The Art of Strengths Coaching

E is for Enjoying Giving Everything In Experiences That Have An Edge

“I feel most alive in situations when there is something at stake,” said one person. “I can perform well in other activities, but even in those I try to keep improving.

“Sometimes I need to rest and simply enjoy life, which I have now managed to do. But I feel most motivated when there is something hanging on the result.”

Some people love to give everything in experiences that have an edge. The edge may involve a sense of excitement, a competition or something else that boosts their adrenaline.

This approach has both upsides and downsides. The pluses involve a person feeling alive, learning through experience and continually improving. The minuses can involve tiredness, danger and worrying about things they cannot control – such as whether or not they win the prize.

Some people therefore reframe success in a different way. They define it as: “Did I give everything? Did I do my best in the situation?” Rather than: “Did I win?”

Why? Because this is the only thing they can control. They cannot control whether they win the sale, the prize or fame.

Some people do not need experiences to have an edge in order to give everything. They may simply love doing certain activities in which they enjoy following the process as much as reaching the prize.

Looking back on your life, when have you enjoyed giving everything in a situation? The experience may or may not have had an edge, but you still enjoyed giving your best.

You may have taken this path when encouraging a person, renovating a house or singing in choir. You may have done it when playing a sport, pitching for a piece of business or doing another activity.

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

Describe a specific situation in the past when you enjoyed giving everything – whether or not the experience had an edge. 

Describe the specific things you did then to give everything in the situation. 

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

People who enjoy experiences that have an edge may be adrenaline driven. They are often turned on by adrenaline, adventure and achievement. Let’s consider these themes.

Adrenaline

They love getting their adrenaline juices flowing. They may be attracted to sporting activities, skydiving, stage performances, fire fighting, troubleshooting, keynote speaking or whatever.

Adventure

They love doing projects that provide a sense of adventure. Stretching themselves, they enjoy learning and gathering new experiences. Frequently turned-on by the highs, they may also experience deep lows. Such people want to feel alive and hate being bored. They like to have drama in their lives.

Achievement

Striving hard, they love to reach a goal. They get an enormous kick from reaching a summit, accomplishing the almost impossible or performing superbly in front of an audience. Some like applause and adulation.

People who enjoy experiences with an edge are sometimes looking for more than thrills. Mike Levenhagen, from Santa Clara University, has described what he learned from studying serious climbers.

He outlined the following themes in his paper. This was called A Stage Model of Why Climbers Climb And How It Frames the Discussions of Recent Climbing Controversies.

Serious climbers climb for reasons of achievement and for the attainment of flow.

Serious climbers climb to build or define character.

Serious climbers climb to experience a sense of deep spiritual self-realisation.

Mike explains that serious climbers often set out to achieve certain targets. They may aim to scale a number of summits or achieve a certain grade of climbing.

As in many other fields, the initial focus is on learning technical skills that enable them to progress. Putting these skills into action can lead to experiencing a feeling of being in the zone. This can lead to the next stage.

Serious climbers begin putting themselves into more high-stress climbing situations. This enables them to hone their discipline and test their mettle.

Mike says that such climbers venture more into ‘the head game’. They want to develop as practitioners of climbing and also as people. They enjoy the process of testing themselves at the edge. Mike writes:

They do so to prove their worth to self and others in more and more difficult, high-stress situations. The deeper the pressure, the more their character is revealed.

As they do so, another shift in consciousness begins to unfold as their individual personalities get in the way of their learning and growth.  

It is likely that repeated, voluntary, high-stress experiences engender far-reaching new perspectives on life.

In the last stage of climbing, a climber transitions from the mundane everyday world into a more sublime and heroic world. 

The great majority of climbers’ insights, reflections, and recollections in the writings – when they occurred – look to be about self-realization, about spiritual growth and expansion of the self, and about the meaning of life itself. 

Most extreme climbers are looking for an ascent to show them one more thing about life or themselves.

Serious climbers sometimes experience a sense of spiritual transformation. Seeing things in perspective, they feel part of something greater than themselves.

Different Views About Competition

There are many different views about how people can motivate themselves. Some involve different views about competition.

Some people aim to make the best use of their talents and become the best they can be. They do not need to compete with others to make this happen.

Some people aim to make the best use of their talents by using the spur of competition. They find this provides the adrenaline trigger to keep improving and achieve their personal targets

Pete Carroll, who led the Seattle Seahawks to winning a Super Bowl, has an interesting view on competition. Here is a piece from his book Winning Forever.

Let’s return to your own life and work. Looking ahead, can you think of a situation in which you will enjoy giving everything? This experience may or may not have an edge.

You may want to take these steps when encouraging a person, doing something stimulating or pursuing a creative activity. You may want to do it when running a project, managing a crisis situation or leading a team.

How can you do your best in situation? What will be the benefits – both for you and other people? What may happen as a result of throwing yourself into the experience?

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

Describe a specific situation in the future when you may want to enjoy giving everything – whether or not the experience has an edge.

Describe the specific things you can do then to give everything in the situation.

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

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