The Art of Strengths Coaching

E is for The Enjoyable Journey Approach

There are many ways to do fine work. One approach is to focus on the following themes. You will, of course, follow these in your own way.

Enjoyment

You can focus on doing work you enjoy. It can be useful to choose a specific activity where you enjoy the journey as well as reaching the goal. You can translate this into doing a specific project and clarify the picture of success.

Effectiveness

You can do work that is effective and efficient. One approach is to follow the principles you believe in, be professional and perform superb work. It is also to focus on continuous improvement and find solutions to challenges.

Excellence

You can aim to do your personal best, follow your principles and produce excellence. Sometimes you may also do work that is extraordinary. You can deliver peak performances on the way towards achieving the picture of success.

Imagine that you want to follow these principles in your own way. Let’s explore these themes.

Enjoyable Work

What are the specific activities you enjoy doing? When do you feel most creative? What are the activities that give you positive energy? What are those where you feel in your element – at ease and yet able to excel?

What are your strengths? What are the specific activities where you do superb work and help people to succeed? What are those where you enjoy the journey as well as reaching the goal?

This final question is vital. It is important to do work you find enjoyable even if sometimes it is exhausting. Here are some answers that people give when focusing on the enjoyment part.

The specific activities where I enjoy the
journey as well as reaching the goal are: 

Helping people to overcome setbacks … Caring for animals … Restoring houses … Solving certain technical problems … Passing on knowledge to people … Helping people to find or create satisfying careers.  

Being a trusted advisor to clients … Working to build a fairer society … Producing solutions focused journalism …  Leading teams that do pioneering work … Orchestrating people to achieve a compelling goal.

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

Imagine that you have highlighted a specific activity you enjoy doing. How can you pursue this in the future?

You may aim to encourage people, write an article, produce a web site, nurture a garden or do another activity. You may create a successful prototype, raise money for charity, start a social enterprise or build a business.

You may aim to do satisfying work as a teacher, medical worker, sports coach or crisis manager. You may work as a scientist, specialist, leader, trusted advisor or in another professional role.

Imagine you have settled on your chosen activity. You can then focus on turning it into a specific project. When doing this it can be useful to explore the following questions.

What is the specific activity I want to pursue? How can I translate this into a stimulating project? Looking at this project, what are the real results I want to achieve? What will be the benefits of doing such a project? What is the picture of success? 

Will this be a project where I can play to my strengths? Will it be one where I can enjoy the journey as well as reaching the goal? Will it be one where I can focus on the pleasure of doing it even in so-called pressure situations?

The final point is crucial. It can be important to choose a project where you find pleasure in tackling difficult challenges. This can make the work even more rewarding.

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

Effective Work

Imagine that you aim to do a specific project. You have clarified the results to achieve and translated this into a clear picture of success. The next step is to do effective work.

The calls for following the principles you believe in, being professional and doing superb work. It also calls for focusing on continuous improvement and finding solutions to challenges.

Some people confuse efficiency with effectiveness. The problem can be, however, that people are simply being more efficient at following strategies that do not work.

Great workers study success. When focusing on a particular challenge, they focus on what works. Here are some of the questions they may ask when aiming to do effective work.

The enjoyable work approach is not always plain sailing. Sometimes it can involve tackling difficult challenges. It is then important to remind yourself of why you are doing the work.

Sometimes it can be useful to focus on the pleasure of doing the work – even in so-called pressure situations. This philosophy of work is 180 degrees different from other approaches. Those views tell people to keep striving, accept the stress and pay the price for seeking a higher status.

It is important to retain your sense of joy, because otherwise things can go awry. One professional athlete explained this in the following way.

“I had to rediscover my love for the sport. I had become caught up with the whirlwind of chasing money and comparing myself to others. This led to negative self-talk and frustration.”

Thomas Bjørn described a similar experience in the book he wrote with Michael Calvin called Mind Game: The Secrets of Golf’s Winners. In it he recalls learning how to deal with the demons in his own head.

