The Art of Strengths Coaching

S is for Studying Success

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There are many ways to pass on knowledge. One approach is to study, share and spread success.

Several mentors suggested this approach when I began working in therapeutic communities. They suggested that I study successful therapy programmes and gave the following advice.

“Study what works. Many people will tell you how things fail, but that doesn’t always help. Whatever topic you explore, study how people succeed in that particular field.

“Study humanity at its best. Clarify the principles that people follow to be healthy, recover from setbacks, lead superb teams, build superb organisations, work well together in society or succeed in other fields.

“Study and share what works. You can then provide practical tools that people can use to follow these principles in their own ways.”

Studying Success

Different people have different definitions of success. Some may see it as being happy, achieving their life goals or feeling at peace. Some may see it as leaving a positive legacy.

Some may see it as making full use of their talents. Some may see it as helping people, teams or organisations to achieve peak performance. Some may see it as passing on their knowledge. Some may see it as helping to build a positive planet.

The mentors’ advice stuck. From the 1960s onwards I met and learned from many great workers in therapy, education, sports psychology, business and other fields. During the visits I asked the following questions.

Who has encouraged you in your life? What did they do to help you to achieve your picture of success? 

What do you believe are the key principles people can follow to achieve their picture of success? 

How can we pass on this knowledge to people and help them to achieve their picture of success?

Many books describe humanity at its best. Most people know about the lessons passed on by writers such Maslow, Rogers, Frankl. Here are just 12 of the other books that I found helpful.

Virginia Satir – Peoplemaking. How to build healthy families that enable people to grow. 

Henry Pluckrose – Open School, Open Society. How to create stimulating schools that help children to learn joyfully and successfully.

Charles Garfield – Peak Performers. How people and teams can achieve peak performance. 

Samuel and Pearl Oliner – Altruistic Personality: Rescuers Of Jews In Nazi Germany. How people showed great humanity to help others in peril.

Paul Hawken – Growing A Business. How to build an ethical and successful business.

Al Siebert – The Survivor Personality. How people harnessed their strengths to recover from setbacks.

Rick Snyder – The Psychology of Hope. How to help people to increase their way power as well as their will power to succeed. 

Peter Benson – Sparks. How to find and nurture the sparks within people.

David Cooperrider and Diana Whitney – Appreciative Inquiry. How to help teams and organisations to discover when they have performed brilliantly and follow these principles to perform superb work in the future. 

Babette Rothschild – Trauma Essentials. How to help people to use their inner resources to overcome trauma.

Richard English – Terrorism: How to respond. How to learn from what we know works to combat terrorism and create safer societies.

Brother David Steindl-Rast – Gratefulness, The Heart of Prayer. How to be grateful, live fully and help other people.

Looking at your own life, how do you study what works? You may work in the field of medicine, education, building, technology, sports or whatever.

How do you learn from good practitioners? How do you identify the principles they follow? How do you then use these ideas in your own way?

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

Describe the specific field of activity in which you are interested in studying success

Describe the specific things you can do to study success in this field.

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Sharing Success

Imagine that you have studied success and want to pass on this knowledge to people. How can you do this in a way that plays to your strengths?

You may choose to encourage people, run seminars, give keynote speeches, produce films, coach sports teams, lead organisations, become a trusted advisor or whatever.

Whichever route you choose, it can be useful to focus on the What, Who, Why, How and When. Let’s explore these themes.

What

What is the knowledge you want to pass on? You may have clarified the successful principles that people follow when counselling, managing crises, helping others to learn, leading teams or whatever.

If you wish, try completing the following exercise. Start by brainstorming the ideas, knowledge, models and practical tools you want to pass on to people. You can then settle on, for example, three things you want to share.

Sometimes it can be useful to write these themes in ‘How to …’ terms. One person who studied resilient people, for example, wrote that the knowledge they wanted to pass on was:

“How to manage setbacks in your own life … How to help other people to manage setbacks … How to use setbacks as a springboard to future success.”

You will have your own way of clarifying what you have learned and want to share. Here is the exercise.

The specific knowledge I have learned from studying
success that I would like to pass on to people is:

*

*

*

Who

Who are the people to whom you would like to pass on this knowledge? They may be educators, entrepreneurs, pioneers, scientists, athletes, sports coaches, leaders, social entrepreneurs, psychotherapists or other people. What are the characteristics of these people?

Looking at my own life, I have been fortunate to work with people who have aimed to be positive, professional and peak performers. Many have also aimed to build pioneering teams in their chosen fields.

