The Art of Strengths Coaching

R is for Being Able To Relax, Refocus And Deliver Results

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There are many models for doing fine work. One approach is to start by clarifying the real results you want to achieve. It is then to go through the following steps.

Relax

You can relax and recentre.

Refocus

You can refocus and rehearse the strategies you can follow to achieve the desired results.

Results

You can follow your chosen rhythm and do your best to achieve the desired results.

Looking back, can you think of a situation when you went through some of these steps in your own way? This could have been in your personal or professional life.

You may have been taking an examination, giving a keynote speech, making a difficult decision, tackling a difficult challenge, leading a project or doing some other activity.

What did you do to relax and recentre? How did you refocus and rehearse your plan for tackling the task? How did you follow your chosen rhythm and do your best to achieve the results?

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

Describe a specific situation in the past when you chose to relax, refocus and do your best to deliver the desired results.  

Describe the specific things you did to go through these steps.

Describe the specific things that happened as a result of going through these steps.

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Relax and Recentre

Different people have different ways to take these steps. After completing a tiring task, for example, a person may choose to sleep, walk or simply potter around.

They may use the time to refresh their body and soul. On some occasions, they may also aim to reflect and learn from what they have experienced. After a while they may feel ready to explore their next possible challenge.

Great workers develop rituals that enable them to recentre. The actor follows their favourite routine before stepping on stage. The golfer practices their stroke before making a putt. Some individuals achieve this state by going through the following steps.

They develop a sense of inner calm by using deep breathing or another technique.  

They focus on their values and the things they believe are important. 

They begin turning their mind to the next thing they want to do in their life or work.  

“Be calm, controlled and centred,” is the advice that is often given to people. Sounds easy in theory, but it can be harder in practice, especially in the heat of battle.

A key element of anger management programmes, for example, is educating a person to stay calm when provoked. This involves a person going through the following stages.

They look ahead to anticipate difficult scenarios.

They choose a technique for staying calm in the situation. They may choose to use a keyword that acts as a reminder, for example, and enables them to count to 10 before reacting.

They role play the actual scene and learn to walk away from the trouble.

Other people use rituals for dealing with other situations. One person said:

“I have a ritual for emptying my head and relaxing when thinking negative thoughts.

“I put my hand to my head, grab the ‘thoughts’ and throw them away into the air.

“Sounds crazy, but I find it clears my head and makes me more open to positive thoughts.” 

Refocus and Rehearse

Imagine that you feel refreshed and want to refocus on the next thing you want to do in your life or work. You may want to write an article, run a marathon, facilitate a workshop, lead a team or whatever.

You will start by clarifying the real results you want to achieve and the strategies for achieving the picture of success. The next step will be to rehearse how to achieve your aims.

Great workers spend many hours rehearsing ways to achieve success. Sometimes this involves physically rehearsing implementing the strategies. Sometimes this is not possible, however, so they do lots of mental rehearsal.

There are many approaches to such rehearsal and below is one framework. This involves relaxing and working through the following steps.

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Imagine that you have refocused and also rehearsed implementing the strategies to achieve your picture of success. It will then be time to move on to the next stage.

Rhythm and Results

Great workers often follow their chosen rhythm to do fine work. One person said:

“Preparation is crucial. Going into the arena, I then need to hit the ground running and follow a certain rhythm.

“My best performances have come from being able to get into my rhythm. I have then been able to deliver the required results.

“Sometimes I have been distracted but, after some effort, I have been able to recover. On other occasions, however, it has been difficult to get into my rhythm and the results have suffered.”

Different people develop different rhythms for doing fine work. Sometimes it can take years, however, before people find and follow their best rhythm.

One approach is for individuals to organise their time in blocks. They do this when planning a day, week, month or even a year. They set aside time to relax and refocus. They then go into the arena and deliver the results.

If a person is a creative artist, for example, they may have a certain ritual for clicking into action. They may work for a set time, take a break and work for two hours. It may then be time to go for a walk, before returning to the work and continuing until they feel empty.

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This approach is obviously more difficult if you work in an organisation that has a certain rhythm. As ever, the key is to focus on what you can control in the situation.

One person tackled this challenge in following way. They said:

“I began by focusing on my working week. Some of my work was satisfying, but sometimes I felt disjointed. It seemed like I was fitting into other people’s patterns, rather than my own.

“Some give-and-take is obviously necessary when you work for a company. After all, the business won’t change to fit your rules, but things felt out of sync. So I sat down and planned the best way to follow my natural rhythm during the working week.

“My first step was to identify when and where I worked best. My most productive times in the office are in the morning – between 7.30 and 11.30. So I organised my diary to, as far as possible, be in charge of my own agenda during those times.

“My most creative work is done in a quiet place away from interruptions. So I found a quiet corner to work on my laptop away from the open plan office.

“I felt quite energetic working in the office on Monday and Tuesday, but then wanted to be on the road, visiting clients.

“So that is how I arranged my diary. Meeting customers on Wednesday and Thursday, with Friday spent working from home.

“Internal meetings remain a challenge, however, and I prefer those where I know the agenda. So I did two things.

“First, I emailed my boss the day before our regular catch ups to outline what I wanted to discuss. I did this diplomatically, of course, underlining we would be following his agenda.

“Second, when asked to attend other internal meetings, I requested the agenda before I accepted the request.

“Taking these steps helped me to be much more productive. I now feel more in sync with my preferred working pattern.”

Looking ahead, can you think of a situation when you may want to relax, refocus and deliver the desired results? You may want to take these steps when making a transition in your life, doing a particular project, tackling a challenge or whatever.

What can you do to relax and recentre? How can you refocus and rehearse pursuing your chosen strategies? How can you do your best to achieve the picture of success?

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

Describe a specific situation in the future when you may want to relax, refocus and do your best to deliver the desired results.  

Describe the specific things you can do then to go through these steps.  

Describe the specific things that may happen as a result of going through these steps.

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