The Art of Strengths Coaching

O is for Observing Properly In Order To Be A Good Operator


Great workers are good at reading reality. They have the ability to observe what is actually happening in their chosen field.

They may be facilitating a workshop, tackling a technical problem or focusing on another activity in which they excel. Such workers go through the following steps to observe what is happening.

They see the big picture and the small details.

They see the patterns – both the successful and unsuccessful patterns – and the possible consequences.

They see the practical strategies that can be followed to achieve the picture of success.

Great workers are also good operators in their field. They know how to implement the right strategy in the right way to deliver the right results.

Looking at your own work, where are you good at reading reality and achieving success? You may combine these abilities when encouraging people, leading particular projects, tackling certain kinds of challenges 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 observe things properly and are also a good operator.

Describe the specific things you do to observe what is happening in this activity.

Describe the specific things you then do to be a good operator in this activity.

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Great workers are often a mixture of scientist and artist. Combining the heart and head, they have what is called strategic intuition. They are able to read reality and also translate this into a realistic vision for success.

“The hardest thing is to watch what is actually happening,” said one of my teachers.

“Many people have confirmation bias. They see what they want to see, rather than see reality. Some people also fall into the trap of quickly making interpretations.

“Good decision making calls for gathering data. By the way, feelings are also data. You can then make good decisions, even during a drama.

“Look at people’s behaviour and the consequences. These provide the keys to what is really happening.”

This message was reinforced when I visited George Lyward, who achieved outstanding results at Finchden Manor. This was a therapeutic community for troubled boys.

Hundreds of social workers travelled to its location, near Tenterden in Kent, to seek the secret of his success. Walking around the ramshackle huts, they saw boys playing guitars, kicking footballs, tending gardens and, in some cases, engaged in study.

Finally the visitors crammed into the large hall and bombarded George with questions.

“What therapy do you believe in,” they asked. “What is the role of the staff? They seem to do little except watch the boys.”

“You are right, they watch the boys,” said George.

“Watching is one of the hardest things to do in life. Our staff members watch the boys painting, mending cars, playing music, helping each other or whatever.

“They look for when the boy ‘comes alive’. They then nurture the boy’s talent and help them to shape their future life.”

Let’s return to the activity where you are a good observer and operator. How can you build on these strengths?

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

Describe the specific activity where you observe things properly and are also a good operator. 

Describe the specific things you can do to pursue this activity in the future.

Describe the specific benefits – both for yourself and other people – of pursuing this activity where you are good observer and operator.

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