The Art of Strengths Coaching

P is for People Learning From Positive Models

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People learn from two kinds of positive models. The first are people we learn from in the family, education, work and society. They show us positive ways of behaving in our daily lives and work.

The second are positive models – such as positive frameworks – that help us to understand and navigate experiences. Such frameworks may also provide practical tools that help us to make things work successfully.

Looking back, can you think a positive model that you have learned from in your life? This may have been a person who acted as a good model or a positive framework that helped you to make sense of experience.

Looking at my own life, for example, I was fortunate to meet Alec Dickson, the founder of Voluntary Service Overseas and Community Service Volunteers. He showed me how it was possible to help others by giving service.

Moving on to my professional life, I was fortunate to study people who did satisfying work and built super teams. They provided positive models and practical tools that showed how people could combine their talents and do great work.

If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites you to look back on your life and do the following things.

Describe a positive person or a positive framework that has acted as a positive model for you in your life or work.

Describe the specific things you learned from the positive model.

Describe the specific things that happened as a result of you using the lessons you learned from the positive model.

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Looking ahead, are there any things you can do to help people to learn from positive models? You can, for example, choose either:

To act as a positive model for other people.

To pass on positive models that people can use in their own ways to achieve success.

Look around the web and you will find many people who want to give good advice to others. They urge people to be true to themselves, follow their passion, build great teams or whatever.

That sounds fine, but people want more than good words. They want practical tools that work. A person may react to such phrases by saying something like the following.

“Can you show me, rather than just tell me? I know what I should do, but how do I actually do it?

“I know the theory about how to be healthy and develop a satisfying career. I also know the theory about how to build a successful work place.

“I have lots of motivation and will work hard, but can you give me some practical tips? I will then follow these in my own way to achieve success.”

Great educators, for example, start by clarifying what a person wants to learn and the real results they want to achieve. They then provide positive models and practical tools that work. The person can use the ideas in their own ways to achieve success.

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How to provide such models? One approach is to study success. It is to study what works, simplify what works – but in in profound way, and share what works.

Certainly this was the advice I was given when I began working in therapeutic communities. The mentors I had urged me to study the kinds of therapy programmes that worked. The next step was to translate these principles into practical tools that the young people I worked with could use to achieve success.

People make choices every minute. The choices they make, however, are influenced by the positive or negative models they have had in the family, education, work and society.

They are also influenced by whether or not they have studied success. Learning about positive models that work can help them to succeed in their personal or professional lives.

Let’s return to your own life and work. How can you continue to act as a positive model for other people? How can you pass on knowledge that helps them to succeed?

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

Describe the specific things you can do to act as a positive model or pass on positive models to people.

Describe the specific things that may happen as a result of you acting as a positive model or passing on positive models to people.

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