The Art of Strengths Coaching

F is for Offering People Frameworks For Fulfilment  

There are many ways to help people. One approach is to start by finding out what they want to achieve. It is then to offer them frameworks they can follow to flow, focus, finish and find fulfilment.

Imagine that you want to use this approach in your own way. You may want to use it when acting as a counsellor, educator, mentor, trusted advisor or in another professional role.

Imagine that a person, team or organisation has asked you to help them to reach their goals. One approach is to go through the following steps.

You can find out what
people want to achieve

You can start by creating a positive environment. You can then help people – the individual, team or organisation – to clarify the real results they want to achieve. You can clarify their picture of success.

You can offer people
frameworks for fulfilment 

You can offer people frameworks – principles, positive models and practical tools – they can use to achieve their aims. This can involve helping them to flow, focus, finish and find fulfilment.

You can help people to follow
frameworks for fulfilment

You can encourage people to choose which route they want to take and provide practical tools they can use to achieve their aims. If appropriate, you can then help them to continue to flow, focus, finish and find fulfilment.    

There are, of course, many frameworks that people can follow. These have often been passed on by pioneers who wanted to help others to succeed in education, psychology, business, sport, the arts, design or other fields.

Looking back, can you think of somebody who has offered people such a framework that they could follow in their own way? Here are some of the names that people mention when answering this question.

Lao Tzu passed on the four rules for living. Joseph Campbell described the heroic journey. Maria Montessori created a pioneering model in education. Abraham Maslow helped to give birth to humanistic psychology.

Martha Graham developed a new form of choreography. Peter Drucker helped to create modern management in organisations. Tim Galwey showed the inner game approach to playing sports.

Charles Garfield showed how individuals and teams could achieve peak performance. Jo Berry, whose father was killed in the Brighton bombing, and Patrick Magee, who planted the bomb, for showed how people could reconcile and build bridges for peace. Al Siebert provided guidelines that people could follow to survive and then thrive after tragedies.

Maya Angelou showed how to overcome oppression and inspire other people. Roger Fisher showed how people could find positive solutions to conflicts. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi highlighted the principles that people could follow to experience flow.

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

Describe a person who you believe offered people frameworks for fulfilment.  

Describe the specific things they did to offer people these frameworks.

Describe the specific things that happened as a result of them offering people these frameworks.

You can find out what
people want to achieve

Imagine that a person, team or organisation has asked for your help. They may want to tackle a challenge, continue to develop or reach a specific goal.

If you are working as a mentor, for example, you will prepare properly for the session. There are many ways to take this step. Here, for example, is the framework that I use before meeting a person.

Preparing For A Session: Some questions
to ask before meeting a person

Who is the person I am going to meet? What is happening in their world at the moment? What may be the challenges they face in their life and work? What may be their personal or professional goals? What are the real results they want to achieve? What may be their picture of success? 

What is the reason they want to meet? What may be the topics they want to discuss? What for them would make it a successful session? What are the practical things they may want to take away from the session to help them to achieve their goals?  

What do I know about the person’s interests outside work? Are they interested in sports, music, the arts, design or other activities? What are the things that may give the person positive energy? When may they feel most alive and creative? What else do I know about the person?

What are the person’s strengths? What are the activities in which they deliver As rather than Bs or Cs? How can they build on their strengths and manage the consequences of any weaknesses?

What do I know about the person’s successful style of working? What for them may have been the most satisfying projects – in the broadest sense of the word – that they have done in the past? What did they find satisfying about these projects? What were they principles they followed then? How can they follow these principles in the future?

When may they have tackled difficult challenges successfully? What may they have done right then? How can they follow these principles – plus maybe add other skills – to tackle similar challenges in the future? 

Looking ahead, how can I make the person feel welcome? How can I clarify the topics they want to explore? How can I show them I understand their hopes and aspirations? Looking the first theme they want to explore, how can I clarify the real results they want to achieve?

What are the positive models and practical tools I can offer to help them to achieve these goals? How can I pass on this knowledge in a way they can accept and use? What else can I do to help them to achieve their picture of success?

Bearing in mind these answers, I complete the following framework and mentally rehearse the session. The next step is to relax and get ready to welcome the person.

Imagine you have done all your preparation for the meeting. You will start the session by creating a positive environment in which the person or group feel at ease.

The next step will be to make clear contracts for the session. Assuming that you have already had contact with the person or group, you will have clarified their overall goals.

Different people will want to explore different questions. Here are some of the themes that individuals have asked to explore when I have been facilitating such sessions. 

