The Art of Strengths Coaching

I is for Balancing Innovation, Implementation and Impact

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Different people like different ratios of innovation, implementation and impact in their work. Some people like equal ratios. Some like to mainly focus on innovation. Some prefer to focus more on implementation and impact.

Some organisations make a mistake when hiring creative people. They invite them to take the company forward, but then tell them to just become implementers. This squeezes out people’s sense of innovation and impact.

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Looking at your own work, when have you got the right balance between innovation, implementation and impact?

You may have been tackling a particular project, leading a team, working with your favourite customers or whatever. What did you do to get the right balance? What happened as a result?

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 got the right balance between innovation, implementation and impact. 

Describe the specific things you did to get the right balance. 

Describe the specific benefits – for both you and for other people – that resulted from getting the right balance.

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Some people love the innovation aspect. One engineer said:

“I enjoy designing things that are simple, beautiful and effective. I don’t always need a blank piece of paper.

“Sometimes creative problem solving does the trick. This company is great. It encourages me to use my brain in my work.”

Some people love the implementation. One co-ordinator said:

“I like to get my hands dirty. My strengths lie in making things happen.

“Several times I have introduced processes that have enabled organisations to succeed.”

Some people love to achieve high impact. One business development director said:

“Selling to customers still turns me on. After getting a positive response from a client, I drive away in my car with the music blaring.

“Maybe I will never change. It’s great to get a result.”

Looking to the future, how can you put yourself into situations that play to your strengths and, for you, provide the right balance? One person answered this question in the following way.

“I am a prototype builder. During the past 10 years I have launched several successful pilots in on-line banking, customer service and travel

“I like the design, development and initial delivery, but then I get bored with long-term maintenance. This means I need to continually find new projects.

“My approach is to continually keep in touch with people in my network. I meet them with the idea of listening to their challenges and sharing knowledge they can use to achieve success.

“Frequently this leads to people asking me for further advice or, in some cases, asking me to lead a project. The approach seems to work.”

Let’s return to your own work. Looking to the future, how can you create what for you would be the right balance between innovation, implementation and impact?

It is likely that you may need to be proactive in making this happen, rather than it being granted. If so, what practical things can you do to create such satisfying work?

You may be able to do it in one job or project. Alternatively, you may need to create a portfolio of work that satisfies the different elements.

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 create what for you would be the right balance between innovation, implementation and impact.

Describe the specific benefits – both for you and for other people – of getting the right balance.

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    C is for Compassion Being Caring In Action

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    Compassion goes beyond sympathy or empathy. It means taking positive action to help people in a particular situation. It is caring in action.

    Different people have different circles of compassion. Some may feel compassion for themselves and their loved ones. Some may extend their circle to include friends and kindred spirits.

    Some may go further. They may feel compassion for specific groups they identify with, such as communities or nations. Some may extend their compassion to include many human beings, living things and the planet.

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    People can choose to be compassionate or cruel in their actions and words. The choice they make has consequences, both for themselves and other people.

    People who show compassion often have a history of being loved and being taught to respect other human beings. They believe in spreading happiness, rather than hate. They want to plant seeds of hope that will encourage both present and future generations.

    Such people are positive realists. They recognise the many challenges that we face as human beings. They believe in finding positive solutions, however, that will benefit both people and the planet.

    They are strongly aware of systems theory, though they may call it something else. They may instead say something like: “You reap what you sow.”

    Such people believe that what you put into a system – be it a relationship, organisation or planet – will strongly affect the future of that system. They therefore try to act with compassion rather than cruelty.

    Jeremy Rifkin outlines a similar approach in his book The Empathic Civilisation. He believes it is vital to recognise that our actions have consequences on the whole system.

    This calls for extending our empathy to the entire human family and the biosphere. Taking this step will increase our chances of surviving as a species. You can discover more via the following link.

    Looking at your own life, when have you shown compassion by translating caring into action? You may have done this when choosing to be helpful, rather than hurtful, to other people. What did you do to show compassion?

    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 show compassion.

    Describe the specific things that you did to show compassion.

    Describe the specific things that resulted from showing compassion in the situation.

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    Compassion can produce enormous benefits, both for ourselves and other people. Certainly it is possible to show compassion and then become a victim, which is important to recognise. Human beings may only survive as a species, however, if we learn to care for both present and future generations.

    Karen Armstrong explored these themes in her TED talk that led to creating the Charter for Compassion. She believes it is vital to start from the heart and create hope, rather than spread division. Karen and others have underlined the following points.

    Compassion is at the root of many religions and spiritual beliefs.

    Let’s revive the Golden Rule. Always treat all other people with the respect that you would like them to treat you with. Do not cause pain to others that you would not like inflected on yourself. 

    Compassion can help to build a global community that helps to achieve the common good.

    Below is a video in which Karen talks about the Charter for Compassion. The Charter includes the following messages. You can discover more on its website.

    We believe a compassionate world is a peaceful world.

    We believe a compassionate world is possible when every man, woman and child treats others as they would wish to be treated – with dignity, equity and respect.

    We believe all human beings are born with the capacity for compassion, and it must be cultivated for human beings to survive and thrive. 

    The Greater Good Center, based at the University of California, Berkeley, focuses on the science of living a meaningful life. Here are excerpts from part of its website that is devoted to compassion. You can discover more via the following link.

    Compassion is not the same as empathy or altruism though the concepts are related.  

    While empathy refers more generally to our ability to take the perspective of and feel the emotions of another person, compassion is when those feelings and thoughts include the desire to help.

    Scientific research into the measurable benefits of compassion is young. Preliminary findings suggest, however, that being compassionate can improve health, wellbeing, and relationships.  

    Many scientists believe that compassion may even be vital to the survival of our species, and they’re finding that its advantages can be increased through targeted exercises and practice.  

    Compassion makes us feel good.

    Compassionate action (e.g., giving to charity) activates pleasure circuits in the brain, and compassion training programs, even very brief ones, strengthen brain circuits for pleasure and rewards and lead to lasting increases in self-reported happiness. 

    Being compassionate – tuning in to other people in a kind and loving manner – can reduce risk of heart disease by boosting the positive effects of the Vagus Nerve, which helps to slow our heart rate. 

    Brain scans during loving-kindness meditation, which directs compassion toward suffering, suggest that, on average, compassionate people’s minds wander less about what has gone wrong in their lives, or might go wrong in the future; as a result, they’re happier.

    Compassion helps make caring parents: Brain scans show that when people experience compassion, their brains activate in neural systems known to support parental nurturance and other caregiving behaviors. 

    Compassion helps make better spouses: Compassionate people are more optimistic and supportive when communicating with others.   

    Employees who receive more compassion the workplace see themselves, their co-workers, and their organization in a more positive light, report feeling more positive emotions like joy and contentment, and are more committed to their jobs.

    More compassionate societies – those that take care of their most vulnerable members, assist other nations in need, and have children who perform more acts of kindness – are the happier ones. 

    Compassionate people are more socially adept, making them less vulnerable to loneliness. 

    Let’s return to your own life and work. Looking to the future, are there any ways you would like to continue to show compassion? What might be the benefits, both for you and for other people?

    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 continue to show compassion. 

    Describe the specific benefits of showing compassion in these ways.

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