The Art of Strengths Coaching

D is for Drive, Decision Making And Delivery

Great workers keep focusing on their drive. They ask questions similar to those posed by the Gallup Organization and career coaches when shaping their futures. These include the following.

What Are The Things
I Cannot Help But Do?

What are the things I feel driven to do? Which of these drives do I want to follow? What are the decisions I can make to pursue this drive? What might I want to deliver?

What are the disciplines I can follow to translate this drive into action? How can I deal with any potential distractions? How can I finish properly? How can I do my best to deliver?  

People have lots of drives. Many involve staying healthy, caring for their loved ones and maintaining their lifestyle. They then follow daily habits to achieve their goals.

Some people have other drives. They think about pursuing ideas, following their vocation or realising a dream. Sometimes they choose to translate an idea into action, sometimes they don’t.

What makes the difference? Decision making. Doing their due diligence, a person recognises the pluses and minuses involved in working to achieve a goal.

Bearing these in mind, they commit to achieving the aim. Sometimes they go even further, especially when things get tough. They commit to the commitment.

Such people embark on their journey with they eyes open. They embody the qualities described by T.E. Lawrence. He said the those who dream by night may or may not follow up. A summary his view was that:

Dreamers of the day are dangerous … They may act their dreams with eyes open, to make it possible.   

Looking back at your life, can you recall when you took some of these steps? This could have been in your personal or professional life.

You may have had the drive to write an article, pursue a sport or get a job. You may have aimed to travel abroad, build a business, tackle a challenge or do another activity.

What triggered the decision into choosing to follow this drive? How did you make the decision? How did you then follow the required disciplines? How did you deal with any distractions or dramas? How did you do your best to deliver the goods?

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

Drive

Daniel Pink, the author of Drive, described how people want to feel in charge of shaping their futures. For some people this goes beyond getting the basic materials for life.

Such people aim to get food, shelter and other necessities. They also feel driven to do other things. Bearing this in mind, let’s return to some of questions posed at the beginning of this section.

What are the things you feel driven to do? Different people give different answers to this question. Here are some answers given by people whom I have worked with in the past.

I feel driven:

To provide for my family … To help people to manage pain and live positive lives … To help young footballers to graduate from the academy to the first team … To make films that show people the importance of caring for animals. 

To write popular songs and donate the profits to providing food for people … To design care homes that enrich the lives of people experiencing dementia … To provide frameworks in which people can develop and find fulfilment.

To run a recruiting business that is dedicated to getting wins for the candidates and wins for the employers – not one that just aims for profit  … To run a successful intrapreneur programmes in companies … To pass on knowledge in a way that helps people to succeed.  

How to choose the drive you want to follow? One approach is to focus on an idea that you keep returning to. As we know, it is important to spend some time letting an idea incubate. It is then to choose the right time to move into action.

Some people go too early. They feel obligated to move into action, otherwise they think they are procrastinating. On the other hand, some people wait too long. They want to have a totally detailed action plan before moving.

Imagine you have settled on a drive you want to pursue. Bearing in mind the area you want to explore, you can aim:

To give yourself permission to take time to think – to ponder, wander in your thoughts and to sleep on things; 

To clarify the real results to achieve – to do this by imagining the end goal or using your own approach to clarifying what success will look like; 

To begin exploring how to reach the goal – to study best practice in the field and to begin clarifying your own strategies for delivering success. 

You can then settle on pursuing your chosen drive. The end goal does not yet need to be perfectly formed. You can begin clarifying the first version.

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

Describe the specific drive you want to translate into action.

Describe the specific reasons for wanting to translate it into action.  

Describe the specific thing – or things – you want to do, create or deliver by translating it into action.

Decision Making

There are many models for decision making. Some people explore their possible choices, the consequences and the attractiveness of each option. They then decide on their chosen route.

Imagine that you have gone beyond that point. You have settled on the drive you want to follow. It will now be time to explore the following themes.

