The Art of Strengths Coaching

F is for ‘What You Focus On, You Become’

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What people put into their system – what they focus on – has a strong influence on how they feel.

If they study success, they are more likely to feel optimistic. If they study failure, they are more likely to feel depressed.

People should not ignore reality, of course, but it helps if they also study solutions.

Let’s explore how you can focus on what you want to become.

Clarifying what
you focus on now

Some societies assail their people with negative messages. The media reports bad news, whilst the powers-that-be spend their time arguing.

Even the most caring people can become disillusioned. Unfortunately this can also affect people around them.

“Ten years ago I changed dramatically,” said one person.

“Being a parent, I wanted my children to grow up happily. But then one day I got a shock.

“My son asked me: ‘Is the world going to end?’

“My answer was, ‘Of course not,’ but I wanted to know why he asked the question.

“He had been looking at my doom and gloom environmental magazines. This was also embodied in the mood of despair I sometimes expressed when friends came round for dinner.

“Suddenly I took notice. I wanted to build a happier world, but I was poisoning my own home.

“Now I take magazines that show practical ways we can improve the world, rather than those that fill people with despair.

“It was a tough lesson.”

Looking at your life, do you focus on things that are positive or negative? Do you count your blessings or burdens?

Do you spend time with people who are creators or complainers? Do you concentrate on beauty or ugliness, solutions or problems, hope or despair?

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

Describe the specific things you focus on now.

Describe the specific consequences of focusing on these things – both the pluses and potential minuses.

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Clarifying what you want
to focus on in the future

How to focus on positive things? One approach is to start by clarifying the things that give you positive energy. Here are some of the steps that people said they chose to take after making that list.

I chose to:

Count my blessings … Build on my strengths … Spend time with Encouragers … Care for my garden … Create beautiful things … Play my favourite music.

Give to other people … Visit art galleries … Walk by the sea … Study solutions, rather than problems … Clarify my achievements at the end of the day.

The hardest thing can be to translate the ideas into action. Sometimes this calls for creating new habits. You may remember the old story about Gandhi.

One day a mother brought her son to see the great man and said:

“Can you please tell him to stop eating sugar?”

Gandhi asked them to come back in 2 weeks.

The date duly arrived and he told the boy to stop eating sugar.

The mother thanked him but, before leaving, she asked:

“Why couldn’t you tell him that two weeks ago?”

“I had to give up sugar first,” said Gandhi.

He believed it was important to live the message if he was going to be a positive model.

There are many philosophies regarding how we make ourselves feel. One approach is to focus on the things we choose to put into our system.

Good things – or garbage – can have a profound influence on the way we feel. This has implications for both ourselves 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 want to focus on in the future.

Describe the specific consequences of focusing on these things – both for you and for other people.

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