The Rising To The Occasion Approach

There are many models for doing fine work. One approach is to clarify the real results you want to achieve in a situation. It is then to go through the stages of rehearsal, following your rhythm and rising to the occasion.

Imagine that you want to follow these steps in your own way. The first step is to choose the specific situation where you want to rise to the occasion.

You may want to do this when encouraging a person, playing a sport or running a mentoring session. You may want to do it when managing a crisis, leading a team, doing a creative project, performing a medical operation or doing another activity.

If possible, focus on an activity in which you feel in your element – at ease and yet able to excel. It can be useful to focus on one that you find stimulating and where you have a good chance of achieving success.

Imagine that you have chosen to focus on a specific situation in which you want to rise to the occasion. You can then focus on the following theme.


You can clarify the real results you want to achieve in the situation. It is vital to focus, however, on what you can control in the situation rather than what you can’t control. You can then translate what you can control into a clear picture of success.

A great athlete, for example, recognises that they can control their attitude, preparation and performance. They can’t control the weather, the other competitors or poor judgements by officials. The real result they aim to achieve is to do their best on the day.

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

Describe a specific situation in which you want to rise to the occasion.

Describe the specific results you want to achieve – bearing in mind what you can control – in the situation.

Describe the specific benefits – both for other people and yourself – of achieving those results in the situation.


Great workers rehearse everything before tackling a challenge. Sometimes they do the physical rehearsal, sometimes they do mental rehearsal. Sometimes they do both.

Charles Garfield, the author of Peak Performers, described how many great workers rehearse before going into their version of the arena. The National Business Association produced a summary of his views on mental rehearsal in one of their newsletters. Here is an excerpt from that piece.

Peak performers practice mental rehearsal. They rehearse, in their mind’s eye, any incident or event that is important to them.

Business executives can benefit by rehearsing specific events in the mind’s eye, including all those possible outcomes and possible surprises that can materialise. This mental practice can build familiarity and boost confidence and self-esteem.

There are many models for mental rehearsal. Here is a summary of one approach.

Imagine that you have rehearsed following your key strategies. It will then be time to move into action. Some people then focus on the following step.


Great workers often follow their chosen rhythm when working towards the desired results. One person explained this in the following way.

“Preparation is crucial. I then have a ritual for clicking into action and hitting the ground running.  

“My best performances have come from being able to get into my rhythm. I have then been able to deliver the required results.  

“Sometimes I have been distracted but, after some effort, I have been able to recover. On other occasions, however, it has been difficult to get back into my rhythm and the results have suffered.”

Different people follow different rhythms for doing fine work. Sometimes it can take years, however, before people find and follow their best rhythm.

If you are a creative artist, for example, you may have a certain ritual for clicking into action. You may work for a set time and then take break. You may go for a walk or do something else before returning to the work.

Several business leaders I work with have established a different kind of rhythm. One leader for the European arm of a global business explained this in the following way.

“I prefer my lifestyle now, compared with when I headed the UK business. My working work has the following pattern.

“On Monday I take the children to school and then take a lunchtime flight to one of the major capitals. Monday night is spent having dinner with colleagues or clients.

“Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday are devoted to clients visits.

“Sometimes this involves another flight on, for example, Wednesday night. The work is intensive, but it is also rewarding. I am able to play to my strengths, which is working directly with clients.  

“Normally I fly back on Thursday evening and take the children to school on Friday. The rest of the day is spent working from home and finalising plans for the next week. 

“This sounds tough, but it was harder when I ran the UK business, which meant travelling into London every day. My diary was full from the moment I entered the building.

“There were always crises to solve and meetings to attend. Sometimes I was lucky to get home before 8.00 pm at night.  

“The lifestyle I have now is excellent. Sometimes I need to spend a week in the USA, but that is fine.

“I have also built a good leadership team who run the daily business. They release me to do what I do best, which is to work with customers and shape tomorrow’s business.”

You will have your own approach to finding and following your chosen rhythm. Bearing this in mind, it will also be important:

To anticipate any potential events that may interrupt your rhythm;

To develop your own strategies for finding ways to manage these situations;

To then, when appropriate, regain your rhythm and work towards achieving the desired results.

Imagine that you are working towards your goals. Sometimes you may also aim to take the following steps.

Rising To The Occasion

Great workers often rise to the occasion when tackling a challenge or doing something special to reach their goals. Some keep doing the basics and then add the brilliance. Some also add that touch of class.

Some people relax and rehearse what they are going to do next. They then aim to flow, focus and finish. Sometimes this leads to a sense of fulfilment.  

One singer I worked with took this approach when performing at a concert. She described this in the following way.

“I had rehearsed in my room and in my mind for many weeks. Then came the day of the performance. 

“Getting to the theatre, I went through my usual rituals for centering, which included deep breathing.

“Moving from the dressing room, I snapped into action and strode onto the stage. Forgetting myself, I sank deeply into the music and aimed to serve the song.

“Before I knew it, the song was over and the audience gave rapturous applause. I am not exactly sure what happened, but people said it was the best performance I had ever given.”

Looking ahead, can you think of a specific situation where you may want to rise to the occasion? What are the results you want to achieve in the situation?

How can you set aside time to rehearse properly? How can you move into action and follow your chosen rhythm? How can you manage any events that could throw you off-course?

How can you continue to do superb work? How can you, if appropriate, rise to the occasion? How can you do your best to achieve the desired results?

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

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