The Art of Strengths Coaching

W is for People Having The Will Power And Way Power To Do Wonderful Work  

There are many models for doing fine work. One approach is for people to demonstrate both the will power and the way power required to do wonderful work.

This approach stems from the work done by Ricky Snyder, who wrote The Psychology of Hope. A key message of the book is the following.

People feel more able to shape their futures when they score highly on both will power and way power.

Imagine that a person is tackling a difficult challenge. They will have a strong sense of hope if:

They score 8+/10 in terms of their will to solve the challenge.  

They score 8+/10 in terms of seeing a way to solve the challenge.

The person will then feel confident about how they can achieve their picture of success. This is because they score highly on both will power and way power.

This model also explains why a normally positive person can be confused if they feel depressed when facing a particular challenge. They have a strong will to solve the issue, but as yet they cannot see a way to find a solution.

Once the person sees a way through the problem, however, the cloud evaporates. Their hope returns and they feel reinvigorated to tackle the challenge. You can read more about Rick Snyder’s work on hope via the following link.

Ricky Snyder Hope

Looking back at your life, can you think of a time when you combined these elements to do fine work? This could have been in your personal or professional life.

You may have developed a strong will to get a job, run a marathon, complete a project or do another activity. Your determination may then have helped you to do the grunt work, overcome challenges and keep going until the finish.

You may have also expanded your repertoire of options for tackling the project. You may have taken this step through trial and error, studying best practice, finding creative solutions or using other methods. This would have increased your way power.

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 did your best to demonstrate the will power and way power required to do wonderful work.

Describe the specific things you did to take these steps.

Describe the specific things that happened as a result.

Developing Will Power

There are many views about will power. Some people argue that individuals are born with it, others say that people can choose to develop it. Here are some of the views.

Some individuals are
born with strong will power

This is a genetic trait. They then demonstrate this will power throughout their lives. They are focused, disciplined and good at finishing. 

Some individuals choose to
develop strong will power

They choose to do whatever is required to reach a specific goal. They take this step because they want to enjoy the benefits. They may want to enjoy more pleasure, have less pain or achieve a specific prize.

Some individuals choose to behave in different ways after a potentially life changing experience. They then demonstrate the will power required to change their life style or other aspects of their life.

Some individuals have strong will
power in some areas but not in others

They may demonstrate grit when doing the activities they enjoy but not in other areas of their life. Sometimes this can lead to person being labelled as not having determination, but this is not always the case.

A young person may show will power when spending hours rebuilding their bike, for example, but not when doing algebra. They are persistent when doing the things they feel passionately about but not when doing other activities.

Some individuals develop will power
by learning from their positive history

Everybody has a positive history. Everybody has successful patterns they have followed to tackle challenges and achieve success. Bearing this in mind, an individual may ask the following questions.

Looking back on my life, when have I demonstrated will power in the past? What did I do right then? What were the principles I followed? How can I follow these principles in the future? How can I translate these into action and achieve my picture of success?

Some people say: “A person must develop
the will before they can learn a skill.”

Good coaches, for example, often start by creating an encouraging environment in which a person feels at ease. They then clarify what the person wants to explore and their specific goals.

Looking at the first goal, they help the person: a) To clarify the picture of success; b) To clarify the potential strategies for going forwards; c) To clarify the pluses and minuses involved in working towards achieving the aims.

They then check the person’s level of motivation. Is the person prepared to put in the effort required to achieve the picture of success? They make sure the motivation level is at least 8+/10.

Good coaches check that the person really has the will to learn something. They then pass on knowledge in ways that help the person to achieve success.  

Some people combine elements of all these approaches when demonstrating will power. Sue Carter is such a person. In 1970 she came to the therapeutic community I was running for young people.

Abandoned by her mother at the age of 2, she had grown up suffering abuse in institutions. The community gave young people the chance to shape their futures.

Sue recognised she was at a crossroads and began pursuing her chosen route. Putting her troubles behind her, she aimed to do one thing in life – to be a good parent.

In 2005, out of the blue, she emailed me to describe her journey over the past three decades. Sue was always feisty, which shines through her story My Aim To Be A Good Parent.

