The Art of Strengths Coaching

G is for Great Days, Good Days And Grunt Days

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Great days are when you fly and feel exhilarated. Good days are when you do fine work and feel satisfied. Grunt days are when you feel as if you are just doing grunt work.

Sometimes we create these different kinds of days. Other times they seem to happen to us.

Great workers make the best use of each kind of day. They also ask:

“How to turn a grunt day into a good day and a good day into a great day?”

Let’s explore how you can enjoy these three kinds of days.

Great Days

Can you remember when you enjoyed a great day?

You felt alive, alert and able to do fulfilling work. Perhaps you were immersed in writing, solving a problem, building a house or whatever.

What did you do right to help to create such a day? Different people have different methods for shaping such great days.

Some people, for example, plan the day ahead and organise their time in blocks. This gives them the chance to flow and focus on a piece of work.

They follow their own rituals and rhythm. Encouraging themselves on the journey, they build in time for rest and recovery. This gives them the opportunity to do good work and, when necessary, to rise to the occasion.

Looking back at the end of the day, they reflect on what went well and how they can follow similar principles in the future. They also explore what they can do better next time and how.

Other people will have other rituals. Mason Currey’s book Daily Rituals: How Artists Work gives an insight into the different patterns people follow to do superb work. You can discover more via the following link.

http://masoncurrey.com/

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

Describe the specific times when you have had great days.

Describe the specific things you did to help to create and make the best use of the great days.

Describe the specific things you can do to follow similar principles – play maybe add other skills – to create and make the best use of great days in the future.

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Good Days

Can you remember when you enjoyed a good day? Good days provide a sense of satisfaction, even if you do not hit the heights.

What for you are good days? You may set specific goals, sweat – but in a good way – and see positive results.

You are probably working with the right people, in the right place and doing the right things. Perhaps you are pursuing your labour of love, tackling a tough challenge, helping your team to achieve a target or whatever.

Certainly there may be obstacles. But part of the satisfaction comes from finding solutions and reaching the goals. Looking back, you recall both the joy and the learning.

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

Describe the specific times when you have had good days.

Describe the specific things you did to help to create and make the best use of the good days.

Describe the specific things you can do to follow similar principles – play maybe add other skills – to create and make the best use of good days in the future.

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Grunt Days

Can you remember when you made the best use of a grunt day?

Such days may get off to a difficult start. Tasks dominate the diary and the biorhythms seem against you. Something isn’t right and it feels like pushing water uphill.

How to make the best use of such days? One approach is to take time to draw breath and focus on your life compass. People want to see a connection between their daily tasks and their life goals. So may you ask:

“What are my life goals? What is my overall picture of success? How will today’s work contribute to me achieving the picture of success??

Sometimes this can be a struggle, but it is important to find a connection between what you are doing and your overall life goals. Doing so can help to make your soul sing.

Alexandr Solzhenitsyn highlights this capacity in his book One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich.

He describes how Ivan Denisovich Shukov, who is serving a ten-year sentence in the Gulag, takes a pride in his daily work. Several commenters say that Shukov’s approach includes the following themes.

He acts under a moral code that allows him to continue to respect himself … He no longer thinks much of home or freedom but instead thinks about that day, taking pride in his work as a mason.

In working hard at his masonry and taking pride in building a good, strong, straight wall, he is in effect subverting the prison authorities who seek to punish him by making him work.

Shukhov, instead, is gaining self-esteem by learning a new skill in prison and making his actions meaningful to himself.

Shukhov finds a sort of freedom through work because he is no longer working for the authorities but for himself.

He even wants to carry on building when the signal for the end of the day sounds.

Fortunately we do not live in a Gulag, but there may still be tough days. Let’s assume you reframe the situation and make the best of the grunt day.

You start by finding a larger meaning in your work – for yourself or for other people – and then set your goals for the day.

Looking ahead, you break down the day into chunks. If possible, you build in time to re-energise yourself at various points during the day.

Starting out on the journey, you get an early success. You focus on the list of things to do and encourage yourself by ticking items as you complete them along the way.

Taking a break, you again refocus on your lifetime picture of success and then plunge back into the work. Looking back at the end of the day, you feel almost exhilarated.

Sounds odd? Perhaps, but like Shukhov you may have beaten the system. You have defined and followed your goals. The grunt day may even get a 7/10.

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

Describe the specific times when you have had grunt days.

Describe the specific things you did to make the best use of the grunt days.

Describe the specific things you can do to follow similar principles – play maybe add other skills – to make the best use of grunt days in the future.

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