The Art of Strengths Coaching

P is for Philosophy, Principles And Practice

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Different people have different approaches to life. Some people focus on their philosophy, principles and practice. They take the following steps to clarify how they want to translate their aims into action.

Philosophy

People sometimes take the opportunity to clarify their philosophy of life, work or other activity. Different people take this step in different ways.

They may start by clarifying what they believe in or what they want to do in a certain area of life. They may say: “I believe …” or “I want to …”

Different people reflect on their philosophy at different times. A person may experience a difficult illness, for example, that gives them the chance to define what is really important. They define their inner compass for shaping their future life.

They may then say something like: “I believe it is important to have a sense of gratitude and also encourage people in life.”

Alternatively, they may say something like: “I want to devote the rest of my life to encouraging people and helping to build a better world.”

A person may also decide to define their professional philosophy. They may clarify their beliefs and what they want to achieve in their particular field.

An educator may say: “I believe it is important to encourage, educate and enable people to achieve ongoing success.”

A professional soccer coach may say: “I want to build a team that plays positive football and gets positive results.”

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

Describe a specific area or activity in which you would like to clarify your philosophy.

You may want to focus on clarifying your overall life philosophy or your philosophy in a particular activity.

Describe your philosophy in this area or activity.

You may want to start brainstorming by beginning with the words: “I believe it is important to …” or “I want to …”

Keep going until you feel empty. Then try to summarise your beliefs or the things you want to do. The things you write may evolve over the years. For the moment, however, write this summary as your philosophy.

Describe the reasons why you believe in this philosophy.

You may believe in the philosophy because it follows certain spiritual or other beliefs. You may also believe that following it will bring benefits to people.

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Principles

The philosophy is the ‘What’ and ‘Why.’ It clarifies what you believe in or what you want to do. It also describes why you believe in the approach.

The principles are the ‘How’. They outline the key strategies you can follow to translate the philosophy into action. Later we will explore how to put the principles into practice.

How to define the principles you can follow? One approach is to start by revisiting your philosophy. You can then brainstorm and settle on for, example, the three key principles you can follow to translate it into action.

My Philosophy is:

*

The principles I can follow to translate
this philosophy into action are:

*

*

*

You may be able to define the key principles in three headlines or, if you wish, expand them further. Looking back at my own work, for example, I spent many years working with people, teams and organisations.

The philosophy was: “I want to help people to build on their strengths and achieve their picture of success.”

The principles were: “I want to clarify people’s picture of success and then offer practical tools they can use: a) To build on their strengths; b) To pursue practical strategies; c) To achieve their picture of success.”

If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. As mentioned earlier, this invites you describe your philosophy and the key principles you can follow to translate it into action.

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Practice

Now comes the crunch part. Many people believe in philosophies and principles, but sometimes they find it challenging to put these into practice.

How to make this happen? Looking at the key principles, describe the specific things you can actually do to translate these into action.

Bill Walsh, the American Football coach, took this approach when encouraging all the employees of the San Francisco 49ers to follow certain principles.

He believed that if people delivered certain standards then the score would take care of itself. Although he never mentioned winning, the 49ers went on to win top prizes.

Below is a summary of the ways he invited all the employees – from ticket sellers to top players – to behave each day.

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Different people choose different ways to translate their philosophy into principles and then into practice. You will, of course, have your own way.

If you wish, try tackling the final exercise on this theme. This invites you to bring together all your previous work and do the following things.

Describe your philosophy in a specific area or activity.

Describe the principles you can follow to translate the philosophy into action.

Describe the specific things you can do to translate each of the principles into action.

Describe the specific benefits – both for you and for other people – of following the philosophy and translating the principles into practice.

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