The Art of Strengths Coaching

S is for Soul Work and Salary Work

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What is your soul work? What is your salary work? How can you do more of your soul work and, if appropriate, earn a salary? Let’s explore these themes.

Soul Work

What are the kinds of work that make your soul sing? There are several ways to answer this question.

Some people answer it by describing the specific activities in which they feel alive. They may be gardening, painting, teaching motivated people, caring for animals or whatever.

Some people answer it in another way. They describe their soul work in terms of their vocation and the vehicles they use to express it on the way towards doing valuable work.

A person’s vocation is their calling. It is what they are here to do. Their vocation remains constant, but they may express it through various vehicles during their life. People often do their soul work when employing a vehicle that plays to their strengths.

Dame Cicely Saunders, for example, loved to care for people. This eventually led to helping to give birth to the modern hospice movement.

She began her career by training as a nurse, but she suffered a back injury that halted that career path. Overcoming the setback, she became a medical social worker and got a job at St. Thomas’ Hospital in London.

There she met a dying patient called David Tasma, whose plight revealed the lack of care for the terminally ill. A 40-year-old refugee from Poland, he was dying of incurable cancer.

David had no relatives so Cicely devoted many hours to talking with him about his life. Apart from exploring his own feelings, they discussed the need to create special facilities for people who were dying.

Denise Winn takes up the story in her book The Hospice Way.

“Although the hospital did its best, David suffered much pain and discomfort, both physical and mental.

“It was then that Cicely first mooted the idea of building a special hospital herself, to cater specifically for the very different needs of the terminally ill.

“David was thrilled to be the inspiration for such an idea and when he died he left her all his money (£500), saying  ‘I’ll be a window in your home.’”

Cicely embarked on her mission. She studied to become a doctor and served in several posts.

She then began raising the £500,000 necessary to build a specially designed hospital with highly qualified staff.

Ten years later she achieved her vision with the opening of St. Christopher’s Hospice in South London. Denise Winn wrote:

“A beautiful yet homely building, with a wealth of windows overlooking peaceful colourful gardens as well as a road that hums with life, St. Christopher’s is still the inspiration and model for the modern hospice movement.

“It is a remarkable testimony to a remarkable woman, now Dame Cicely Saunders. And, by the large sunny window in the reception, is a plaque for David Tasma.”

Dame Cicely created a fulfilling vehicle for expressing a vocation. This led to creating St. Christopher’s.

What are the specific kinds of projects in which you feel you are doing your soul work? Let’s assume you have some idea about your vocation. How can you find the right vehicle?

One approach is to focus on the specific activity that you find fascinating, have a strong feeling for and in which you also have a track record of finishing. Let’s explore these themes.

Fascinating

What are the things that fascinate you? What are those you want to explore? What are the activities you would pursue even if you did not get paid for doing them?

Feeling

Looking at the activities that fascinate you, which of these do you have a feeling for? Which are you good at? Which are those where you feel in your element – at ease and yet able to excel? Which are those where you quickly see patterns?

Finishing

Let’s return to the specific activities that fascinate you. Are there any in which you have a strong track record of finishing?

You may be good at helping people to succeed, delivering specific projects or producing some other kind of outcome. The result you produce may be physical, psychological or practical. The key is that – even if only a short time – you are able to deliver.

If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites you to describe the specific things that for you feel like soul work. These can be specific activities or specific times when you feel like you are following your vocation and doing valuable work.

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Salary Work

What are the kinds of activities that feel like salary work? People do not mind doing grunt work, but they need to see how it contributes to doing great work.

Some people can reframe salary work. One person I know said:

“Today I am going to work with a challenging client. I will be professional and do my best to help them succeed.

“I reframe the work, however, as: ‘Today I am going to go out and earn enough money to pay towards building a conservatory.’ That is a good motivator.”

There are many reasons why something may feel like salary work. You may not enjoy the work or not see how it contributes to achieving a worthwhile goal. You may also feel that it is not helping your physical or psychological health.

If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites you to describe the specific things that for you feel like salary work.

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Soul Work That
Also Earns A Salary

There are many models for doing salary work that also earns a salary. One approach is to do the inner work and the outer work involved on the way to doing such work.

The Inner Work

This involves looking within. It begins by clarifying the soul work you do that could be translated into a service or product that could help other people succeed.

Different people do different kinds of soul work that follow this path. They might provide services or products that involve enriching people’s lives, fixing problems, passing on knowledge or providing specialist services.

The Outer Work

This involves looking outside. You can clarify your perfect customers or employers. What are the characteristics of these people? What are the challenges they face? What is their picture of success?

Bearing in mind your soul work, how can you use your talents to help them succeed? How can you reach such people in a way the fits your values? How can you show how the services or products you offer have helped people to succeed?

You can, of course, simply do soul work that provides food for your wellbeing. If you want to do soul work that puts food on the table, however, it may also call for adding savvy.

Here is a link to an article about how to give to people and get paid for doing work you love.

http://www.thepositiveapproach.global/getting-work-by-going-out-and-helping-people-to-succeed/

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

Describe the specific kind of soul work you would like to focus on doing.

Describe the specific things you can do to do more of this kind soul work in the future.

Describe the specific things you can do to translate this soul work into services or products that are attractive to customers or employers and also maybe get paid for doing such work.

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    P is for People’s Motivation

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    There are many models for understanding people’s motivation. This article explores how they may be driven by the following factors.

    Personal Values

    They may be driven by their personal values, their beliefs or what they feel is important in life.

    Purpose

    They may be driven by a sense of purpose or a mission they want to accomplish in life.

    Pleasure

    They may be driven to do things that give pleasure to themselves or other people.

    Pain

    They may be driven to deal with the pain that they or other people may be experiencing in life.

