The Strengths Blog

 


March 2nd, 2015

M is for Maintaining Momentum

1236395_26233420

Peak performers build and maintain momentum on the way to doing fine work. They may call this being on a roll, being in the groove or getting their mojo working.

Great organisations aim create positive momentum rather than negative momentum. Both are contagious. They therefore aim to build on the positive people, develop positive habits and get positive results.

Looking at your own life and work, when have you been able to build and maintain momentum? You may have been writing a book, training for a marathon, recovering from an illness, leading a team on a particular project or whatever. What did you do right to make this happen?

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 were able to build and maintain momentum on the road to doing good work.

Describe the specific things you did then to build and maintain momentum.

Slides Momentum.001

Slides Momentum.002

Imagine you want to achieve certain results. You may want to renovate a house, lead a successful team, deliver a particular project or whatever. It can be useful to clarify, build and maintain the desired momentum.

Clarifying the
desired momentum

How to clarify the desired momentum? One approach is to start by answering the following questions.

What is the picture of success?

What are the key strategies I can follow to achieve the picture of success?

What are the specific steps I can take to build and maintain the desired momentum to follow these strategies towards achieving the picture of success?

Looking at my own work, for example, these were steps I took when acting as the youth development officer for a soccer club. The young players were encouraged to do their best:

To be positive.

To play positive football.

To get positive results.

These strategies were broken down into specific actions the team could take to achieve these aims. People got into the habit of following certain routines and rhythms that helped them to do fine work.

Mason Currey describes how some creative people take a similar approach in his book Daily Rituals: How Artists Work. You can discover more via the following link.

http://www.masoncurrey.com/

1418236514466

Building the
desired momentum

Imagine you know the kind of momentum you want to build. How can you get started? One approach is to begin by developing good habits. It can be useful to consider the following ideas.

Set things up to give yourself
the greatest chance of success

This calls for good planning. If a person wants to start running, for example, they may need to begin during the times when:

They have lots of energy.

They have the chance to do it properly.

The would-be runner may need to start at weekends and then slowly build up to running at other times during the week.

Peak performers often capitalise on their prime times. These are the times of the day when they have most energy. It is vital to make good use of these times.

They also create time to prepare properly and to relax, rehearse and refocus. They then go into the arena, are fully present and give their best to achieve the desired results.

Slides Momentum.004

Start by getting
some quick successes

If a person wants to start running, they need to get some early wins. They may want to begin by going out on a Saturday morning, for example, when they have some energy.

They can walk briskly for 200 yards, break into a jog for 400 yards, walk 200 yards, break into a jog and so on. They can build up slowly and get a sense of success. This makes more sense then doing no training and then embarking on marathon.

Looking back at the soccer coaching, the team I led developed a similar pattern. The aim was:

To clarify the strategies most likely to deliver success.

To practice the strategies on the training field and ensure we knew how to deliver these successfully.

To implement the strategies successfully in training matches against – in ascending order – weaker teams, average teams and then top teams.

Sometimes we encountered setbacks. Bearing in mind the strategies we believed in, we returned to practicing these successfully. The team aimed to do the basics and then, when appropriate, add the brilliance.

Maintaining The
Desired Momentum

Great workers are like people who are serious about staying healthy. They build habits that lead to sustainable – rather than unsustainable – success.

Such workers often have elements of OCD – Obsessive Compulsive Discipline, rather than Disorder. They aim to do the right things in the right way every day to get the right results.

They are also good at re-centering. When good teams find that things go off-track, for example, people take time to reflect on:

The specific things we are doing well and how we can do more of these things in the future.

The specific things we can do better and how.

People then move to get some quick successes. They repeat the process of building and maintaining the momentum.

You will, of course, have your own way of making this happen. 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 build and maintain the momentum.

Describe the specific things you can do then to build and maintain momentum.

Describe the specific benefits – for yourself and other people – of being able to build and maintain momentum in that situation.

Slides Momentum.005

Slides Momentum.006

Slides Momentum.007

March 2nd, 2015

A is for Aliveness, Alertness and Achievement

Slides Alive and Alert.001

Peak performers often feel alive and alert in situations in which they excel. They use their antennae to clarify what is happening and see patterns.