This involved returning to the love he had for the game as a child. Here is an extract from the book where he describes facing this challenge.

“A light went out when I lost my swing for a couple of years. I look for myself today and realise I don’t play the game with the same love I lavished on it as a kid. 

“I don’t run to practise or play golf for fun with my friends. To me, it is a job, and it is therefore a short-lived thing.”

 

Another talented sports person aimed to do their personal best but not at any cost. They expressed their philosophy in the following way.

“I began playing sports for pleasure. I loved playing, feeling alive and doing my best. My talent took me to the point where playing sport became a career. People then told me that I would need to sacrifice myself and even suffer if I was to reach the top.  

“Looking at the people who had won titles, however, some said that it bought relief rather than joy. Some had even lost other things that were important in life – such as their marriages and contact with their children.

“I continue to get pleasure from my sport and make a good living. The most crucial thing, however, is that I have managed to focus on what I believe to be the most important things in life.”

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

Excellent Work

Great workers aim to deliver consistently high standards and achieve excellence. Sometimes they go beyond this and do work that is extraordinary.

There are many ways to deliver such work. One approach is to prepare properly. It is then to do your personal best, follow your principles and deliver peak performances.

David Hemery, an Olympic Gold Medal winner, described some of these themes in his 1991 book Sporting Excellence. Here is the official description of the book.

In his survey of over 50 world-class performers, David Hemery examines the common factors which separate the highest performers from the rest of the competition.

He asks over 80 questions covering subjects such as childhood, upbringing, parental guidance, coaching, personal relationships, destiny, stress and the influences of the mind.  

Over the course of the study covering the performers’ physical, social, mental and moral development, various patterns emerged and these are illustrated with direct quotes taken from interviews given by the performers.

 

David has continued to spread this approach in education, sports and business. His work includes creating a programme for schools which encourages young people to do their personal best.

The programme reached thousands of youngsters. It encouraged them to use their talents in the arts, sports, dance, maths, engineering, leadership and many other activities. David explained this approach in the following way.

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.

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.

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. 

Charles Garfield has also inspired people to pursue these themes. Writing in his books Peak Performers and Second to None, he encouraged people to become the best they could be. He wrote:

“Do not compete with anyone except yourself.”

He said it is vital for people to have a sense of purpose and follow the principles they believe in. He saw this when working as a computer analyst and leader of a team of engineers, scientists and support staff on the Apollo 11 project.

He also founded the Shanti Project. This is a volunteer organisation that focuses on delivering service excellence for patients and families facing life-threatening illness. Alongside this he worked as a clinical professor at the University of California Medical School in San Francisco.

Charles said he first heard the phrase peak performance from a cancer patient who said:

“Staying alive these days is my peak performance.”

Remembering the phrase, he went on to study great workers in many fields. These included people in medicine, sports, business and the NASA work in which he was participating.

Charles said that towards the end of the 1970s he discovered a key trigger for peak performance. People were often motivated by an external mission. But the key factor was for them to make an internal decision to perform at their best. He wrote:

“Now I began to understand what I was hearing and seeing, as one peak performer after another spoke of self-training, learning by experience, organizing that experience around a single theme, speaking and finding a purpose, a personal mission that represents something important.

“They were talking about what management theorist Warren Bennis calls ‘working near the heart of things.’

“They want to feel proud of themselves, to achieve something, to leave a mark and a contribution, and they follow their plans for doing all that purposefully and tenaciously. That is what I – and many others I knew – wanted.

“So peak performers are not merely exceptions. They represent a kind of person any of us can be – once we find the capacity in ourselves.”

Charles explained that people often do their best work in teams when they act in unison. They employ their similarity of spirit and diversity of strengths to create a higher harmony. They then do extraordinary work on the way towards achieving a compelling goal.

There are many ways to do fine work. This article has focused on doing work where you enjoy the journey as well as achieving the goal.

Bearing this in mind, let’s return to your chosen project. How can you continue to do effective work? How can you aim to deliver excellence? What will be the benefits of doing this work – both for yourself and for any other stakeholders?

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

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