The Art of Strengths Coaching

E is for Doing Work That Is Effective, Excellent And Extraordinary  

 

There are many models for doing fine work. One approach is for people to do work that is effective, excellent and then extraordinary. Different people do this in different ways.

Maria Montessori did it with her early work on education. Martha Graham did it with her dancing. Jonas Salk did it with his work to prevent polio. Alexander Calder did it with his paintings. Maya Angelou did it with her poetry and presence. David Attenborough did it with the BBC TV series Planet Earth 2.

You will find your own way to do extraordinary work. People sometimes explore the following themes, however, when going through these steps. 

Effective

People start by focusing on effectiveness and making sure things work properly. They implement the right strategies in the right way to get the right results.  

People do this when producing a piece of work, running a hospital, maintaining the infrastructure for a country or doing any kind of project. They do what is required to deliver the desired picture of success.

Excellence

People go beyond being effective. They always do the basics and then add the brilliance. They perform superb work, find solutions to challenges and achieve success.

People rise to the occasion and reach their goals. They sometimes do this by adding that touch of class. They produce something special and deliver excellence.  

Extraordinary 

People sometimes produce work that goes into a different dimension. They perform creative work, invent a new product, introduce a new paradigm or do something else that is remarkable.

They show what it is possible to achieve when human beings perform at their best. They may produce something magical that others did not imagine possible. They do this by doing work that is effective, excellent and then extraordinary.  

Can you think of a person, team or organisation that followed some of these steps? They may have been an artist, musician, athlete, writer, inventor or scientist. They may have been a sports team, medical unit, social enterprise or pioneering company.

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

Describe a person, team or organisation that moved through the stages of doing work that was effective, excellent and extraordinary. 

Describe the specific things they did to go through these stages.

Describe the specific things that happened as a result.

 

Effective

Great workers focus on effectiveness rather than just efficiency. They make sure they are climbing the right mountain.  Such workers spend a lot of time clarifying the real ‘What’ before moving on to the ‘How’. They ask questions such as:

“What are the real results to achieve? What is the picture of success?”

Some organisations, for example, are not effective because they are trying to climb the wrong mountain more efficiently. They focus on goals that were relevant years ago. People can make the processes more efficient, but this will not help them thrive in the modern world.

Great workers pursue effective strategies and make sure things work properly. They ask:

“What are the key strategies we can follow to give ourselves the greatest chance of success? How can we follow these in the most effective way?”

Imagine that you work in a team. You may be the leader or a team member. Looking to the future, how do you think the team can be more effective? You can also ask the same question about yourself as an individual. Here are some possible themes it can be useful to explore.

Excellence

Great workers go beyond being effective. They always do the basics and then add the brilliance. They perform superb work, find solutions to challenges and achieve success.

People rise to the occasion and reach their goals. They sometimes do this by adding that touch of class. They produce something special and deliver excellence.

Many books have been written on this theme. During the 1980s I learned a lot from David Hemery’s book Sporting Excellence.

Drawing on his own experience as an Olympic Gold Medal winner, David identified the qualities demonstrated by great athletes. One key factor was their intrinsic motivation. They aimed:

To develop their inner drive.

To develop their inner discipline. 

To deliver excellence.

Great performers played the sport because they wanted to play it, rather than because they wanted to please others such as their parents. They then aimed to become the best they could be.

David Hemery has continued to spread this approach in education, sports and business. Below is an excerpt from one of the programmes for young people that he helped to set up. You can discover more about that and his work in business via the following links.

http://www.21stcenturylegacy.com/be-the-best-you-can-be

http://www.performanceconsultants.com/david-hemery

Be the Best You Can Be!

Tens of thousands of young people from many backgrounds, ranging from the deprived to the privileged, are currently engaged in the Be the Best you can Be! Programme across the UK and, through the coaching/enhanced facilitation skills involved.

ALL are enabled to follow their own unique learning journey to achieve their full intellectual, physical, social and spiritual potential as responsible individuals, citizens and member of their community.

What is the aim of the Be the Best you can Be! Programme?

There is a spark of greatness, something special and unique in everyone and Be the Best you can Be! is designed to unlock more of each individual’s untapped potential and is the translation of inspiration into action. 

With all that is going on in the world today, our aim is to help young people to take more control of their lives.  

A key to unlocking these attributes is through the power of attentive empathic listening and generating ownership through effective questioning (known in business as GROW model ‘Coaching’).

Here is a video of David talking at TEDxKCS. In it he describes how to find the spark of greatness in everyone.

Many educators practise this philosophy. They aim to help their students to develop their inner drive and the inner discipline required to deliver excellence.

People must have the will before they can learn the skill. They can then do their best to perform great work and then, when appropriate, add that touch of class. This can lead to them doing work that moves into the next category. 

Extraordinary 

People sometimes produce work that goes into a different dimension. They perform creative work, invent a new product, introduce a new paradigm or do something else that is remarkable.

They show what it is possible to achieve when human beings perform at their best. They may produce something magical that others did not imagine possible. They do this by doing work that is effective, excellent and then extraordinary.

Malala Yousafzai is somebody who has done extraordinary things. Ordered to be executed by the Taliban because she believed everybody had the right to an education, she went on to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Here are some things she has said along the way.

I don’t want to be thought of as the ‘girl who was shot by the Taliban’ but the ‘girl who fought for education.’ This is the cause to which I want to devote my life. 

I had the choice to stay silent and be killed or to speak up and be killed … My story is the story of thousands of children from around the world. I hope it inspires others to stand up for their rights. 

The terrorists thought they would change my aims and stop my ambitions, but nothing changed in my life except this: weakness, fear and hopelessness died. Strength, power and courage were born. 

If you hit a Talib with your shoe, then there would be no difference between you and the Talib. You must not treat others with cruelty and that much harshly, you must fight others but through peace and through dialogue and through education. 

Let us pick up our books and our pens, they are the most powerful weapons … One child, one teacher, one book, one pen can change the world … The extremists are afraid of books and pens, the power of education frightens them. They are afraid of women.  

Malala accepted the Nobel Peace Prize on 10 December, 2014, with Indian children’s rights and education advocate Kailash Satyarthi. She contributed her entire prize money of more than $500,000 to financing the creation of a secondary school for girls in Pakistan.

The Malala Fund, which she and her father set up in 2013, has the following aims. You can read more about how these are translated into action via the following link.

https://blog.malala.org/

We advocate – at local, national and international levels – for resources and policy changes needed to ensure all girls complete 12 years of school.

We invest in developing country education leaders and organisations — the people who best understand girls in their communities — in regions where most girls miss out on secondary education.

We amplify girls’ voices. Malala Fund believes adolescent girls should speak for themselves and tell leaders what resources they need to learn and achieve their potential.

You can discover more about her work via the following link to the Malala Organisation website. This is followed by a video of her speaking after accepting the Nobel Prize.

https://www.malala.org/malalas-story

Let’s return to your own life and work. Looking ahead, can you think of a situation in which you may want to focus on being effective, delivering excellence and then maybe doing extraordinary work?

Certainly this would be challenging, but how could you move through these stages in your own way? What might happen as a result?

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

Describe a specific situation when you may want to move through the stages of doing work that is effective, excellent and then extraordinary.

Describe the specific things you can do to move through these stages. 

Describe the specific things that may happen as a result.

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