The Art of Strengths Coaching

S is for Doing The Solid Work And The Spectacular Work On The Way Towards Achieving Success  

Great workers often build on their strengths and follow their chosen strategies. They then do the solid work and, when appropriate, do the spectacular work on the way towards achieving success.

Imagine that you want to follow this path in your own way. Let’s explore how you can take these steps.

Strengths

One approach is to start by clarifying your strengths. These are the specific activities in which you deliver As rather than Bs or Cs.

Looking at these, which are the specific activities in which you love doing the solid work as much as the spectacular work? Which are those in which you enjoy the journey as much as reaching the goal?

If you are a chef, you may love planning the menu, buying the ingredients, preparing the food and serving a great meal. You may even enjoy cleaning up, looking back on what worked well and then planning the next menu.

If you are a mentor, you may love preparing properly, imagining what the mentee may wish to explore and rehearsing the session. You may enjoy making the person feel welcome, focusing on their agenda and passing on knowledge that helps them to reach their goals.

If you are a leader, you may enjoy making strategic decisions, building the team and creating a positive environment. You may enjoy keeping everybody’s eyes on the goal, encouraging people to do superb work and enabling them to achieve the picture of success.

If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. Bearing in mind your strengths, this invites you to do the following things.

Describe a specific activity in which you build on your strengths and enjoy doing the solid work.

Describe the specific kinds of solid work you enjoy doing when doing this activity.

Strategies

Imagine that you want to pursue the specific activity in which you enjoy doing the solid work. You may want to run a mentoring session, deliver a creative project, lead a team or do another activity.

Before leaping into doing the work, it can be useful to clarify your chosen strategies. First, you can clarify the ‘What’ – the real results you want to achieve.  Second, you can clarify the ‘How’ – the specific things you can do to achieve the picture of success.

Let’s look at how this works in practice. Looking at the work I do with mentoring, for example, sometimes a person will present a particular challenge.

After exploring the real results they want to achieve, however, they may define the challenge in a different way. Here are some examples.

Person A originally said: “How can I as a leader turnaround a difficult person in my team?”

They settled on: “The real results I want to achieve are to build a successful team.” 

Person B originally said: “How can I get promotion in my company?”

They settled on: “The real results I want to achieve are to play to my strengths, do satisfying work and also get a good salary.” 

Person C originally said: “How can I produce a book and get it published, even though writing is not something I really enjoy doing?”  

They settled on: “The real results I want to achieve are to pass on my knowledge to lots of people in a way that I enjoy and also helps them to succeed.”

Bearing in mind the activity you want to pursue, it can be useful to ask yourself the following questions.

What are the real results I want to achieve? What will be the benefits of achieving these goals? What is the picture of success? 

What are the key strategies I can follow to give myself the greatest chance of success? How can I translate these into clear action plans?  

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

Describe the specific activity you want to pursue. 

Describe the real results you want to achieve by pursuing this activity – the picture of success.  

Describe the specific strategies you can follow to give yourself the greatest chance of achieving success.

Solid Work

Great workers make sure they do the solid work and deliver high professional standards. This provides the platform for delivering peak performance.

Let’s look at one example. Here is an overview of the steps that good trusted advisors take to help their clients. Each advisor will, of course, follow these steps in their own ways.

Let’s return to your own chosen activity. What is the solid work you need to perform on the way towards achieving success? How can you do your best to do this work?

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

Describe the specific activity you want to pursue.

Describe the specific kinds of solid work you need to do when pursuing your chosen strategies on the way towards achieving success. 

Describe the specific things you can do to perform the solid work on the way towards achieving success.

Spectacular Work

Great workers do the solid work and sometimes produce their equivalent of spectacular work. There are different ways to deliver such work on the way towards achieving success.

An athlete may product a remarkable piece of skill. A mediator may find a breakthrough solution that reconciles warring parties. A designer may invent a product that is simple – in a profound way – satisfying and successful.

Great performers sometimes produce that touch of class to reach their goals. Michael Murphy gives many examples of such moments in the book he wrote with Rhea White called In The Zone: Transcendent experiences in sports.

Michael describes how peak performers sometimes enter another dimension and make time stand still. Giving examples from the arts as well as sports, he quotes Herbert Saal, the ballet reporter, describing this quality in Mikhail Baryshnikov. Herbert wrote:

The most exquisitely chilling weapon in the arsenal of this complete dancer was his ballon, his ability to ascend in the air and stay there, defying gravity, especially in the double tour en l’air, in which the male dancer revolves two full times before landing.

The Stuttgart Ballet’s Richard Cragun can turn three times in a blur of motion. But Baryshnikov did it in slow motion. And it was unbelievable.

He blasted off with the hesitation and majesty of a space ship. He turned – once, twice – and every thread on his costume was plainly visible as he soared high above the audience like an astronaut looking back at earth.

Let’s return to the specific activity that you have chosen to pursue. Imagine that you have done the solid work and delivered high professional standards.

You may have done this when running a mentoring session, teaching a class or solving a technical problem. You may have done it when managing a crisis, leading a team or doing another activity.

How could you perform your equivalent of doing spectacular work? You may find a creative solution to a problem, provide great service for a client or do something extraordinary that delivers success.

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

Describe the specific activity you want to pursue. 

Describe the specific things you can do that could be your equivalent of doing spectacular work on the way towards achieving success. 

Describe the specific things you can do to deliver these equivalents of doing spectacular work on the way towards achieving success.

Success

Imagine that you have done the solid work and, if appropriate, may also have done your equivalent of spectacular work. The final step will be to do your best to achieve your picture of success.

Depending on the task, different people do this in different ways. One approach is to draw on all the unseen work they have done in order to perform on the day. The Success Iceberg is a much used model that explains this approach.

Imagine that you are watching an athlete in action. You will see their performance on the day, but this is often the result of many unseen factors. These include the following.

The Personal Drive

This includes the person’s desire, discipline and ability to overcomes setbacks. They will need to draw on this self-motivation to deal with challenges and keep developing.   

The Practical Support 

This includes the emotional support that the person gets from their family, friends, coaches and others. It also includes the practical support they get in terms of facilities, finances and other factors.  

The Preparation 

This includes the preparation the person does in terms of thinking ahead, planning and creating a platform for success. It also involves clarifying the strategy they want to follow to perform at their best on the day.

The Practice 

This includes the person practicing the way they will perform on the day. Sometimes this involves physical practice, sometimes it involves mental rehearsal. They then move on to the work that others will see.

The Performance On The Day 

This involves the person being fully present, being professional and aiming to deliver peak performance. It involves them doing their best to achieve their picture of success. 

You will have your own approach to doing both the unseen and seen work. You will then be ready to click into action and do superb work.

Let’s return to the specific activity that you have chosen to pursue. Imagine that you are doing the solid work and, when appropriate, adding your equivalent of spectacular work. How can you continue to do your best to achieve success?

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

Describe the specific activity you want to pursue. 

Describe the specific things you can do to continue to do your best to achieve the picture of success.

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