The Art of Strengths Coaching

M is for Maintaining Momentum


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.

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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.


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.

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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.

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    A is for Aliveness, Alertness and Achievement

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    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.

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    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.

    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.


    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.

    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!

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    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.

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      W is for Wonderful Work rather than Worrying

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