The Art of Strengths Coaching

E is for Enlightenment, Execution and Excellence

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There are many models for doing fine work. One approach is to go through the stages of enlightenment, execution and excellence.

Enlightenment may mean, for example, making a creative breakthrough. Many people have such epiphanies, but few are followed-up.

Execution calls for translating the insight into action. People can then keep working hard until they achieve excellence.

Looking back on your life, when you have gone through these stages? You may have translated the breakthrough into writing an article, renovating a house, launching a website or whatever.

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

Describe a specific time when you went through the stages of enlightenment, execution and working to produce excellence.

Describe the specific things you did then to go through these stages.

Describe the specific things that happened as a result of going through these stages.

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Enlightenment

When do you get creative breakthroughs? Maybe it is a particular time of day, such as the early morning. Maybe you are doing a particular activity, such as walking. Maybe you are in a particular location, such as the countryside.

There is no guarantee that doing these things will produce ideas, but it can be useful to consider the conditions that lead to such breakthroughs. Here is what one person said.

“I get my best ideas at different times. One is when running in the morning. My head feels clear and this releases my imagination.

“Running is easy at the weekends, but more difficult during the week.

“So I decided to create a 20-minute walk to my work place in London. I get off the tube two stops before I need to, buy a coffee and walk to the office.

“This helps me to recover from the crowded commuter train. I feel refreshed and able to do good work during the day.

“Another time I get ideas is when witnessing something brilliant. I love to see a superb musical, visit an art gallery or watch wildlife programmes on television.

“My mind feels stimulated. Frequently I follow-up the ideas and translate these into something tangible.”

Enlightenment comes in many different forms. It also has many different names, such as ‘epiphanies’, ‘realisations’ or ‘Aha!’ moments.

Such moments are exciting, but not all stand the test of time. Some people therefore choose to reflect, sleep on it and see if the breakthrough still resonates.

Sometimes the idea gets stronger. If so, they then decide whether or not they want to translate it into action. This is something we will explore later.

Before then, however, you may wish to try tackling an exercise on this theme. This invites you to do the following things.

Describe a specific project in which you would like to get enlightenment and make a breakthrough.

Describe the real results you want to achieve by making the breakthrough.

Describe the specific things you can do to increase the chances of getting enlightenment and making the breakthrough.

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Execution

Some people see enlightenment as an end in itself. Other people want to translate the ideas into action. How to make this happen?

Let’s assume that you have had a creative breakthrough. You can see a potential way forward with the project and are clear on your picture of success.

Good implementers then move into action. They aim to keep doing the right things in the right way every day. This increases the chances of delivering the right results.

Looking back at your own life, when have you followed a daily discipline? You may have been studying for an exam, aiming to improve your health, striving to hit a project deadline or whatever.

What did you do right then? How did you develop good habits? How did you overcome setbacks along the way? How did you encourage yourself on the journey? How can you follow similar principles in the future?

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

Describe the specific project in which you would like to move from enlightenment to execution.

Describe the real results you want to achieve in the project.

Describe the specific things you can do to execute properly and do the right things in the right way to achieve the desired results.

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Excellence

Looking at the project you want tackle, what is your picture of success? What will be happening that will show you have delivered excellence?

Different people have different views regarding what they believe to be fine work. Much depends on the positive models they have learned from during the early part of their careers.

One Managing Director explained where he had learned about professional standards.

“My early working life was spent in retail. Fortunately I had a great boss who kept showing us what good looks like.

“Every morning he took us outside to stand in the car park. He encouraged us to look at the store through the customer’s eyes.

“He then took us on the customer’s journey. Looking at every detail as we walked through the store, he asked us to note the following things.

What is good about the store, the display and the behaviour of the staff? How can we do more of these things?

What can be improved about the store, the display and the behaviour of the staff? How can we do these things?

“Part of my job was to make sure that every tin was flush with the edge of each shelf. That is probably where I developed my OCD tendencies.

“Now I have extremely high standards regarding what must be delivered by the people in my company.”

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

Describe the specific project in which you would like to move from execution to excellence.

Describe the specific things you can do to deliver excellence when doing this project.

Describe the specific benefits of delivering excellence when doing this project.

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