The Art of Strengths Coaching

P is for Photographic Memory

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There are many ways to find your strengths. One approach is to focus on the specific activity where you have the equivalent of a photographic memory.

The golf champion, for example, recalls the exact lie of the ball during a tournament. The chef recalls the exact ingredients of a special dish. The dancer recalls the steps in a ballet they performed 20 years previously.

Let’s explore where this happens for you.

Clarifying where you have
a photographic memory

“This exercise changed my career,” said one person.

“For years I had made a living facilitating workshops, but then I began doing individual follow up sessions with people.

“Suddenly I discovered that I had total recall about what happened in the one-to-one meetings. I remembered every detail about the individuals.

“Meeting them later, I recalled their personal background, experiences, talents, challenges, everything they said in the session.

“So I concentrated on doing more one-to-one coaching. This became my new career.”

Can you think of a specific activity where you recall almost every detail? You may do this when counselling people, teaching a class, managing crises, solving certain problems, scaling a mountain, leading teams or whatever.

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

Describe a specific activity where you have the equivalent of a photographic memory.

Describe some examples of where you have the equivalent of a photographic memory in this specific activity.

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Clarifying how you can use your
photographic memory in a positive way

Several years ago I worked with a soccer manager who was open to new ideas. He had total recall about what happened in matches.

This was helpful during his playing days, but he misused it when becoming a manager. He gave his players specific feedback about their performances, but unfortunately focused on their mistakes.

Savvy enough to see it wasn’t working, he began exploring other options. I was just one of many people from whom he sought ideas.

He invited me to sit beside him during a game. As the play unfolded, I asked him to describe what he saw. In one instance, he said:

“I watch for what players do when they do have the ball and when they don’t have the ball. Look at what just happened, for example, with our central midfielder player.

“He made himself available and controlled the ball well, but then he played a square pass. He could have advanced 10 yards further into the empty space in front of him.

“Surging forward in that way would have forced the opposition backwards. Suddenly we would have had an overlap with players able to home in on their goal.”

Bearing this in mind, I invited the coach to focus on when the midfield player had performed well. So I asked him:

“Looking back, has the central midfield player ever surged forward in that way? If so, when did he do it? What did he do right then?”

“Yes, I have seen him do that in several matches,” replied the coach.

“Taking the ball in his stride, he accelerated forward and put defences in a panic. This has often led to us creating goal scoring chances.

“Sometimes I think it is a confidence thing with him. If he feels confident, he moves forward. If he doesn’t, then he plays a square pass.”

The coach followed up by having a one-to-one session with the central midfielder. During it he reminded the player of when he had surged forward and helped the team to create chances. They then focused on when it would be appropriate to do this in future matches.

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

Describe the specific activity where you have the equivalent of a photographic memory.

Describe the specific things you can do to use this ability in a positive way.

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Putting yourself in situations where
you have a photographic memory

People can sometimes discount this ability because it seems to come easily. Sometimes they simply need to find the right forum for using this gift.

How can you keep putting yourself into the situations where you have the equivalent of a photographic memory? How can you keep developing? How can you use this ability to deliver peak performances?

Nicky is now the sales director of a company, but she had difficulties at school. It was then discovered she had a form of dyslexia. Backed by supportive parents, she excelled in drama and organising social events.

Leaving school, she took a job selling mobile phones, before joining a fledgling digital company. Showing a great aptitude for sales, she became their top account director. She can recall virtually every detail of every deal she has done in her life, both inside and outside work.

Nicky continues to build on her strengths. She spends much of her time visiting customers, whilst having a fine team around her who can run the daily sales operations.

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 the equivalent of a photographic memory.

Describe the specific things you can do to keep putting yourself into the situation where you have this ability.

Describe the specific benefits of putting yourself into the situation where you have this ability.

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