The What 

The specific thing you want to deliver and the real results you want to achieve.  

The How

The specific strategies you can follow to do your best to deliver the desired results.

Some people work through these themes logically and deliberately. Some do it quickly and use strategic intuition.

Gary Klein studied people who took this latter approach. His books on the topic include Sources of Power: How People Make Decisions and The Power of Intuition.

He studied firefighters and other professionals who made decisions in pressure situations. The following section draws on an interview he gave to Bill Breen for The Fast Company magazine. He explained what he had learned in the following way.

I noticed that when the most experienced commanders confronted a fire, the biggest question they had to deal with wasn’t ‘What do I do?’ It was ‘What’s going on?’

“That’s what their experience was buying them – the ability to size up a situation and to recognise the best course of action.”

Gary explained that firefighters saw the big picture and looked for patterns. They then began exploring potential strategies.

They reached into their experience – their ‘hyperdrive’ – to scan previous scenarios and see what lessons might apply to the present situation.

They chose a potential course of action and played scenarios – like running a film in their heads – to see this might work in practice. 

They ran the film to see if the strategy would work and, if so, they began pursuing it.

Gary said that firefighters kept exploring various strategies until they found one that worked. He explained this in the following way.

“Once they make a decision, firefighters evaluate it by rapidly running a mental simulation. They might run through several choices, but they never compare one option with another.

“They rapidly evaluate each choice on its own merits, even if they cycle through several possibilities. They imagine how a course of action may unfold and how it may ultimately play out. 

“They don’t need the best solution. They just need the one that works.”

Imagine that you have clarified what you want to deliver. You may aim to do a specific project, tackle a challenge or do another activity. You will have clarified the real results you want to achieve.

You will also have clarified the key strategies you can follow to deliver these results. It may be that you have already started translating these into a clear action plan.

Great workers often take one more step before leaping into action. They do a reality check to check their motivation and commitment. This involves them working through the following steps.

My Motivation Rating 

Pluses. The pluses involved in working
towards and achieving the results will be: 

*

Potential Minuses. The potential minuses in
working towards and achieving the results will be: 

* 

Bearing these in mind, my motivation rating
to do what is required to achieve the results is: 

____ / 10 

Looking at your own rating, make sure it is at least 8/10. You can also focus on how to maintain or improve the rating. This can include finding ways:

To build on the pluses;  

To manage or minimise any minuses;  

To keep encouraging yourself on the journey.  

Imagine that you have taken these steps. If you wish, you can try tackling the exercise on this theme of decision making. This invites you to complete the following sentences.

Delivery 

Imagine that are following your drive. Different people take different steps towards doing good work and delivering the goods. One approach is to focus on the following steps.

Drive

Great workers keep focusing on their drive – their reason for doing the work. This provides them with positive energy and motivation to on the journey.

Such people aim to deliver high standards and get successes each day. Recognising that there may be ups and downs, they sometimes reframe things as playing a long game. They also focus on the next theme.

Discipline

Great workers follow good habits on the way towards achieving their goals. They take this approach whether they are counselling people, cooking in a prestigious restaurant, training to compete for an Olympic Gold or doing another activity.

Twyla Tharp, the American choreographer, believed in this approach. Even into her sixties Twyla started the day at 5.30 am and walked out of her flat onto the Manhattan Street. She then hailed a cab that took her to the gym for a two-hour workout.

Twyla explained that it is vital to start the day properly. Writing in her book The Creative Habit, she described how she followed certain rituals to develop good habits. She explained this in the following way.

You will follow your disciplines to do good work. Sometimes you may also need to take the next step.

Dealing With Dramas

Great workers focus on what they can control and do not get distracted by dramas. They do not become victims of their own emotional ups or downs. They channel their feelings into working towards achieving the goals.

They do not, when working in organisations, get caught up in turf wars or game playing. They do not get side tracked by individuals who choose to be dramatic or have serial problems.

Great workers keep focusing on the results to achieve rather than the running commentary. Such distracting noises may come from their own negative scripting or from observer critics who have their own agendas.

