The Art of Strengths Coaching

O is for Making Good Use Of Your OCD

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Peak performers often have a positive form of OCD. By this I mean Obsessive Compulsive Discipline rather than Disorder.

They tend to be obsessively disciplined in the activities where they excel. Such people know how to use this obsession, however, rather than be used by it.

Let’s explore where you may have such tendencies in certain activities.

You can recognise
where you have OCD

Recently I was asked by a retail chain to identify the characteristics of their great store managers.

Virtually all of them were extremely systematic in the way they organised their work. One person said:

“I get into the store two hours before everybody else. After organising my day, I walk the store, making sure everything looks perfect.

“When I am in other supermarkets, I find myself pulling the tins forward so they are flush with the edge of the shelf.”

Peak performers have natural discipline in the areas where they are brilliant. They organise things to, as far as possible, create predictability. This gives them freedom to respond when the unexpected happens.

So what are the activities where you have such OCD? Where do you make lists and love crossing off each item? Where do you structure things and get upset if something happens to destroy this order?

You may be obsessive about exercising, running aspects of your business, organising your time, rehearsing what will happen during the day or whatever.

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

Describe the specific activity where you have some elements of OCD.

Describe the specific ways you express elements of OCD in this activity.

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You can recognise the pluses
and minuses of your OCD

Peak performers are systematic in their areas where they perform best. Such an approach does, of course, have both pluses and minuses.

The pluses may be:

They stay ahead of the game, are fully prepared, know some areas in great detail, get things done efficiently, follow a predictable rhythm, anticipate future scenarios, get a sense of satisfaction or whatever.

The potential minuses may be:

They appear anti-social when doing their work, sometimes appear odd, may affect others with their OCD behaviour or whatever.

“I am obsessive when running a workshop,” said one facilitator.

“I like to visit the venue before the event or, if that is not possible, look at photos on the web and call the person in charge of the building.

“I make sure that the room has natural light, is big enough and there is no outside noise.

“Frequently I have been told by event organisers: ‘Yes, it is big enough, we have had many more people in the room.’ But I want to know the exact dimensions.

“On the day of the workshop, I arrive 90 minutes before the start, set-up the room properly and produce all the flip charts.

“I do this even though I may have run such a session 100 times. Going through this ritual ensures I have rehearsed everything before the first participant arrives.”

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

Describe the pluses of your OCD behaviour in certain activities.

Describe the potential minuses of your OCD behaviour.

Describe the specific things you can do to build on the pluses and minimise the minuses.

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You can use your OCD
to achieve success

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder was so named because a person allowed the obsessions to rule them.

Peak performers do the opposite. They use their Obsessive Compulsive Discipline to help them to reach their goals.

They know their OCD behaviour.

They know how to build on the pluses and minimise the minuses.

They know how to use these disciplines to achieve success.

“I have strong control needs,” said one manager.

“These are expressed in several ways. For example, I love to keep my email inbox absolutely clear.

“Sometimes people suggest I relax, rather than clear the messages. What they don’t realise is that clearing my inbox is very relaxing.

“I then feel in control and able to concentrate on everything else. Sometimes it is not possible to give a considered response to some messages, of course, but then I send a holding email.

“People say I have a similar pattern in other areas. For example, I tend to deal quickly with my ‘emotional in-box’.

“When confronted with an issue, I take control by either dealing with it straight away or doing something to buy time before getting back with a considered response.

“I like to have a clear mind, rather than lots of clutter. This helps me to be on top of my game when it matters.”

Peak performers learn how to channel their obsessions and use these to help them to achieve success.

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

Describe the specific things you can do to make good use of your OCD.

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