The Art of Strengths Coaching

T is for Seeing Things As Tasks To Be Done rather than Triumphs Or Disasters

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People are emotional beings. They love to follow their passion, for example, and translate this into a clear purpose. They then aim to be professional and work hard to achieve peak performance.

Feelings can be a great driving force, but they need to be channelled successfully. People can sometimes fail to do good work if they feel worried about how a particular project will end.

How to manage this challenge? One approach is to see things as tasks to be done, rather than worry about whether they will end in triumph or disaster.

People obviously want to do good work that achieves a positive outcome. They are more likely to achieve this by focusing on delivering excellence, however, rather than by becoming victims of their emotions.

Sports people, for example, often aim to achieve a high standard. They are more likely to do this by concentrating on doing their best, rather than by fantasizing about winning the prize.

Tennis players at Wimbledon are made aware of this philosophy when entering the courts each day. They walk under an arch that quotes the following lines from Rudyard Kipling’s poem If -:

If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster 
And treat those two impostors just the same
 

Looking back on your own life, when have you focused on the task in hand? Feelings may have provided the stimulation for tackling a challenge. But you then aimed to do a superb job technically, rather than be swept off-course by highs or lows.

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

Describe a specific situation in the past when you saw something as a task to be done – rather than a triumph or disaster – and did it successfully.

Describe the specific things you did to do the task successfully.

Describe the specific things that happened as a result of doing the task successfully.

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“That sounds fine,” somebody may say, “but what happens if you cannot shut off worrying emotions?”

Steve Peters provides one solution in his book The Chimp Paradox. A person’s chimp can take many forms. It can be doubt, irrational emotions and negative scripting.

During the last decade Steve has helped many athletes to manage their inner chimp and achieve excellence. You can discover more via the following website.

http://chimpmanagement.com/

Channelling your Champ,
rather than your Chimp

What happens if you still experience difficult emotions when tackling a challenge? Another approach is focus on your champ – the times when you have produced championship performances – rather than your chimp.

Bearing in mind the task you are performing, it can be useful to ask the following questions.

When have I tackled a similar challenge successfully? What did I do right then? What were the principles I followed to do good work?

How can I follow these principles – plus maybe add other skills – to tackle this challenge successfully? How can I concentrate on the task and perform superb work?

Concentration can
bring its own rewards

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, the author of Flow, described how people feel fully alive when tackling a stimulating challenge. People who enjoy a sense of flow feel that time goes away.

They lose themselves in an activity, but paradoxically find their sense of self emerges stronger. Here are some of his thoughts on flow.

Creative achievements depend on single-minded immersion. It is impossible to enjoy a tennis game, a book or a conversation unless attention is fully concentrated on the activity.

Painters must want to paint above all else. If the artist in front of the canvas begins to wonder how much he will sell it for, or what the critics will think of it, he won’t be able to pursue original avenues.

Anyone who has experienced flow knows that the deep enjoyment it provides requires an equal degree of disciplined concentration. The self expands through acts of self-forgetfulness.

Looking ahead, can you think of situation when it may be useful to see it as a task to be done, rather than get wrapped up in the emotions? You may be taking a tough decision, making a transition, dealing with a potential crisis or whatever.

What can you do to focus on the job in hand, rather than be distracted by concerns about the eventual outcome? What may be the benefits of taking this approach?

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

Describe a specific situation in the future when you may want to see something as a task to be done – rather than a triumph or disaster – and do it successfully.

Describe the specific things you can do to do the task successfully. 

Describe the specific things that may happen as a result of doing the task successfully.

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