The Art of Strengths Coaching

C is for Concentrating On The Things You Care About That You Can Do Something About

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People who make a positive contribution concentrate on what they can do. They do not become paralysed by what they can’t do.

They follow the advice given in the well-known Starfish story, written by the anthropologist and naturalist Loren Eisley. This has become an inspiring parable for those who want to help people and the planet.

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Looking back, can you think of a time when you applied this approach in your own way? You chose to concentrate on something you cared about and could do something about. You focused on what you could control, rather than become obsessed by things you could not control

Looking back, you may have chosen to encourage a person, care for your garden or write an article. You may have run a seminar, created a website that helped other people or pursued some other project.

What triggered you to concentrate on what you cared about? What did you do to set a specific goal? How did you then do your best to perform superb work? What happened as a result of taking these steps?

If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. Looking back on your life, this invites you to do the following things.

Describe the specific thing you cared about that you did something about.

Describe the specific steps you took to do something about the thing you cared about.

Describe the specific things that happened as a result of taking these steps.

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Great workers care deeply about their chosen pursuit. They may feel passionately about encouraging people, building a better society, healing the planet or whatever.

They can get thrown off course, however, when they almost care too much. They may become paralysed by empathy or overcome by sorrow.

People sometimes need to remind themselves to be grateful, happy and joyful. Otherwise their pain can stop them doing fine work or can affect others.

Bob Thurman, Professor of Indo-Tibetan Buddhist Studies at Columbia University, believes it is vital to be positive. We are then more likely to spread happiness to other people.

Some people are so full of angst, he says, that they create bad vibes around them. This does not help anybody. It is important not to give in to the forces that have created the problems.

Bob says that being consumed by fear means we are giving in to those forces. We may then become dependent on those same people to solve the problems. But they won’t.

Below is a video he did for the organisation called Big Think. In it he explains the need for people to stay joyful. You can discover more about his work via the following link.

http://bobthurman.com/

Different people choose different ways to concentrate on what they can do something about. They may choose to pursue one or both of the following paths.

They may focus on being caring in their daily lives – such as showing kindness, adopting the philosophy of right livelihood or pursuing a certain lifestyle.  

They may focus on a specific thing they care about – such as encouraging a person, passing on knowledge or pursuing what they believe to be a worthwhile project.

Whichever route they take, they believe in following certain principles. Mahatma Gandhi described this approach in the following way.

It’s the action, not the fruit of the action, that’s important. You have to do the right thing.

It may not be in your power, may not be in your time, that there’ll be any fruit. But that doesn’t mean you stop doing the right thing.  

You may never know what results come from your action. But if you do nothing, there will be no result.

Mary Gordon aims to both encourage people and produce positive results. She created the organisation called Roots of Empathy and wrote the book Roots of Empathy: Changing the World Child by Child.

The organisation’s mission is to build caring, peaceful and civil societies through the development of empathy in children and adults.

The programme involves bringing a local baby into the classroom. The children then learn how to understand and care for the needs of another human being.

Here is an excerpt from the organisation’s website. You can discover more via the following link.

http://www.rootsofempathy.org/en/

The focus of Roots of Empathy in the long term is to build capacity of the next generation for responsible citizenship and responsive parenting.

In the short term, Roots of Empathy focuses on raising levels of empathy, resulting in more respectful and caring relationships and reduced levels of bullying and aggression.

Part of our success is the universal nature of the program; all students are positively engaged instead of targeting bullies or aggressive children. 

The Roots of Empathy programme has spread to many countries. It has produced remarkable results in enabling children to become more caring, peaceful and able to solve problems. This has also reduced aggression, bullying and other social problems. 

Let’s return to your own life and work. Looking to the future, is there something you care about that you can do something about? You may want to encourage others, create beauty or find your own way to plant seeds of hope.

If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites you to do the following things.

Describe the specific thing you care about that you may want to do something about.

Describe the specific steps you can take to do something about what you care about.

Describe the specific things that may happen as a result of taking these steps.

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