The Art of Strengths Coaching

D is for Seeing Things From A Distance And In Depth

Distance and In Depth

There are many ways to find your strengths. One approach is to clarify the specific activities in which you see things both from a distance and in depth. A paramedic explained this approach in the following way.

“When arriving at the scene of an accident, I step back and try to see the big picture. It is almost as if I am hovering above the situation and getting an overview of what is happening.

“At the same time, I am able to zoom in and see the smallest details. Sometimes this is challenging on an emotional level, of course, because I empathise with people who are in pain.

“Then I zoom out again and make decisions about the actions to be taken. I keep trying to see the big picture, however, as well as doing the intricate work to treat patients.”

Looking at your own work, what are the situations where you see things from a distance and in depth? You may be teaching a seminar, facilitating a mentoring session, designing a garden, tackling a certain kind of challenge or whatever.

Looking at these situations, can you think of an example where you did good work in the past? What did you do then to do good work? What happened as a result of doing good work?

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

Describe a specific example of when you did good work in a situation where you saw things both from a distance and in depth.

Describe the specific things you did to do good work in the situation. 

Describe the specific things that happened as a result of doing the good work.

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Different people report different sensations when seeing things from a distance and in depth, but there are some common themes. One family therapist highlighted some of these in the following way.

“The first time I experienced this sensation was when I was running a family therapy session. This sounds odd, but suddenly it felt as if I was floating above people in the room.

“Looking from above, I could clearly see the family communication patterns. At the same time I was still completely involved in the face-to-face communication with each person.

“Since then I have experienced something similar in many therapy sessions. This enables me to see patterns and help the family to get positive results.” 

Different people ask different questions when looking at things from a distance and in depth. Whatever questions they use, however, they often focus on: a) What is actually happening; b) What people want to happen; c) What can to be done to make this happen.

People gather lots of information. They then use their experience and insight to do the following things.

They quickly see patterns – both the successful and unsuccessful patterns – and the consequences of these patterns. 

They see the potential picture of success. 

They see how to pursue the best strategy for achieving the picture of success.

Let’s return to the specific activity in which you see things at a distance and in depth. Sometimes you will get to the heart of the matter and clarify the strategy for achieving success.

Sometimes you may get sucked into the detail, however, or become overwhelmed by emotions. On these occasions you may need to find a way to see things from a distance.

Some people do something physical to see things in perspective. They may go for a walk, sleep on the matter, take deep breaths or whatever. You will find your own way of making decisions in such situations.

Looking to the future, can you think of an example of when you may want to build on your ability to see things at a distance and in depth? You may want to do this in a personal or professional situation.

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

Describe a specific example of when you may want to do good work in a situation where you see things both from a distance and in depth.

Describe the specific things you can do to do good work in the situation. 

Describe the specific things that may happen as a result of doing the good work.

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