Clarifying the real results to achieve, they may take time to reflect on the best way forwards. They then implement their chosen strategy and do what is required to achieve success.

Where does this happen for you? Which are the specific activities in which you feel alive and alert? Which are those in which you can achieve As, rather than Bs or Cs?

You may demonstrate this ability when encouraging people, developing software, working with animals, designing houses, tackling certain kinds of problems or whatever.

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

Describe a specific activity in which you feel alive, alert and have the ability to achieve As.

Describe the specific examples of when you have done good work in this activity in the past or the reasons why you believe you have the ability to do good work in this activity in the future.

Slides Alive and Alert.002

Slides Alive and Alert.003

Fiona Hunter is somebody who has helped many people to feel alive through the media of dance. She started Felines Dance in 1980 when aged fifteen. Living in Scotland at the time, she took Felines with her when moving to New Zealand in 1999.

Fiona originally created the dance group for girls who had been rejected from a school performance selection. She was one of those rejected as not “good enough”. Since that time an estimated 2000 girls have become part of the ‘Feline family’. You can learn more about the Felines story via the following link.

http://www.thepositiveapproach.global/felines-gift-love-strengths-style/

Feline Dance has always been about complete inclusiveness, positive attitude and everyone being welcome. The approach is to encourage the girls:

To identify and build on their strengths.

To develop positive self-regard

To care for each other while building as a team.

To develop leadership qualities.

To celebrate each girl’s abilities and play to each of their individual strengths.

To develop an understanding around connection.

Targeted specific and personal encouragement is the basis of how Felines operates, and feedback is always strengths-based, individual and specific. This ensures that girls are always respectful of others and themselves, both verbally and physically.

Almost 35 years after starting Felines, Fiona chose to ‘gift’ Felines to future generations. She only asked that whoever took it over continued to support CanTeen. This is a charity that supports young people and their families living with cancer.

Untitled

Feline senior girls, including teachers (Front row left two: Fiona Hunter, Feline Dance, Libby Calder of Pump Dance). Of this group, 10 have gone through 2-years of Feline leadership and mentor training.

Who might take over Felines? In 2004, Fiona got to know a young teacher, Libby Calder. She had founded her own dance company, Pump Dance, and was keen to further her teaching experience.

Fiona invited her to teach Feline classes and she became Feline’s first teacher after Fiona. Libby taught with Felines for around 18 months. She then left to build her own dance company, which was always her drive and passion. Pump has since won international awards.

Fiona started discussions with Libby in 2013 and agreed a way forward. Felines would become Pump Dance in mid-2014 and Libby would continue to support CanTeen.

Felines has been a huge part of Fiona’s life. It has been vitally important to the hundreds of young girls who will remain part of the Feline family.

As the tagline for Felines says: Felines, so much more than dance! You can discover more via the following links.

www.feline-dance.com

www.pumpdance.com

At the end of every class, the Felines finish with a loud affirmation, with a question and a powerful response from all the girls in the class.

What are we? BEAUTIFUL!

Felines 2

Fiona followed her path to doing things in which she felt alive and could perform fine work. You will, of course, follow your own route to making this happen.

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

Describe a specific activity in which you feel alive, alert and have the ability to achieve As.

Describe the specific things you can do to deliver good work in this activity in the future.

Describe the specific benefits – both for yourself and other people – of delivering such good work.

Slides Alive and Alert.004

Slides Alive and Alert.005

Slides Alive and Alert.006

February 28th, 2015

W is for Wonderful Work rather than Worrying

Slides Wonderful Work or Worrying.001

People can choose their addictions. Some are addicted to doing wonderful work. Some are addicted to worrying. Some people worry, but they overcome it by aiming to do wonderful work.

Emotions are the material of life. A person may feel happy, sad, elated, disappointed, peaceful or angry. People can choose how they use these emotions. The choice they make has consequences, both for themselves and other people

A person can choose to use their worry, for example, to dwell on problems or to build a better world for other people. The path they choose may then become a habit for how they deal with certain emotions.

Looking back, can you recall a time when you chose to do your best to try to do wonderful work? You may have done this because you wanted to or because it was a way of overcoming worry.

Different people do such work in different ways. Some channel their feelings into writing articles, encouraging people, nurturing gardens, passing on knowledge or whatever. They try to use their feelings to create something enriching.