Visited later in life by the Essex police who were investigating events at the children’s homes, the police asked if she was a victim of abuse. Sue declared: “No, I am a survivor of abuse.” Here is her story.

Many teams demonstrate will power. People may be working together to save lives, fight for justice, put on a musical performance, combine their talents in sports or pursue another activity.

Colin Robertson highlights some of these characteristics in an article on his website. He describes Charles Garfield’s experience on his first day working with NASA. Charles later went on to write his pioneering book Peak Performers.

Here is an excerpt from Colin’s blog. You can discover more via the following link.

Charles Garfield looked around the room at his new job. There was a certain buzz in the air that wasn’t there before.

His new team was achieving great results on a regular basis. People were visibly happy in their work, and everyone was working cohesively towards a greater good. 

He asked his supervisor“What is going on around here lately?”

The supervisor took the young mathematics graduate and pointed to the moon. 

“Look at that. People have been dreaming of going there for thousands of years. And we’re going to do it. You want to know why we’re doing so well? You want to know my secret? 

I’ve got a mission, something that matters to me, something that matters to all of us. We finally have something we can sink our teeth into and be proud of.” 

That mission was Apollo 11. The team of scientists was working toward one of mankind’s greatest feats – putting a man on the moon.  

This mission ignited the team to produce great results, and as we all know, the team was successful in 1969. 

After witnessing what can be accomplished when a mission ignites people, Garfield set about his own mission – to discover what separates those peak performers from everyone else.

Colin goes on to describe the characteristics that Charles Garfield found in peak performing teams. These include people choosing to pursue a motivating mission, being self-managing, doing course correction and delivering the goods. Colin concludes his article with the following piece.

The striking thing about Garfield’s findings on peak performers is just how normal they are. He did not find that peak performers had out-of-this-world IQs or talent.  

Instead the common theme was that they had a powerful, motivating mission and were willing to take action and refine their plans to deal with obstacles.

There is not much separating us from peak performers; only a purpose to be achieved, a willingness to act and an ability to adapt to setbacks. 

So the first thing to ask yourself is, what is your mission?

Great teams create a positive environment in which motivated people can achieve peak performance. They encourage people to build on their strengths and do superb work. They also gain strength by continually focusing on the team’s purpose, principles and picture of success.

Developing Way Power 

People can develop their way power by increasing the number of options they have for reaching a goal. As the old saying goes:

If Plan A does not work, remember the alphabet has 25 more letters.

Different people expand their repertoire in different ways. The more options they have, the more choices they have for going forwards. This increases their ability to achieve success. Here are some of the ways that people take this step.

People who increase their way power may also find they gain strength from seeing the options for going forwards. We are often told that:

Where there’s a will, there’s a way.

If a person sees a way forward, however, they are more likely to develop the will to make it happen. The phrase can be turned around to say:

Where there’s a way, there’s more likely to be a will.

This is one reason why many people become educators. They may work as teachers, mentors, coaches, trusted advisors or pass on knowledge in other ways.

They believe that education – in its broadest sense – is the ultimate democratic activity. It offers people more choices and therefore more freedom to make informed decisions.

Such professionals do work that aims to increase people’s way power. This, in turn, can help people to increase their will power. People are then more able to shape their future lives.

Let’s return to your own life and work. Looking ahead, can you think of a situation in which you may want to demonstrate will power and way power to do wonderful work.

This could be in your personal or professional life. You may want to write an article, renovate a house, nurture a garden, tackle a specific challenge or do a particular project.

What can you do to make sure you have enough will power? Looking at the particular activity, how would you rate your motivation to do it on a scale 0-10? Make sure it is at least 8+/10. What can you do to maintain or increase the rating?

What can you do to increase your way power? What are the key strategies you can follow to give yourself the greatest chance of success? What are the potential challenges you may face? How can you anticipate and find solutions to these challenges?

What can you do to encourage yourself on the journey? How can you get some quick successes? How can you build in time for rest, recovery and reflection? How can you then do your best to achieve your 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 do your best to demonstrate the will power and way power required to do wonderful work. 

Describe the specific things you can do to take these steps.

Describe the specific things that may happen as a result.


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