The Art of Strengths Coaching

R is for Personal Radar

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Peak performers often have an extra ability in the areas where they perform brilliantly. They seem to know what will happen before it happens.

Al Siebert, author of The Survivor Personality, called this gift personal radar. He began studying survivors when joining the paratroopers.

Looking at the hardened professionals, he found that many survivors demonstrated a specific characteristic. He wrote:

“During our training I noticed that combat survivors have a type of personal radar always on scan.

“Anything that happens, or any noise draws a quick, brief look. They have a relaxed awareness.

“I began to realise it wasn’t just luck or fate that these were the few who came back alive. Something about them as people had tipped the scales in their favour.”

Peak performers in sports, business and many other fields possess a similar quality. This gives them more time and space to use their repertoire of talents to deliver great results.

Let’s explore where you may have this ability.

Clarifying where you
have good radar

What is the specific activity where you have good radar? Where do you quickly see patterns? Where do you quickly see the desired picture of success?

You may quickly get to the heart of the matter when encouraging people, solving particular problems, tackling certain kinds of projects or whatever. Different people have different kinds of radar.

Great footballers, for example, often have more time and space than other players. Demonstrating superb positional sense, they seem several moves ahead of the opposition.

Great retailers often have an intuitive feeling for selling. Walking into a store, they can immediately point out several things that can be done improve the business.

Ellen MacArthur, the round-the-world yachtswoman, talked about reading the waves to anticipate future sailing conditions. She then worked out the strategy for reaching her destination.

So what happens when people use their personal radar? Entering the situation in which they excel, they feel alive and alert.

Employing their antennae, they rapidly gather information about the following things.

They quickly see patterns and anticipate what may happen.

They see the potential picture of success.

They see how to pursue the best strategy for achieving the picture of success.

You will have good radar in some activities, but not in others. It is important to be as specific as possible when clarifying where you may have this ability.

You may use this gift, for example, when encouraging people. If so, do you have it when working with people who think like pioneers, creators, performers, engineers, organisers or whatever?

It’s also important to know where you have bad radar. You can then develop a strategy for dealing with those situations.

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

Describe the specific activity where you may have good radar.

Describe some specific examples that may show you have good radar in this specific activity.

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Clarifying where you also
have a good repertoire

Radar provides lots of information, but this is only the starting point. You may have a natural talent for seeing patterns in certain areas.

This ability grows with age and experience. But you may need to develop your repertoire of skills to capitalise on such insight. This will enable you to move from awareness to action to achievement.

Wayne Gretzky, the ice hockey player, is often quoted as saying that he scored so many goals because:

“I skate to the part of the rink where the puck will appear.”

He had great radar on the rink. But he also had the required repertoire of skills for delivering results.

Radar is given. But the greatest area for growth lies in expanding your repertoire.

There are many components in your repertoire. These include your:

Strengths – the natural talents you have been given.

Strategies – the knowledge, models and wisdom you have gathered.

Skills – the tools and techniques you have developed to get results.

What is the specific activity where you have good radar and also a wide repertoire? This may be the activity you mentioned before or it may be another.

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 radar and repertoire required to deliver results.

Describe the specific things you can do to develop your repertoire in this specific activity.

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Clarifying how to use your radar
and repertoire to deliver results

Peak performers reach into their repertoire and use the right tools to achieve the required results.

Different individuals obviously do this in different ways. The route they take will depend on whether they are a counsellor, educator, engineer, athlete, crisis manager or whatever.

People often start, however, by clarifying the picture of success. They then try different strategies to see what works. Pursuing their chosen strategy, they employ their skills to achieve success.

“Every client is different, but I do follow a certain model,” said one counsellor.

“Meeting a troubled person, I make them feel welcome and quickly look for behavioural patterns. I then imagine what I want them to be feeling, thinking and saying when they leave the session.

“Moving on, I try many different strategies to make contact with the person and clarify their goals. Drawing on my experience, I then use different tools to enable them to tackle challenges and succeed.”

Let’s go back to situation where you have good radar. Bearing in mind the end goal, you will try many things to see what works. Looking for signs of success, you will then pursue these strategies.

Sometimes there may be deviations, but you will then get back on track. You will keep working hard until you achieve the required results.

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 radar and repertoire required to deliver results.

Describe the specific things you can do to put yourself into these situations and use your radar and repertoire to deliver results.

Describe the specific benefits of doing these things and delivering results.

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