They keep following the required disciplines when tackling challenges. They do this when, for example, taking a penalty in a shoot-out, presenting to a big audience or dealing with a crisis.

Such workers do their diligence before embarking on a project. They anticipate the potential dramas they may encounter on the journey. They then explore the follow themes.

How can I prevent these dramas happening? How can I deal with any dramas if, despite my best efforts, they do happen? 

How can I buy time to think? How can I focus on the real results to achieve in the short-term and the long-term? How can I do my best to find possible solutions to the dramas? How can I implement these solutions? 

How can I return to following the required disciplines? How can I get a quick success? How can I continue doing good work on the way towards the destination? 

Great workers regain their rhythm and continue to do good work. They can do this because they have rehearsed how to prevent and manage dramas.

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

Delivery 

Different people choose different ways to do their personal best when doing good work. Let’s look at one person who took this approach.

Chris Hoy – Focusing On The
Process Of Riding The Perfect Race

Chris Hoy, the Olympic cyclist, made a habit of setting big goals. Breaking these down into smaller targets, he focused on the step-by-step process of working to achieve these aims. This included visualising and riding the perfect race.

Chris gave an interview to Michael Johnson, who himself won four Olympic gold medals, for the video series Chasing Perfection. In it he explained what he learned from working with Steve Peters, the psychiatrist who helps people to perform at their best. Here is a precis of what Chris said.

I sought Steve’s help because I wanted to improve. One trigger was what happened at the World Championships in 2003. Then I changed my strategy based on watching a rival’s race and them doing an incredibly fast time.

Instead of thinking that he was quick because of the track conditions – and therefore maybe we would all be quick – I changed the gears on my bike. I also attacked too hard at the start. This led to me dying off at the end and giving a really poor performance.  

When I met Steve, he explained how he could and could not help. He said that it was not possible to suddenly become super human and conjure magical performances out of thin air.  

What it was possible to do, however, was to help me to do what I was fully capable of doing. It was also possible to help me to do this under the most extreme pressures.  

This would be particularly relevant in front of Olympic crowds where there might also be many distractions. For me it would be about focusing on my performance. Anything that was irrelevant and out of my control, forget it.

The key would be hone in on the A-B-C process that I knew worked rather than worry about the outcome. If you perform at your best and focus on the process, the result will take care of itself.

He also describes how Steve prepared him to deal with potential challenges. Before one competition, for example, Steve asked him what he would do if one of his rivals went just before him and set a new world record.

Chris said that he did not want to think about such an issue. Steve explained that it was important to clarify how to respond to such challenges rather than ignore them.

Otherwise it is like somebody saying: “Don’t think of a pink elephant.” You immediately think of a pink elephant.

Steve urged him to practice how to take positive steps to deal with such potential issues. Chris explained this in the following way.

Steve said that, from now on whenever you get a negative thought between now and the Games – there are only two weeks to go – I want you to visualise your race.  

It is only a minute long. Do it in real time, from the moment you are at the start gate. The count down, the deep breaths, the snap out of the gate, the first half lap … Visualise the whole race. 

Chris says that the anticipated challenges actually appeared, in triplicate.

I got to the race on the night itself and it seemed like Steve had some sort of crystal ball. I was to ride last. With four riders to go, including myself, the guy broke the world record.  

Three riders to go another guy broke the world record. The guy before me broke the world record again.  

Instead of panicking and changing my strategy, I was so focused on myself and getting my ride out.

Chris went on to ride his perfect race. He focused on the process, performed at his personal best and won the prize.

Let’s return to your own project. Imagine that you have pursued your drive and made your decisions. You have followed your disciplines and dealt with any dramas.

How can you continue to follow good habits? How can you encourage yourself on the journey? How can you follow your successful pattern for finishing?

If you wish, try tackling the final exercise on this theme. This invites you to complete the following sentences. You can then do your personal best to deliver the goods.

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