How can I take the next step in my career? How can I feel more in control? How can I encourage my child – who loves to learn when pursuing their hobbies – but finds it difficult to deal with school? 

How can I manage my bosses who keep changing their minds? How can I turnaround a difficult team? How can we build a values driven organisation? How can we continue to be pacesetters and stay ahead of the game?

Bearing in mind the first topic they want to explore, it is important to clarify the real ‘What’ before moving on to the ‘How’. When I am working with an individual, for example, here are some of things I ask to clarify their aims.

Let’s look at the first theme you want to explore. Can you tell me a bit about what is happening at the moment?

Looking ahead, what are your aims? What are the real results you want to achieve? What is your picture of success?

Bearing in mind what you have said, as far as I understand it the real results you want to achieve – in order of priority – are: 

1) To …

2) To …

3) To …

Is that right? If so, is it okay to start exploring how to achieve these aims.?

Let’s return to your own life and work. Imagine that a person, team or organisation has asked for your help.

You have done some pre-work with them and established what they want to achieve from the session. This has led to you beginning to think about what you can offer to help them to achieve their aims.

Before exploring this further, however, try tackling the exercise on the theme of clarifying the client’s goals. This invites you to do the following things.

Write the name of the person, team or organisation that has asked for your help.  

Describe the specific goals that you believe they want you to help them to achieve.

Imagine that you have taken these steps. It will then be time to move on to the next stage.

You can offer people
frameworks for fulfilment

Imagine that you are working with person, team or organisation. The next step will be to clarify the frameworks you can offer to help them to achieve their aims. The knowledge that you offer may well depend on:

The specific goals the people want to achieve – their picture of success. 

The specific frameworks – the principles, positive models and practical tools – that you believe people can use to achieve their goals.

The specific things you can do to offer these ideas in a way that people find relevant and can use to achieve their goals.

Different people have their favourite frameworks that they offer to help individuals, teams and organisations. These are often determined by the philosophies and practical tools that they believe will help people to achieve their goals. Here are some examples.

John Whitmore helped people to use the GROW model to tackle challenges. This encouraged people to focus on their Goals, the Reality of the situation, their Options and their Will to reach the goals. You can discover more about this approach via the following link.

The GROW Approach

You will, of course, have your own approach to offering frameworks that help people to fulfil their aims.

Looking at my own work, I aim to provide positive models and practical tools that help people to flow, focus and finish. These frameworks include helping people:

To build on their strengths, pursue practical strategies and achieve their picture of success.

To build super teams that focus on their purpose, principles and picture of success.

To find creative solutions to challenges by focusing on clarity, creativity and concrete results.

To build values driven organisations that live their values, translate these into a clear vision and deliver visible results. 

To use Appreciative Inquiry to explore their positive history, build on their successful principles and follow these to achieve their picture of success.

The following links provide more information about each of these approaches.

The Strengths Approach

The Super Teams Approach

The Creative Problem Solving Approach

The Values Approach

The Appreciative Inquiry Approach

Imagine that you are working with a person, team or organisation. You will obviously have your own repertoire of frameworks for helping people to achieve success. Bearing these in mind, try answering the following questions.

What are their goals? What are the real results they want to achieve? What is their picture of success?

What are the frameworks – the positive models and practical tools – that I can offer people to help them to reach their goals. 

How can I offer these to people in way they can use to reach their goals?

If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites you to start by writing the name of the person, team or organisation you are aiming to help. It then invites you to do the following things.

Describe their specific goals. 

Describe the frameworks – the positive models and practical tools – you can offer to help them to achieve their goals. 

Describe how you can offer these in a way they can use to achieve their goals.

You can help people to follow
frameworks for fulfilment 

Imagine that you are working with a client who has opted to follow one of the frameworks. It can then be useful to help them:

To pursue their chosen strategies.  

To get some quick successes.  

To keep doing reality checks on the way towards achieving their goals.

You will have your own approach to helping the client to keep doing reality checks. Looking at my own work, I have encouraged people to keep a journal called My Development.

This involved them focusing on: a) What they are doing well and how they can do more of these things; b) What they can do better in the future. We then explore how they can translate these things into action. Here is the exercise. This can, of course, be adapted to help teams or organisations to continue to develop.

You will have your own way of helping people to follow frameworks they can use to reach their goals. Whatever approach you use, the aim will be to enable them to flow, focus, finish and, as a by-product, find fulfilment.

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

Describe the person, team or organisation that you would like to help to reach their goals. 

Describe the client’s specific goals. 

Describe the specific things you can do to, if appropriate, follow up with the client and help them to achieve their goals.

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