THE FOUR C’s

by John D. Adams and Sabina A. Spencer

There are four qualities which support optimal performance which are relatively universal. Suzanne Kobasa and Salvadore Madi investigated three factors which they felt would provide resistance to stress and promote performance during stressful periods. John Adams and Sabina Spencer have added a fourth “hardiness” or resistance, factor as a result of their explorations in a large number of organizations. The greater the presence of these four qualities, the better the performance and the healthier the stress level.

The four factors are easy to remember because they all begin with the letter — CHALLENGE, CONTROL, COMMITMENT, and CLARITY. When these four factors are present, in the manner described below, they promote sustainable, satisfying high level performance. Look over the following descriptions and draw some conclusions as to the presence or absence of each in your life and work today. In each case, there are both personal and worksite aspects of the quality to consider.

CHALLENGE
PERSONAL
Do you approach life with the outlook that It presents a series of opportunities for you to learn from? Do you turn problems and obstacles into developmental challenges? When life gives you a lemon, do you make lemonade?
WORKPLACE
Does the workplace provide you with an appropriate amount of challenge? That is, are you stretched sufficiently in your present work to learn new things; and not stretched so much that you feel blown away with overload or complexity?
CONTROL
PERSONAL
Do you feel that most of the time you are in control of your life? Do you have goals that you are working toward? Do you feel responsible for what you are getting from life? Are you the Captain of your own ship?
WORKPLACE
Does the workplace provide you with enough direction, and at the same time allow you sufficient discretion to approach things in the ways you know work best for you? As you develop in a particular assignment, are you given progressively more freedom?
COMMITMENT
PERSONAL
Do you feel highly committed to your own growth and development? Are you dedicated to exploring the opportunities life provides? Do you believe in yourself and are you committed to realizing your full potential?
WORKPLACE
Are you aware of how your work fits into the larger scheme of things? Do you feel that your work is making an important contribution to an important service or product? Are you able to get involved in important aspects of your unit’s work?
CLARITY
PERSONAL
Do you have a dear sense of purpose and direction in your life? Are you dear about who you are, what you want, what you need and what you can do?
WORKPLACE
Are you dear about the direction and purpose of your work unit your organization? Are you dear about what is expected of you and the standards on which your performance is judged? Are the roles and responsibilities dear in your work team?

If all of these qualities are in good working order in your life and your work, you are likely to be highly satisfied with how things are going for you and likely to feel quite empowered. Most people, however, find that there is some room for improvement. If this is true in your case, please consider the following questions.

PERSONAL

  • Which of the 4 C’s, 1f any, would you like to change in your personal life?
  • For each one you would like to change, what changes would you make?
  • For each desired change, what are a few initial action steps you could take?

WORKPLACE

  • Which of the 4 C’s, It any, would you like to change in your work situation?
  • For each one you would like to change, what changes would you make?
  • For each desired change, what are a few initial action steps you could take?