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 chose to do your best to do wonderful work. This could have been because you simply wanted to do it or because you wanted to overcome worrying.

Describe the specific things you did then to try to do wonderful work.

Describe the specific benefits – both for yourself and maybe for other people – of you aiming to do the wonderful work.

Slides Wonderful Work or Worrying.002

Slides Wonderful Work or Worrying.003

Slides Wonderful Work or Worrying.004

People can develop addictive patterns. These can be physical, psychological or both.

They can become addicted to exercising, encouraging other people, worrying or whatever. These may produce positive consequences, negative consequences or both.

During my early career I worked in programmes for recovering addicts. People who wanted to become healthy sometimes chose to follow a positive addiction rather than a negative addiction.

The first step was for them to commit to adopting a different lifestyle. This called for being prepared to accept both the pluses and minuses involved in the journey. They then needed:

To pursue a positive purpose – such as having a reason to live.

To follow positive patterns.

To get some quick successes that acted as positive reinforcement.

People who do positive work sometimes take a similar path. Some report having a Road To Damascus moment. They then choose to focus on what they can control, rather than become paralysed by worrying about what they can’t control.

The environmentalist creates a sanctuary for wildlife. The educationalist inspires students to shape their future lives. The journalist writes stories about the positive things in the world.

Dave is a soccer coach who did a 180 degree turn regarding his approach to coaching. He said:

“I used to spend 100% of my time worrying about results. This affected the way I behaved towards players, staff and my family.

“Ten years ago I read a book about Bill Walsh, the legendary American Football coach. It was called The Score Takes Care Of Itself. I adopted his approach.

“My role is to clarify the right strategy and get the right players. It is then to educate the team to deliver the required standards of performance.

“Sport is a results business, but now I focus on ensuring the team produces positive performances. Providing they do this, then 8 times out of 10 the score takes of itself. The team delivers the required results.

“This approach has worked. I feel more at ease and, apparently, I am easier to live with. People say I am more upbeat, rather than spreading anxiety all the time.”

Looking ahead, can you think of a situation when you may want to do wonderful work rather than succumb to worry? You may wish to do this in your personal or professional life.

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 choose to do your best to do wonderful work.

Describe the specific things you can do then to try to do wonderful work.

Describe the specific benefits – both for yourself and maybe for other people – of you aiming to do the wonderful work.

Slides Wonderful Work or Worrying.005

Slides Wonderful Work or Worrying.006

Slides Wonderful Work or Worrying.007

February 23rd, 2015

P is for Positive Experiences

Slides Positive Experiences.001

Everybody has their own way of helping people to have positive experiences. They may do this by encouraging people in their daily actions.

They may also aim to create encouraging environments that enable others to shape fulfilling lives. They may aim, for example:

To provide children with a happy childhood.

To help students to build on their strengths and learn skills for shaping their futures.

To help people to do satisfying work.

To help people to learn how to overcome setbacks and challenges.

To build cultures in which people can achieve peak performances.

Positive experiences provide people with memories for life. They love being encouraged, feeling alive or enjoying a stimulating event.

At the other end of the scale, people sometimes gain from learning how to deal with painful setbacks. They feel more able to shape their future lives.

Looking back on your own life, who has helped you to have a positive experience? They may have encouraged you in your daily life, created an inspiring event, enabled you to apply lessons from overcoming a challenge or whatever.

If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites you to look back on your life and do the following things.

Describe a specific example in the past when people – a person or a group – helped you to have a positive experience.

Describe the specific things the people did then – the principles they followed – to help you to have a positive experience.

Describe the specific benefits you gained from the positive experience.

Slides Positive Experiences.002

Slides Positive Experiences.003

Slides Positive Experiences.004

People sometimes dedicate their lives to, as far as possible, providing others with positive experiences. Sometimes the emphasis is on joy and encouragement. Sometimes it is on enabling people to recover from difficulties.

