Lockdown Lounge #1 – Know Your Strengths

Lockdown Lounge #1 – Know Your Strengths

In the first Lockdown Lounge curated by the Guildhall Coaching and Mentoring Faculty, eleven Loungers convened to discuss a range of ways to rethink, reframe and review the experience of lockdown.

JaneJo and Chris were our conversational bartenders, on hand to skilfully blend the cocktail of opinions and stir the distinctive spirits that the Loungers brought to the room. The atmosphere was lively and respectful.

Make yourself comfortable…

Jo was our principal mixologist for the afternoon, and her role was to guide our thinking, delving into our personal strengths, our resourcefulness and to bring out the diverse insights of the members of this first ever Lounge.

The lockdown has brought unforeseen challenges, but we can still be alive to the potential opportunities that this once-in-a lifetime (we hope) moment can offer.

Lockdown Lounge was started to share models and concepts from the world of coaching in order to bring about stimulating and open discussions.

We began, of course, with welcomes, introductions, and with agreements and expectations. We asked for confidentiality and unconditional positive acceptance of each other.

What’s your book?

Jo started by inviting the Loungers to cast their minds back to the start of March. What was going on for us then? And what has been happening since then? What has the journey been?

And then the main topic to inspire the conversation:

If you were to write a book about your journey over the last seven weeks, what would it be called?

And then the Lounge was truly in session. Three breakout rooms, each with their own host, began a thought-provoking and lively exchange that wandered playfully beyond the suggested starting points.

Take a moment to think about your journey since lockdown

What’s the title of your book?

What was the end of the last chapter?

Was it a cliffhanger or a happy ending?

The contents of those discussions are, of course, confidential, but one of the insights that fascinated me was from those artists who have been used to working alone – either for reasons of preference or through personal circumstance.

Now the rest of the world has come to join them, and their reflections on the changes of attitudes that they’d seen were intriguing. A new type of communication was emerging – what was the future for that?

We were ready for our second shake of the conversational cocktail.

Jo already had the ingredients lined up on the bar.

Find Your Strengths

Jo chatted briefly about the principles of Positive Psychology.

When Martin Seligman (one of the founding fathers of positive psychlogy) was president of the American Psychological Association in 1998, he issued a call to arms to psychologists. He implored them to move away from a deficit model of psychology where the focus is on what is “wrong” with people, to looking at what makes life worth living.

What is it that makes people happy and fulfilled?

24 Character Strengths

Together with Christopher Peterson, Seligman led a team of 53 scientists in a 3 year research project. This identified 24 character strengths which are universal across cultures, nations, religions and belief systems. These natural capacities in how we think, feel and behave enable optimal functioning and performance.

What are we using when we are at our best?

(A free survey which ranks all of your 24 strengths is available at the VIA website).

Description: Macintosh HD:Users:cbrannick:Coaching:Lockdown Lounge:VIA Character strengths.jpg

Jo invited everyone to briefly consider what they thought might be their top character strengths.

(As an aside, before the meeting I first guessed what my top 5 would be, then took the test… I was right on 4 of them!)

What would you expect to be your top five character strengths?

Are they the ones you would want?

What strengths do you use the most?

It was time for the next round…

Where’s your flow?

Jo gave a quick summation of the work of Mihaly Csiskzenmihalyi (who worked with Martin Seligman on the Character Strengths project), and of his concept of ‘flow’ (his Ted Talk on Flow is well worth a watch).

Then she encouraged us all to bring to mind a moment when we’ve been in flow…

  • so absorbed that we don’t notice time passing
  • facing a meaningful challenge
  • sustained and focussed effort
  • the activity is rewarding in its own right
  • we feel in control yet at the same time lost in ourselves
  • we’re fully present in the moment

… and to consider which of our character strengths we were using at that time.

What’s your next book?

Once more the bartender allowed the Loungers to do what came naturally in the Lounge: to talk. We went off into our breakout rooms with a set of suggested areas for discussion.

What do you want to be happening in the next few months and which of your strengths will be helpful in that journey?

What could be happening if you used your chosen strength, or what character strength could you use in a new and different way?

What benefit(s) would that have?

If the next part of your story is as good as it could be, what will the sequel to your first book be called?

Once again, the chat wandered over a range of subjects but the people in the room that I was in seemed most fascinated by the idea of flow. Permission to give oneself space for self-care came up.

As a final summation, before we all left the Lounge for our different worlds, Jo asked us to consider which character strength we could challenge ourselves to use more in the coming weeks. She encouarged us to make a note of our successes – all too easily forgotten in the challenges we face. 

What will the title of your sequel be called?

What would be helpful to you in writing the next chapter?

What strengths could you make more use of?

And we all put on our metaphorical coats and scarves and left the warmth of the Lounge, knowing that it would be open fortnightly on Wednesdays at 4pm.

The exercises offered to our readers at home are sometimes slightly modified in the light of feedback from our Loungers.

(and if you enjoy my writing, why not buy me a coffee at Ko-fi.com/chrisbrannick? It’s not expected or demanded, but I’d be really touched. I live on appreciation and coffee… in that order)

Featured image courtesy of Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

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