The Art of Strengths Coaching

E is for Having Enthusiasm For The Effort Involved As Well As For The End Result

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When do you feel enthusiasm for the effort involved as well as for the end result? Different people give different answers to this question. Here are some they mention.

I feel enthusiasm for the effort involved
as well as for the end result when I am:

Caring for my garden … Writing articles … Helping people to find their strengths … Restoring vintage cars … Nursing sick animals … Directing plays … Climbing mountains … Solving difficult problems.

Sometimes we do activities simply to get pleasure from reaching the goal. On other occasions we pursue activities where we enjoy the process as well as reaching the prize.

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 had enthusiasm for the effort involved as well as for the end result. 

Describe the specific reasons why you had enthusiasm for the effort involved.

Describe the specific things that happened as a result of having enthusiasm for the effort involved as well as for the end result.

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How do people develop enthusiasm for doing such work? Many have a history of being encouraged or allowed to pursue their labours of love from an early age. They then develop the following habits.

They do things they enjoy and really care about. 

They translate these into tangible projects and do in-depth work.

They focus on getting things right and producing excellence. 

Ron Berger, the Chief Academic Officer of Expeditionary Learning, describes this approach in his book An Ethic of Excellence. Working as a teacher before taking his present role, he encouraged young people to produce fine work.

Here is an extract from an article Ron wrote on this topic. You can discover more via the following links to the piece and also the Expeditionary Learning website.

https://www2.cortland.edu/dotAsset/199328.pdf

http://elschools.org/

Fostering An
Ethic of Excellence

In my classroom I have students who come from homes full of books and students whose families own almost no books at all.

I want them all to be craftsmen. Some may take a little longer; some may need to use extra strategies and resources. In the end, they need to be proud of their work, and their work needs to be worthy of pride.

Ron

Wherever I am, in my school or in other schools, I am on the lookout for models of beautiful work, powerful work, important work. These examples set the standards for what my students and I aspire to achieve in school.

In my library I have photographs of historical architectural scale models built by 4th-graders in Decatur, Georgia, that would set a high standard even for high school students. I have a field guide to a pond in Dubuque, Iowa, written and illustrated by elementary school students, that is bookstore quality.

I have statistical math studies designed by 3rd-graders in Maine. I have photocopies of students’ stories, essays, reviews, novels, and poetry. I have videotapes of portfolio presentations by students from all over the country.  

And I have 25 years of models from my own classroom and school – copies, photographs, slides, and videotapes – that I draw from almost daily.

When my class begins a new project we begin with a taste of excellence.  

I pull out these models of work by former students, videotapes of former students presenting their work, exemplary work from other schools, and examples of work from the professional world.  

We discuss what makes the work powerful; what makes a piece of creative writing compelling; what makes a scientific or historical research project significant and stirring. 

Biographies of Seniors 

In one project my 6th-graders interviewed senior citizens and wrote their biographies. No one needed to tell them the reason for doing a quality job.

These books were to be gifts to the seniors, gifts that might become precious heirlooms.  

Because their work would have this public audience, students were motivated to seek critique from everyone. They read the drafts of their biographies to the whole class for suggestions. They labored, draft after draft, on their cover designs.

They wanted their books to be perfect. This, too, was work that mattered.

People love to do projects they really care about. They love to become absorbed in the work, find solutions to challenges and produce excellence.

Let’s return to your own life and work. Looking ahead, can you think of a specific situation when you will enjoy the process as much as achieving the prize? It will obviously be something you really care about.

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 have enthusiasm for the effort involved as well as for the end result.

Describe the specific reasons why you may have this enthusiasm.

Describes the specific things that may happen as a result of having this enthusiam for the effort as well as for the end result.

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