The Art of Strengths Coaching

A is for Absorption, Adventure and Achievement

Maria Montessori, the educator, said that children often learn by becoming totally absorbed in an activity. They then enjoy the adventure of learning. Finally they reach the goal and experience a sense of achievement.

Many adults go through a similar process when developing. Looking back on your life, when have you gone through these stages?

Perhaps you started by settling on something you wanted to achieve. You may have aimed to write an article, do a piece of gardening, master a skill, learn a language or whatever.

Becoming completely absorbed in the subject, you embarked on a journey of adventure. You kept working hard and enjoyed a sense of fulfilment when reaching the destination.

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

Describe a time when you went through the stages of absorption, adventure and achievement.

Describe what you did right then – the principles you followed – towards your chosen goal.

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Imagine that you want to follow some of these steps again in the future. Let’s explore how to make this happen.


If you wish, start by listing the activities in which you become fully absorbed. You may experience this feeling when painting a picture, creating a meal, tackling a certain kind of problem, leading a particular project or whatever. Try completing the following sentence.

The kinds of activities in which
I become fully absorbed are:

When I …

When I …

When I …

Would you like to focus more on any of these activities in the future? If so, is there any particular project that you would like to tackle? You may want to write an article, renovate a house, develop a skill, solve a problem, tackle a specific challenge or whatever.

Let’s assume you want to tackle a specific project. How to make this happen? One approach is to look back at what works for you and follow these principles in the future.

Earlier you were asked to think of a time when you went through the process of absorption, adventure and achievement. Looking back at this example, what did you do to become absorbed in it completely?

Different people have different ways for becoming immersed in a project. For example, some people need:

To clarify the specific goal, clarify the benefits and commit to achieving the goal;

To set things up to succeed, prepare properly and set aside time to become absorbed in the project;

To follow certain rituals to go into concentration mode and then move into action.

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 want to absorb yourself.

Describe the specific benefits of doing the project – both for yourself and other people.

Describe the specific things you can do to absorb yourself in the project.

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Different people take these steps in different ways, but many love the feeling of adventure. One person explained this in the following way.

I love discovering new things when doing a project. This helps me to develop as a person. But, more importantly, it also helps the project to develop.

Certainly the original goals must be met. But sometimes these are developed to produce something even more successful.

Many people experience this sense of adventure. Like in the artistic journey, they become absorbed in the process. This leads them along highways and byways.

Sometimes they even go down cul-de-sacs. But then they return to following the main map towards their goals.

This adventure often involves going through the creative process of opening up and closing down.

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You will often start by opening up and gathering lots of information about the topic. After a while you will want to summarise what you have learned and maybe become more focused.

This will lead to closing down and integrating those ideas you want to pursue in the project. Focusing on the next step, you may again go through the process of opening up and closing down.

The key is to know when to open up – to adventure – and when to close down. This calls for assimilating the learning and then refocusing on what you want to achieve.

You will, of course, have your own way of developing during the adventure phase. If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme.

Describe the specific things you can do to adventure, learn and develop when doing your chosen project.

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Sometimes you may want to become absorbed and adventure to simply enjoy the journey. This can lead to learning, development and making sense of things. Sometimes you may want to follow this path to achieve a specific goal.

So how can you be a good finisher? Take another look at a specific project you completed in the past. What did you do right to finish it successfully? How can you follow these principles to finish your chosen project?

You will have your own way of finishing, but here are some suggestions. It may be useful:

To set aside a block of time to complete the project successfully;

To make the best use of your prime times – the times of the day when you have most energy;

To follow your successful pattern for finishing, follow your daily disciplines and encourage yourself on the journey;

To achieve small goals each day on the road to achieving the big goal;

To flow, focus, finish and – as a by-product – find fulfilment.

There are many ways to develop. One approach is to go through the stages of absorption, adventure and achievement. If you wish, tackle the final exercise on this theme.

Describe the specific things you can do to finish the project and have a sense of achievement.

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