The Art of Strengths Coaching

P is for The Positive, Percentage and Paralysis Approaches

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People who do fine work often take a positive approach. They aim to make things happen, rather than wait for things to happen.

This highlights a concept from sports psychology that can be applied to many areas of life. If you are a soccer manager, for example, you can play a match using the positive, percentage or paralysis approach.

Great managers often ensure their teams get on the front foot and take the positive approach, though sometimes it is important to play the percentages.

Falling into the paralysis approach, such as looking at the clock when the team is leading, is a recipe for disaster.

Let’s explore how these themes can apply to other areas of life.

The Positive Approach

When have you taken the positive approach? You may have recovered from an illness, set up a business, adopted this attitude when playing a sport or whatever.

People often do their best work when they are proactive, take initiatives and aim to shape the future. Being positive must be coupled with being professional, of course, rather than being reckless.

Looking at your own life, can you think of a time when you have adopted such an approach? One person explained their way of tackling a setback.

“I adopted this approach when facing an illness. This called for more than positive thinking.

“It meant scouring the web for information, exploring the potential treatments and researching the success rates.

“The next step was to find the best surgeons, negotiate the health service and get appointments.

“It was also important to see things in perspective. So I kept doing things I enjoyed, whilst also continuing to follow my life purpose. I did not want to be defined by the illness.

“The treatment was successful and the journey involved taught me a lot. It reminded me about what is important in life.”

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

Describe a specific situation when you chose to follow the positive approach.

Describe the specific things you did to follow this approach.

Describe the specific outcomes of following this approach.

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The Percentage Approach

Playing safe is absolutely the right approach in some situations. It is particularly appropriate when managing your money, climbing a mountain or taking care of your health.

Sometimes it is a way of getting back to basics.

A golfer does this after hitting a bad shot. They aim to re-establish their rhythm and create a good foundation for the rest of the round.

A dieting person may choose to follow a sustainable diet. This is more reliable than going on crash diets that also lead to wild swings in their weight.

Soccer players who are closing in on victory may aim to keep winning the ball and moving to give teammates passing options. This is more likely to be successful than remaining static and hoping to withstand pressure.

Playing the percentage game may only enable you to reach 7/10. But it provides the platform for going on to be more positive and reaching 10/10.

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

Describe a specific situation when you chose to follow the percentage approach.

Describe the specific things you did to follow this approach.

Describe the specific outcomes of following this approach.

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The Paralysis Approach

People sit back and wait for things to happen. Some people do this most of their lives. They wait for outside forces to shape their destiny.

Such people choose to feel that, on a scale 0 – 10, they may only have a 3/10 chance of shaping their future. This creates negative energy and they can fall into a negative circle.

One sports psychologist explained this in the following way.

“Players who lose confidence often experience paralysis.

“Instead of using their strengths, they go into their shell and worry about making mistakes.

“The player may have got into a negative spiral in both their work and home life. This means that everything seems out of control.

“My first job is to establish whether the player wants to take responsibility for shaping their future. We spend a long time on that, because sports players often look for excuses.

“After a while we move to how they can control the controllables in their life and work.

“I invite them: a) To describe the specific things they can do to take a positive approach in their life and work; b) To describe the specific benefits of doing these things.

“The physical effects of this exercise soon show on players. They seem to walk taller, look you in the eye and volunteer for tasks.

“They begin to take more responsibility, both on and off the field.”

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

Describe a specific situation when you chose to move beyond the paralysis approach and make things happen.

Describe the specific things you did to make things happen.

Describe the specific outcomes of making things happen.

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The Positive Approach
In The Future

Looking ahead, can you think of a situation where you may want to adopt the positive approach? Here are some answers that people gave to this question.

I may want to take a
positive approach towards:

Setting a deadline for starting my own business and getting my first three customers.

Planning my diary months ahead and fixing times to be with my loved ones as the top priority.

Taking care of my health, enjoying life and doing something every day to encourage other people.

Doing something to get moving – both physically and psychologically – helps to get the juices going. This creates the springboard for achieving positive results.

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

Describe a specific situation when you may want to take the positive approach.

Describe the specific things you can do to take the positive approach in this situation.

Describe the specific benefits of taking such a positive approach.

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