Finding Our Zone of Natural Excellence
Published by Pamela Armstrong, PhD
21 April 2007

Have you ever been placed in a small group of very capable people who could not get the goal accomplished even though they were highly motivated?

I certainly have, many times. The group cannot seem to get traction. It seems to lack the right ingredients to succeed. Discussions lack forward momentum, and tend to deteriorate with no progress made.

It was purely accidental that I chose the field of psychology, as I received very little guidance when choosing a career. At that time it seemed that universities spent very little energy in helping students to find their "niche." I thought it was basic that people should be nurtured in the full development of that. Even after accomplishing my final degree, it was clear to me that the academic and real worlds were too disconnected, and that my flight path was a solo project.

As I have moved through life in the role of student, parent, and professional, I have interacted with many types of groups. At times I have been amazed at the amount of conflict, competition and inertia that were ongoing in certain groups. I knew that group dynamics and local politics often affected the outcome of group efforts. The power structure often didn't want to hear new input, and cronyism often reinforced the underlying conflict, competition and inertia.

Finally in 1990 I learned of a new book entitled "The Conative Connection" by Kathy Kolbe. The author described a crucial element of human experience that had never been measured before. She was measuring a third part of the mind which is inborn and instinctive (conative). It was separate from personality and intellect. She demonstrated that our instinctive approach to striving towards a goal is VISIBLE and that it has a VISIBLE effect on our individual and group efforts.

Later that year I saw her featured on the front page of the Wall Street Journal. I called her and learned that I could sign on to be trained in her theory and methods. She was using her system to guide individuals and businesses to know their instinctive talents utilizing the Kolbe Atm, Kolbe Btm, and Kolbe Ctm Indexes.

Most of us are trained to please others but also to "win" in the competitive arenas of life. On the other hand, we may have noticed a small—or big—voice inside telling us to create a life path reflecting our individuality. Conventional wisdom might cause us to take the cautious route for fear we might fail. Knowing my Kolbe "M.O." (mode of operation) freed me to know my natural zone of excellence and to trust my inner wisdom. Knowing my "M.O" also helps me to see the strengths that other people can contribute to my efforts. It helps me to know precisely the instinctive talents that are needed to complement mine and to create synergy in a team. Being in a team with no synergy is usually a very unpleasant experience. This system helps us to avoid that in a totally non-judgmental way.

So basically I have learned that I could step back into the creative process that came naturally to me as a young child. At that age, I didn't have to ask anybody how to play. I was simply following my instincts. I loved to experiment, sometimes with disastrous results. However, I was "following my bliss." Later I learned that others might view my experimentation as impulsive—even reckless. As I pursued innovation, others might see me as lacking a rational basis or clear plan for what I was doing. Other individuals insisted on probing for facts (Fact Finding energy), creating systems (Follow Thru energy), or creating things in three dimensions (Implementor energy). Kolbe research has demonstrated that the majority of teachers and professors do not share my "M.O." Actually, only about 5% of individuals would approach tasks in the way that I do.

My results on the Kolbe Atm Index gave me a new language for this. I naturally innovate and question the status quo. Kolbe research demonstrated that the majority of teachers and professors have less Quick Start instinctive energy than I do. Only about 5% of individuals would approach tasks in the way that I do. That would also be true of anyone else's "M.O." So this is like knowing our instinctive DNA!

Since I learned the Kolbe language, I have taken much more joy in my own creative process, both professionally and personally. The coaching which is vital to understanding how to manage our stress and our instinctive energy has been very empowering. And it has been inspiring to coach others and empower their decisions and their effectiveness.

Since I know the field of testing, I can truly say that the Kolbe Systemtm is the most predictive set of instruments I have ever encountered. Although the measurements are deceptively simple, the results are simply freeing as they help us to predict what we need to succeed. The zone of excellence is a different lens which "levels the playing field" so that we can truly see the value contributed by individuals.

— So, back to that group that was stuck. It most probably had a terrible imbalance in the M.O.'s of the group members. You can have too much or too little energy within any of the four action modes. Kolbe coaching gives you strategies to create better alignment of the instinctive energies needed in the group.

Would you like to have a map to guide your life as a creative process?

Would you like to have your organization, business or family function better as a team?

Contact Dr. Pam today!

Proudly based in Elkridge, Maryland and serving the Kolbe coaching and management needs of Baltimore, Elkridge, Columbia, Bethesda, and Frederick, MD as well as the Washington, DC metro region.