The Art of Strengths Coaching

S is for Developing In A Stimulating, Steady Or Step Change Way  

There are many ways to develop. This article explores the following approaches.

The Stimulating Way

You can develop by doing something you find stimulating. You may aim to follow a passion, learn new skills, pursue a creative project or tackle a stimulating challenge. You then feel alive, make new discoveries and feel you are developing.

The Steady Way

You can develop by steadily improving at something you are already doing. You may continue to pursue a craft, nurture your garden, deepen your knowledge or hone your skills. You are happy to keep making incremental improvements on the long journey from 7/10 to 10/10.

The Step Change Way

You can develop by making a step change in your life or work. You may see things in a fresh way that enables you to make big and beneficial changes. You then implement this new approach in a way that produces positive results both for yourself and other people.

Sometimes you may go through all three stages. Let’s explore each of these approaches to development.

The Stimulating Way 

Looking back, can you think of a time when you developed by doing something you found stimulating? You may have done an enjoyable project, gone on a course, explored a different culture or pursued an exciting activity.

Looking back, what was the trigger that ensured you moved from thought to action? What were the principles you followed when pursuing the activity? What did you learn from going on this journey?

People love to do things they find stimulating. As John Dewey said: “The learner learns what the learner wants to learn.” They then often embark on a journey of absorption, adventure and achievement.

Kiran Bir Sethi founded a movement that inspires children to develop by following their passions and helping to build a better world. Here is what she said on the Design For Change website. You can discover more via the following link.

Design For Change

Children and adults learn through the Design for Change Challenge that “I Can” are the two most powerful words a person can believe. Children who have discovered this are changing their world.

This year, Design for Change reaches 34 countries and over 300,000 schools inspiring hundreds of thousands of children, their teachers and parents, to celebrate the fact change is possible and that they can lead that change! 

The challenge asks students to do four very simple things: Feel, Imagine, Do and Share. 

Children are dreaming up and leading brilliant ideas all over the world, from challenging age-old superstitions in rural communities, to earning their own money to finance school computers to solving the problem of heavy school bags – children are proving that they have what it takes to be able to ‘design’ a future that is desired.  

Design For Change provides many materials that children can use to channel their talents. They can then develop by focusing on the four steps Feel, Imagine, Do, Share. Here is part of a pack that can be downloaded from the following website.

http://www.dfcworld.com/SITE

The Steady Way

You can develop by steadily improving at something you are already doing. There may be times, of course, when you take big leaps forwards. But then you may be quite happy to keep improving in an incremental way.

This is a path that is often taken by people who settle on pursuing their craft. They love to dive deep and look forward to following their passion each day.

Such people often quickly get to 7/10, but then comes the long, exponential climb towards achieving 10/10. This can take a lifetime of learning and improving, but it can be a joyous journey.

This is the route I have taken in my work, though there were a couple of big transformational changes in my early career. The first involved moving from working in a factory for 6 years to working in an office. The second involved moving on to doing voluntary work and then working with troubled teenagers.

Since then, however, I have followed a fairly steady route. The theme has always been to encourage people to build on their strengths and achieve their picture of success.

There are both pluses and minuses to pursuing the steady route. The pluses include following your passion, experiencing a sense of flow and steadily improving. The minuses can include missing out on taking big steps or maybe becoming too narrow.

People who take this route can find ways to build on the pluses and minimise the dangers of the minuses. They are then more likely to continue to develop.

The Step Change Way 

You may make a step change in your life or work. This could be on a philosophical, psychological or physical level. You may then translate this into practical actions that produce positive results for yourself or other people.

Different people make step changes in different ways. A person may have  a health scare and make a dramatic change in their lifestyle. A person may make a creative breakthrough and go into another dimension in their work.

An athlete may hit a new peak that then becomes their normal level of performance. A pioneer may produce a transformational product that leads to companies changing the way they operate. People adopt a new paradigm – a new way of looking at the world – that leads to massive changes in societies.

Different people are also triggered into making step changes in different ways. A person may have a positive vision that shows great possibilities for themselves or other people. Alternatively, they may experience a shock and choose to adopt a more rewarding way of living.

A person or a group of people may start by embracing a new way of thinking – such as a new belief system, mental model or paradigm. They may then change their psychological approach and translate this into physical action. They get some quick wins, get into a positive cycle and develop a pattern of achieving ongoing success

Today there are many people who are taking such steps. Social enterprises such as The Ashoka Organization, The Unreasonable Group and the Singularity University, for example, are enabling people to shape a positive future.

You can discover more about these organisations via the following links. These are followed by three videos that show the kinds of work they do to bring about step change.

https://www.ashoka.org/en

https://unreasonablegroup.com/

http://singularityu.org/

Let’s return to your own life and work. If appropriate, can you think of a way that you would like to develop in the future? You may choose to develop in a stimulating, steady or step change way.

If so, how would you like to develop? What might you do to continue to explore, learn and apply the ideas in your personal or professional life? What might be the benefits – for you or for other people – of taking these steps?

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

Describe the specific things you can do to develop in a stimulating, steady or step change way. 

Describe the benefits of taking these steps and continuing to develop.

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