The Art of Strengths Coaching

V is for Filling A Vacuum With A Vision

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People like to have a compelling vision. They like to work towards improving their garden, mastering a skill, building a house, painting a picture, pursuing a satisfying mission or striving to achieve a meaningful goal in society.

People find that such an aim can provide a sense of purpose. Sometimes they want to create their own version of paradise. Christopher Alexander, author of The Timeless Way of Building, wrote:

Each one of us has, somewhere in our heart, the dream to make a living world, a universe.

People don’t like to a vacuum. They find it difficult to drift aimlessly in their daily lives. They don’t like to do meaningless work in an organisation that doesn’t have a compelling goal.

Caring leaders recognise the opportunities and dangers present in a vacuum. They recognise it is important to fill the vacuum with hope and a positive version. Why? Cruel leaders may fill it with hate and a negative vision.

Over the years I have seen many leaders create inspiring cultures. They have done this in schools, therapy programmes, sports teams, pioneering businesses and organisations.

They focused on certain values and translated these into a clear vision. They gave people the chance to reflect and decide if they wanted to opt in. Building on those who chose to contribute, the leaders enabled people to achieve visible results.

Looking back on your life, has there ever been a time when you filled a vacuum with a positive vision? You may have done this for yourself or done it for a team or organisation.

What did you do to fill the vacuum? You may have focused on pursuing your values, doing things you enjoyed, developing a skill, helping other people, tackling a particular project or communicating a compelling vision to a team.

What did you do to translate the aims into action? You may have compiled a ‘To Do’ list, set daily goals and crossed off each item on the way. How did you encourage yourself on the journey? What did it feel like when you achieved the vision?

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 filled a vacuum with a positive vision.

Describe the specific things you did fill the vacuum with a vision.

Describe the specific things that you and, if appropriate, other people did to translate the aims into action.

Describe the specific benefits of achieving the vision.

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There are many ways to help people, teams and organisations to achieve success. Sometimes this involves helping them to find ways to fill a vacuum with a vision.

Here are some of the themes I have explored with people who aimed to take this step. You will, of course, have your own approach.

Values and Vitality

Sometimes we focus on people’s values – the things they believe in. Sometimes we focus on vitality – the things they enjoy doing.

Building on the themes that emerge, we look at how they can translate these into a clear vision. People then make an action plan and work towards achieving visible results.

When working with individuals, it can be
useful to ask some of the following questions.

What are your values? What do you believe are the important things in life? What are your life goals? What is your picture of success?

What gives you vitality? What are the things that give you positive energy? What have been the most satisfying projects you have done in your life? What made these satisfying?

When working with organisations, it can be
useful to ask some of the following questions.

What are the values you want to follow in the organisation? What are the actual words you would like to hear people saying about the organisation? What do you want to be the organisation’s legacy?

When have people in the organisation performed brilliantly? What did they do right then? How can they follow those values in the future?

Where is the vitality in the organisation? Where is the positive energy? Who are the positive people and teams? How can you build on these people?

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Vision

When working with individuals, it can be
useful to ask some of the following questions.

Looking at your values, are there any you would like to translate into action? How can you do this in your personal or professional life?

Looking at the things that give you vitality, how can you do more of these things? How can you pursue the activities that give you positive energy? How can you do satisfying projects?

Looking at themes we have covered, are there any that you would like to pursue? If so, how can you translate these into a clear vision? What are the real results you want to achieve? What is the picture of success?

When working with organisations, it can be
useful to ask some of the following questions.

Looking at your values, are there any you would like to translate into action? How can encourage people live these in their daily work? What would be the benefits?

Looking at the places in the organisation where there is vitality, how can you support these people and teams? How can you encourage them to build on their strengths and do superb work?

Looking at the themes that have emerged, how can you translate these into a clear vision? What are the real results you want people to achieve? What is the picture of success?

What would be the benefits of achieving this goal? How can you build on the pluses and manage any minuses that might be involved in the journey? How can you enable people to achieve success?

Visible Results

When working with individuals, it can be
useful to ask some of the following questions.

Looking at your vision, how can you translate this into a specific action plan? What are the key strategies you can follow to give yourself the greatest chance of success? How can you get the required support?

How can you do superb work? How can you keep doing the right things in the right way every day? How can you anticipate and manage potential difficulties? How can you find solutions to challenges?

How can you get some quick successes? How can you encourage yourself on the journey? How can you do whatever is necessary to achieve the vision?

When working with organisations, it can be
useful to ask some of the following questions.

Looking at your vision, how can you encourage people to make specific action plans? How can you ensure they make clear contracts about everybody’s part in achieving the goals? How can you provide them with the required support?

How can you enable people to perform superb work? How can you ensure they keep others informed about their progress towards achieving the goal? How can you encourage people to share success stories?

How can you help people to find solutions to challenges? How can you encourage people: a) To keep building on what they do well; b) To keep improving in other areas? How can you help people to do whatever is necessary to achieve the vision?

Looking at your own life and work, can you think of a situation in the future when you may want to fill a vacuum with a vision? This may apply to you or it may also involve other people in a team or organisation.

As mentioned early, people like to have a sense of purpose. They like to have a plan. They can then do their best to fill the vacuum and work towards achieving the picture of success.

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 fill a vacuum with a positive vision.

Describe the specific things you can do to fill the vacuum with a vision.

Describe the specific things that you and, if appropriate, other people can do to translate the aims into action.

Describe the specific benefits of achieving the vision.

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