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Showing posts from April, 2015

Sustainable Change Begins with Noticing What is Already Working

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I sometimes say to people. "I am not a therapist. I do not want to be a therapist. I do not believe that people who work with me are broken." The result of working with me (one to one or in a class) is frequently that people feel better. We don't get there by focusing on what is wrong.

This can be hard for people to understand. Like me, they learned to believe that focusing on what works is okay for academics, but not good enough for the "real" world. In the "real" world, people have problems that cause them real suffering. What kind of person would ignore those problems to focus on what works? It sounds a little like a case where the rich get richer, doesn't it?

It is. The more we assume that we have the strengths, skills and resources to live satisfying lives, the more we live satisfying lives. The more we assume that we will become happy after our problems are solved, the more problems we find that need solving. Problems are like the Hydra - wh…

Bring out the Best

What's the difference between your best result and your typical result?

Sometimes the world does align to support your performance and you get a personal best result. But that's probably not what came to mind first. Research shows that we usually attribute our best performances to our own skills, strengths and effort. We believe that we have more influence over our outcomes than is probably the case. What came to mind first was probably your own skill, attitude or effort.

Before you rush in to correct this error, consider its usefulness. Whether or not it is true that our efforts determine our results, it is a useful belief that motivates us to change the only things we can change: the factors within our own control. To get a personal best, we believe that we need to be our personal best.

We use a different version of this logic when we are managing the performance of others. We attribute much of their success to circumstances outside their control and blame their less-than-st…