The Art of Strengths Coaching

C is for Pursuing Your Craft

What are the things you really care about? You may care about encouraging people, creating beautiful things, solving certain problems, passing on knowledge, helping people to succeed, building a better world or doing another activity.

How can you translate what you care about into pursuing a particular craft? You may aim to do this by working as a counsellor, educator, nurse, writer, film maker, scientist, problem solver, leader or in another role.

How can you set aside time to pursue this craft? Bearing in mind your strengths, how can you focus on doing a specific project? How can you concentrate and do superb work? How can you use your creativity to find solutions to challenges?

How can you set goals each day and reach these aims? How can you encourage yourself on the journey? How can you finish properly? How can you, if possible, get a feeling of contentment?

How can you rest and reflect? Bearing in mind what you care about, how can you then continue to develop as an educator, coach, mentor, musician or in another role? How can you continue to pursue your chosen craft?

There are many definitions for the word craft. Originally it applied to making things by hand. More recently it has expanded to include other activities that involve the pursuit of excellence. One definition is:

To create or make something with skill and careful attention to detail.

Imagine you want to follow this path in your own way. Let’s explore some of the themes you may wish to pursue.

Caring

Seth Godin, the author, believes that sometimes it is difficult to find our calling. He recommends instead to focus on the things we care about. Here is an excerpt from his blog on this topic. You can discover more about his work via the following link.

Seth Godin

Imagine you want to pursue this path. One approach is to start by clarifying the things you really care about.

Most people start by describing how they want to help their children to be happy and support their loved ones. They then move on to other areas.

Different people give different answers when exploring this theme. Here are some of the things they describe.

The Things I Really
Care About Are:

Encouraging other people … Helping people to care for their wellbeing … Serving my faith … Creating beautiful things … Writing songs … Playing joyful music … Spreading practical hope.

Making sure everybody has access to clean water … Working for human rights … Making films that inspire people to care for nature … Passing on knowledge to future generations.

If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. Start by brainstorming the specific things that you really care about. (This is in addition to your loved ones.)

Looking at this list, have a go at describing the top three things. Then rate the extent to which you care about these on a scale 0-10.

The next step is to focus on one of the things you really care about and translate it into doing a specific project. Depending on your chosen path, you may want:  

To write an article … To run a series of seminars … To produce a piece of art … To direct a play … To nurture a garden … To coach a youth football team … To perform in a choir … To make a sculpture. 

To help people find satisfying work … To renovate a house … To help children with dyslexia … To care for animals … To solve a specific problem … To do another activity.

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

Craft

Imagine that you have clarified what you want to do. This may involve developing your skills – and adding your creativity – when pursuing a craft.

Great workers often do work that involves the heart, head and hands. Their heart loves to do the specific activity. Their head has an understanding – a model or a picture – of what they aim to achieve. Their hands brings something into being.

By ‘hands’ I mean, in some cases, literally their hands. They may paint, build, fix, type or do another activity. But in other cases it may be using their whole being – their experience, body, voice or whatever to produce a result.

Dave Gamache, a designer and builder, encourages people to follow certain principles to develop their craft. Here are excerpts from a piece he wrote for the lifehacker website. You can discover more via the following link.

Dave Gamache

Some people start following this path early in life. They begin by throwing themselves into a particular hobby or interest. They get into the habit of doing this activity deeply and well.

The next stage comes later in life. They settle on a particular passion they want to pursue. They then aim to follow certain principles and master certain skills to achieve their picture of success.

Pursuing this path becomes a lifetime journey. They may aim to become the best they can be as an artist, teacher, designer, mentor or whatever.

Here are some examples from women who have enjoyed this journey and helped others to develop their skills. These are based on their biographies for events celebrating female craftswomen on International Women’s Day. You can discover more via the following link.

Celebrating Female Craftswomen

Alan Cooper, a pioneer in computing, has described some of the qualities involved in pursuing your craft. Below is an excerpt from a keynote speech he gave at the Interaction Design Association conference in 2008.

An Insurgence Of Quality

Best to market, particularly in high tech, comes about only through craftsmanship. And craftsmanship is all about quality

The goal of craftsmanship is to get it right, not to get it fast. The ultimate measurement of craft is not speed.

It’s quality. It’s a pure measurement. And a delightful measurement.

Craftsman – craftspeople – do it over and over, until they get it correct.  

And in their training, in their apprenticeship, they build things over and over. 

They learn how to do things correctly, so they can bring enormous expertise to create successful products.

Thus the training of craftsman is a long and drawn out personal process. 

Many people have tried to draw a distinction between the arts and crafts. Denis Dutton, the academic and entrepreneur, explored this topic in a Radio New Zealand broadcast in 1990.

Below are some of the points he raised in his talk The Difference Between Art And Craft. You can discover more via the following link.

Denis Dutton

Let’s return to your own life and work. Imagine that you have translated what you care about into pursuing a certain craft and doing a specific project.

How can you set aside time to do the work? How can you rehearse what you are going to next? How can you follow your chosen ritual for beginning the work? How can you set yourself achievable goals?

How can you follow your principles when doing the work? How can you build on your strengths? How can you keep improving your skills? How can you develop your craft on the way towards achieving the specific goals?

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

Contentment

Imagine that you are pursuing your craft and working towards achieving your goals. As ever, it can be useful to focus on the following steps towards doing superb work. 

Step One: Strengths And Specific Goals 

You can build on your strengths, do satisfying work and set specific goals.  

You can clarify the real results to achieve and translate this into a clear picture of success.

Step Two: Strategies And Support

You can clarify the key strategies you can follow to give yourself the greatest chance of success. 

You can clarify the structure you will follow – such as following your successful style of working – and the support you may need. 

Step Three: Superb Work And Success 

You can follow your preferred way of working, do superb work and find creative solutions to challenges.

You can encourage yourself on the journey, continue to develop and work towards achieving the overall picture of success. 

Pursuing your chosen craft may mean that sometimes you go into what Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi called a state of flow. You become so absorbed in the activity that time goes away.

Different people do this in different ways. Malcolm McCullough described some of the steps that people take in his book Abstracting Craft. Below is a brief excerpt from the book.

Sometimes you will reach your daily goal and get a feeling of contentment. Sometimes you will enjoy such moments but then turn your thoughts to the next day’s work

This highlights the different drives within a craft worker. They enjoy the journey as well as reaching the goal. They then want to keep improving when pursuing their craft. Contentment can sometimes arrive by accepting and combining these different drives.

Contentment For A Craft Worker

It can be the feeling of completeness when seeing their finished product.  

It can be the feeling of following their desire to keep developing and making even better finished products. 

It can be the feeling of using their talents to make their best contribution during their time on the planet. 

Seth Godin believes that, if we focus on things we care about, we want to keep improving. He described this in the following way. 

When we care enough, we raise the bar

Practice alone, the 10,000 hours thing, doesn’t produce work that matters.

No, that only comes from caring. From caring enough to leap, to bleed for the art, to go out on the ledge, where it’s dangerous. 

When we care enough, we raise the bar, not just for ourselves, but for our customer, our audience and our partners.

Let’s return to your own life and work. Imagine that you are pursuing your craft and aiming to achieve a specific goal.

How can you keep doing good work? How can you follow your successful pattern for finishing and reach the goals? How can you do your best and perhaps get a feeling of contentment?

How can you relax, reflect and revitalise yourself? How can you move on to the next stimulating project? How can you then do satisfying work? How can you continue to develop your craft?

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

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