Such people are often open to ideas. One soccer coach said, for example:

“I am happy to go to a course and get just one practical tool that helps me to improve my team. If I get that, then the course has been valuable.”

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

The specific kinds of people to whom I
would like to pass on this knowledge are:

*

*

*

Why

Why would you like to share this knowledge? What would be the benefits for people? What are the practical tools they could use in their daily lives and work? How would this knowledge help people to succeed?

Looking at my own life, for example, I was fortunate to get an early diagnosis for prostate cancer. This provided lots of time to research many of the non-invasive treatments available in the UK.

Eventually this led to having an operation called HIFU – High Intensity Focused Ultrasound. The treatment was excellent and had few side effects.

During the journey I created a blog that aimed to reach other men with a similar diagnosis. One contacted me later to say this had helped him to choose the non-invasive route and he had made a full recovery. Hopefully it helped others to decide on their chosen route.

You will have your own reasons for sharing knowledge. If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. Bearing in mind what you want to share, this invites you to complete the following lines.

The specific benefits of passing on
this knowledge to people may be:

*

* 

*

How

How would you like to share the successful principles with people? Different people prefer different methods for passing on knowledge. They may prefer, for example:

To act as a mentor, coach or trusted advisor.

To run workshops, lead projects or keynote speeches.  

To write articles, create websites, write blogs, produce learning materials, make videos, produce television programmes or use other media.

“My preferred method was to become a mentor in our organisation, but it was important to set some ground rules,” said one person.

“First, the individuals must be motivated. I was not going to do remedial work.

“Second, they must do some pre-work and let me know ahead of time about the topics they wanted to explore in the session.

“Third, they should keep a log of what they had learned so that we could evaluate the value of the mentoring.”

Bearing in mind your strengths, what is your preferred way of passing on knowledge? You may prefer one-to-one sessions, small groups, keynote speaking, writing articles, leading by example or whatever.

If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. Bearing in mind what you want to share, this invites you to complete the following lines.

The specific ways that I would like to
pass on the knowledge to people is by:

*

* 

*

When

When do you want to share the knowledge? You may aim to set a date for running a workshop, writing an article, creating a website, giving a keynote speech, acting as a mentor or whatever.

People often respond well to deadlines. One approach that I have used when working with organisations, for example, has been to follow the approach that: ‘The best way to learn is to teach.’

Bearing this in mind, we have set up a series of seminars in which rising leaders in the organisation have been asked to teach the leadership team about the key lessons contained in a certain book.

The participants were given a choice of books. These included Jim Collin’s Good To Great, Robert Greenleaf’s Servant Leadership, Matthew Syed’s Bounce and many others.

They were then given a date on which they would present to the leadership team. They were asked to share their summary of the book, plus:

The specific principles described in the book.

The specific ways that some of these principles could be applied in their own organisation to achieve success.

People rose to the occasion. Many of their suggestions were adopted and used to improve their organisations.

If you wish, try tackling the exercise on the theme of passing on what you have learned. This invites you to do the following things.

Describe the specific field of activity in which you have studied success.

Describe the specific things you can do to share knowledge about success in this field.

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Spreading Success

Many people enjoy sharing knowledge with others they meet in their work. Some also spread this knowledge further by reaching a wider audience. Sometimes this is possible by publishing books, creating websites or using other methods.

The established method for spreading knowledge used to be through rolling out education. This could take the form of providing classes, seminars or workshops.

Many therapeutic approaches, for example, created institutes that provided education and then licensed practitioners. Such an approach had both pluses and minuses.

Some people now spread knowledge by using other media. Sir Ken Robinson’s famous 2006 TED talk on education, for example, has had almost 40 million views. Susan Cain’s talk on The Power of Introverts has over 14 millions hits.

Spreading knowledge about how people succeed can raise awareness. It is also worth bearing in mind, however, that the educational process calls for going through the stages of awareness, application and achievement.

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Those who spread knowledge through books and videos sometimes also have websites that offer practical tools. Some provide these tools for free, others charge for them. People can apply the tools in their own ways to achieve their goals.

Imagine that you have studied and shared success. How can you, if you wish, spread this knowledge in a way that enables people to shape their future lives?

Sometimes you can reach wider audiences and raise people’s awareness. Sometimes it may also be possible, but more difficult, to also help them to go through the stages of application and achievement. How can you do your best to make this happen?

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

Describe the specific field of activity in which you have studied success. 

Describe the specific things you can do to spread knowledge about success in this field.

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