The Art of Strengths Coaching

P is for People Who Aim To Be Positive, Professional And Peak Performers  

There are many ways to do fine work. Some people take this step by aiming to be positive, professional and peak performers. They aim to do their best during their time on the planet.

Different people take these steps in different ways. Let’s explore how they can translate this approach into action.

Positive

People make choices every minute. They can choose to be positive or negative, to take responsibility or avoid responsibility. The choices they make have consequences – both for themselves and other people.

Some people choose to be positive realists. They have a positive attitude but are also good at reading reality. Such people focus on what they can control in situations.

Different people take different journeys towards choosing this approach. Some learn from positive models – such as their parents or teachers. Some choose to take the positive route after having a particular experience.

This was highlighted for me when travelling in a London taxi. The driver greeted me cheerily and so, after a bit, I asked him if he had always been positive. Here is a summary of what he said.

Yes, I have always been positive, but this was reinforced when our daughter got leukemia. This taught us the value of appreciating life.

She eventually recovered from the illness, but we learned some good lessons. We spend lots of time doing things we love and enjoy life each day.

Different people choose different ways to maintain a positive attitude. Here are some of the approaches they may follow.

People who maintain
a positive attitude

They have a sense of gratitude … They count their blessings rather than their burdens … They choose their attitude each day … They focus on controlling the controllables … They do things that give them positive energy – such as walking, gardening, playing their favourite music or doing other activities … They are generous and kind. 

They spend time with positive people … They see things in perspective … They serve something greater than themselves – such as a spiritual belief or a sense of vocation … They follow the principles they believe in … They keep creating a sense of purpose – such as doing stimulating projects or aiming to leave a positive legacy.

Imagine that you want to continue to have a positive attitude. How can you do this in your own way? What will be the benefits – both for you and other people?

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 maintain a positive attitude.

Describe the specific benefits of doing these things.

Professional

Great workers often build on their strengths, do satisfying work and aim to achieve their picture of success. They also follow certain disciplines to do their personal best.

They start by preparing properly. They focus on the real results they want to achieve and clarify the key strategies they can follow to give themselves the greatest chance of success.

They rehearse what they are going before entering their version of the arena. Moving into action, they then aim to be super professional and follow their chosen rhythm.

Such workers keep doing the right things in the right way every day. They love to make lists in their heads and cross off the items. They also often enjoy the journey as well as reaching the goal.

Some people have natural self-discipline whilst some learn it from working with other professionals. Great organisations, for example, make sure that potential employees know the professional standards they must deliver. Here is an example of the information that one organisation presents to people before they join.

They describe this as The Professional Deal. They make sure that prospective employees are clear on both the organisation’s and the individual’s role in working to achieve the goals. People can then decide if they want to deliver these professional standards.

Imagine that you want to continue to be professional. How can you do this in your own way? What will be the benefits – both for you and other people?

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 continue to be professional.

Describe the specific benefits of doing these things.

Peak Performances

Great workers continue to be professional and aim to deliver peak performances. Looking back, can you think of a time when you gave your personal best? You may have been managing a crisis, leading a team, singing on stage or doing another activity.

What did you do right then to do your personal best? What were the principles you followed? How can you follow those principles – plus maybe add other skills – in the future?

Great workers continually do the basics and, when appropriate, add the brilliance. They maintain high professional standards and sometimes add something special.

Different people do this in different ways. Let’s look at one person who made this happen.

Chris Hoy – Focusing On The
Process Of Riding The Perfect Race

Chris Hoy, the Olympic cyclist, made a habit of setting big goals. Breaking these down into smaller targets, he focused on the step-by-step process of working to achieve these aims. This included visualising and riding the perfect race.

Chris gave an interview to Michael Johnson, who himself won four Olympic gold medals, for the video series Chasing Perfection. In it he explained what he learned from working with Steve Peters, the psychiatrist who helps people to perform at their best.

Here is a summary of what Chris said. You can see the full interview via the following link.

Chris Hoy Interview

When I met Steve, he explained how he could and could not help. He said that it was not possible to suddenly become super human and conjure magical performances out of thin air.  

What it was possible to do, however, was to help me to do what I was fully capable of doing. It was also possible to help me to do this under the most extreme pressures.

This would be particularly relevant in front of Olympic crowds where there might also be many distractions. For me it would be about focusing on my performance. Anything that was irrelevant and out of my control, forget it.  

The key would be hone in on the A-B-C process that I knew worked rather than worry about the outcome. If you perform at your best and focus on the process, the result will take care of itself.

Chris also describes how Steve prepared him to deal with potential challenges. Before one competition, for example, Steve asked him what he would do if one of his rivals went just before him and set a new world record.

Chris said that he did not want to think about such an issue. Steve explained that it was important to clarify how to respond to such challenges, however, rather than ignore them. Otherwise it is like somebody saying:

Don’t think of a pink elephant.

Steve urged him to practice how to take positive steps to deal with such potential issues. Chris explained this in the following way.

Steve said that, from now on whenever you get a negative thought between now and the Games – there are only two weeks to go – I want you to visualise your race.  

It is only a minute long. Do it in real time, from the moment you are at the start gate. 

The count down, the deep breaths, the snap out of the gate, the first half lap … Visualise the whole race. 

Chris says that the anticipated challenges actually appeared, in triplicate.

I got to the race on the night itself and it seemed like Steve had some sort of crystal ball.

I was to ride last. With four riders to go, including myself, the guy broke the world record.

Three riders to go another guy broke the world record. The guy before me broke the world record again.  

Instead of panicking and changing my strategy, I was so focused on myself and getting my ride out.

Chris went on to ride his perfect race. He focused on the process, performed at his personal best and won the prize.

Imagine you want to deliver peak performances. How can you do this in your own way?

One approach is to build on your strengths. It is to focus on the activities in which you have the ability to deliver As rather than Bs or Cs. It is then to be positive, professional and do your personal best.

It is also to embody the concept of constant improvement. One approach is to keep focusing on: a) The specific things you are doing well and how you can do more of these; b) The specific things you can do better and how.

You may want to follow these principles when encouraging a person, doing a creative project or tackling a challenge. You may want to do so when acting a counsellor, educator, trusted advisor, leader or in another role.

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

Describe the specific things you can do to do your best to deliver peak performances.

Describe the specific benefits of doing these things.

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