    Profit

    They may be driven to achieve something that, in the widest sense, is profitable for themselves or for other people.

    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 motivated by personal values, purpose, pleasure, pain or profit.

    Describe the specific things you did to translate the motivation into action.

    Describe the specific benefits – for you and for other people – of translating the motivation into action.

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    Sometimes it can be useful to tap into people’s drivers to enable them to work towards a specific goal. Bearing this in mind, let’s explore the following factors that motivate people.

    Personal Values

    Many people are driven by their personal values. These motivate them to focus on what they believe is important in life or to follow certain beliefs.

    People who perform courageous acts, for example, sometimes find it unusual when others praise their efforts. They have certain values and take the opportunity to translate these into action. Such people say things like: “It was the natural thing to do.”

    Imagine that you are mentoring a person who wants to shape their future. One approach is to help them to focus on their deepest values. You can, for example, invite them to do the following exercise.

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    People choose their values in different ways. They may choose to follow certain values, for example, after reflecting on what they believe is important in life.

    People’s values can be strongly influenced by the culture they grow up in during their formative years. They may then adopt certain belief systems that influence their behaviour.

    Belief systems can be a positive influence, because they provide a strong driving compass that enables people to do fine work. They can, however, be a negative influence.

    Why? They sometimes stop people seeing reality. As the old saying goes: “Do people believe what they see or do they see what they believe?”

    Civilisations have died in the past because they stuck to their belief systems and denied the reality of what was happening around them. Ninety-nine percent of the data showed that they were heading to danger, but they preferred to focus on the one percent of doubt. This led to disaster.

    Oil companies will only change their policies, for example, if they see or are told that changing to clean energy will make them more money. This is because their corporate values are about making profit. Let’s move on to another motivator.

    Purpose

    A person may be driven by a sense of purpose or a mission they want to accomplish in life. Pursuing this activity often brings meaning to their lives. They can refer back to this core compass when things get tough in their lives or work.

    Peak performers often follow one of their passions and translate this into a clear purpose. They may want to help other people, climb a particular mountain, pass on knowledge to future generations or whatever.

    Great teams also have a clear purpose. They may aim to find a vaccine for an illness, build a successful prototype, win a sporting trophy or whatever. They have a compelling reason for being.

    Many people now cite the quote that may or may not have been said by Mark Twain. “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.”

    Some people wait for a purpose to appear, but this seldom happens. People are more likely to develop a purpose by doing things they find stimulating. Those who follow this route often believe that:

    “A purpose is something that you develop. It is not something that you find.”

    Such people do not always start by being absolutely clear on the career they want to pursue. They are passionate, however, about something they want to explore or do.

    They therefore throw themselves into gathering experience on their chosen theme. This can lead to them finding a more specific purpose.

    Imagine that you are mentoring a person who wants to shape their future. One approach is to help them to begin focusing on their deepest purpose. You can, for example, invite them to do the following exercise.

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    Pleasure

    People love to do things that give them great enjoyment. They also like to give pleasure to other people.

    The pleasure principle is a term that stems from Freudian psychology. It says that people are motivated towards pleasure and away from pain. Hence it is sometimes called the pleasure-pain principle.

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    There are many exercises people can use to tap into this drive. One invites them to focus on the things that give them positive energy. Here are some of the things they write.

    Positive Energy

    The things that give me positive energy
    in my personal or professional life are:

    Being with our children … Gardening … Listening to the sound of our waterfall … Singing in the choir … Taking walks by myself … Playing the guitar … Cooking for our family … Caring for our horse … Doing exciting projects at work … Sleeping deeply.

    Imagine that you are mentoring a person who wants to shape their future. You can, for example, invite them to do the following exercise.

    Energy is life. Doing more of the things that give them positive energy can increase their motivation. It can also increase their strength to deal with challenges they meet in their life.

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    Pain

    People are sometimes motivated by pain. They may only go to the dentist, move on from a job or change their lifestyle when the pain is unbearable.

    Pain can also act as a motivator to help others. People who have empathy with others who are experiencing hardship, for example, can translate this into action. They may then channel this energy into working to improve people’s conditions and build a better world.

    Looking at your own life, has there ever been a time when you were motivated by pain? If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites you to do the following things.

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    Profit

    People may be driven to achieve something that, in the widest sense, is profitable for themselves or other people. The immediate reaction is to think of money as the profit. Certainly this is the case for some people and companies, but there are many other kinds of prizes.

    Sometimes the profit is to feel better, to improve one’s health or to see other people grow. Sometimes it is to feel you are living a good life and leaving a positive legacy. It is to sleep with an easy conscience that you are doing your best to help both present and future generations.

    People are motivated to do things that they believe will bring benefits. Here is one example that illustrates the principle.

    During the 1990s I worked with a task force that successfully introduced a wellbeing programme into a big company. The biggest challenge was getting the programme signed off by the Directors.

    The task force were savvy. They believed the programme would help with wellbeing, motivation and retention. When presenting the approach to the Directors, however, they began by outlining how it would maintain or even improve profitability.

    The task force had done their homework. They were able to show how having healthy employees would impact the bottom line and also attract talented people.

    You may or may not agree with this approach. The programme was immediately backed by the Directors, however, and produced many other benefits.

    People like to do things that are, in the widest sense, profitable. This highlights a key challenge when working with decision makers in business and other fields. It is to show how it is profitable to care for life on the planet to ensure the survival of the human species.

    As mentioned at the beginning, there are many models for understanding people’s motivation. If you wish, try tackling the final exercise on this theme. This invites you to do the following things.

    Describe a specific situation in the future when you may be motivated by personal values, purpose, pleasure, pain or profit.

    Describe the specific things you can do then to translate the motivation into action.

    Describe the specific benefits – for you and other people – of translating your motivation into action.

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