Henry Pluckrose, for example, was a pioneering educator who helped children to learn how to learn. Some went on to become educators themselves and pass on knowledge to future generations. Here is an introduction to his work.

http://www.thepositiveapproach.global/henry-pluckroses-approach-to-doing-positive-work/

Penny Brohn helped many cancer patients to take more charge of their treatment and focus on their quality of life. Her remarkable work in Bristol is continued at Penny Brohn Cancer Care. As the website says:

We can show you how to live well with cancer and take back control of your health and wellbeing – before, during and after treatment.

http://www.pennybrohncancercare.org/

Penny Brohn picture

Peter Benson encouraged young people by helping them to find their Sparks. You can discover more about his work, which is continued by the Search Institute, at the link below. He wrote:

People want to be known for their sparks.

A spark is something that gives your life meaning and purpose. It’s an interest, a passion, or a gift.

When you see these sparks in them, then affirm them. You shall know them by their sparks.

http://www.thepositiveapproach.global/s-supporting-peoples-sparks/

You will, of course, have your own way of helping to provide people with positive experiences. If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites you look ahead and do the following things.

Describe a specific example in the future when you may want to help people – a person or a group – to have a positive experience.

Describe the specific things you can do then to help the person or the group to have a positive experience.

Describe the specific benefits the person or group may gain from the positive experience.

Slides Positive Experiences.005

Slides Positive Experiences.006

Slides Positive Experiences.007

February 22nd, 2015

C is for Making A Clear Contract With Your Team

slides clear contracts with your team.001

Imagine you are a team leader. One of your first jobs will be to make a clear working contract with the team.

People must be clear on the responsibilities of both the leader and the team members. The contract should cover both the psychological and practical responsibilities of working together.

Here is one approach to making an overall working contract. You can, of course, also make clear contracts about other aspects of working in the team.

Gather people together and invite them to focus on the following themes.

Clarify the leader’s
responsibilities in the team

Prepare a Flip Chart with two columns headed The Leader’s Responsibilities and The Team Members’ Responsibilities.

Give each person a set of Post-it Notes and invite them to describe what they see as the leader’s role in ensuring the team reaches its goals. Each person is to write one idea per Post-it, but they can write as many ideas as they wish.

There are many approaches to leadership. People may consider, however, that the leader’s role is:

To provide a clear story, strategy and road to success.

To give people a sense of ownership in implementing their part of the strategy.

To manage upwards and provide air cover, protecting people from interference.

To create an encouraging environment and give people practical support.

To make clear contracts about each person’s contribution towards achieving the team’s goals.

To co-ordinate everybody’s strengths.

To make tough decisions.

To do whatever is necessary to guide the team to success.

There will be a chance to discuss these ideas later. But at this stage invite each person to go up in turn and put their Post-it Notes under what they see as the leader’s responsibility.

It is also good if they can explain their reasons and give examples for each idea. They can then move onto the next stage.

slides clear contracts with your team.002

Clarify the team members’
responsibilities in the team

Invite people to describe what they see as the team members’ role in ensuring the team reaches its goals. For example:

To choose to be in the team.

To have a positive attitude.

To understand the team’s goal.

To make clear contracts about their best contribution towards achieving the goal.

To encourage their colleagues.

To be creative.

To find solutions to challenges.

To deliver on their promises.

To do whatever is necessary to help the team to achieve success.

Again, invite each person to go up in turn and place their Post-its under what they see as the team members’ responsibilities. It is also good if they can give their reasons and examples for each idea.

slides clear contracts with your team.003

Clarify and agree on the
team’s working contract

Looking at the ideas under the respective responsibilities, invite people to arrange these under themes and discuss the topics.

When you feel people are ready, invite the team members to agree on the team’s working contract. As the leader, you will have the final say, but team members often produce an excellent agreement.

Conclude by writing the contract and, if appropriate, putting it in a place where people can see it each day. How can you use the contract? There are two main ways.

It can provide a constant reminder of people’s respective responsibilities.

It can be used when tackling difficult situations.

If a person behaves badly, for example, don’t get dragged down into arguing about the details. Just go back to the contract. Ask whether the person wants to follow or change the contract.

Sometimes it may be appropriate to alter the conditions, but then make sure the whole team are in agreement. If a person continues to break the rules, however, they are choosing to leave the team.

Clear contracting provides the basis for building a successful team. If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites you to do the following things.

Describe the specific things you can do to make a clear contract with your team.

Describe the specific benefits of making a clear contract with your team.

Slides Clear Contracting With Your Team.004

Slides Clear Contracting With Your Team.005

Slides Clear Contracting With Your Team.006


css.php