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From an experiment in matching Strengths to Learning - to Cum Laude …

Updated: Feb 20

After not getting my high school diploma yet growing up with a Mother who raised me to believe everyone had intrinsic talents, I've had to navigate a world where I was constantly up against a meritocracy that measures our value through a piece of paper and, because I didn’t have this, was rejected for a number of positions I know I would have been amazing at. I went on to carve out a life for myself through entrepreneurship.

A number of years ago, after mistakingly convincing myself I had to be a psychologist to become a Coach lol, I bravely went on many years ago to train in Coaching, moving on to train as a Strengths Coach. My motivational energy in linking the seed my Mum had sown in me, with actually finding a system that could measure our talents was palpable. I have had a deep fascination ever since, recognising our Strengths and Talents are our genuine 'Universal Value Metric' because we all have them - going on to create my own business WITH-HUMANITY to “unlock the intrinsic-identity of all people in service of greater human engagement”.

My curiosity has not stopped since, even wondering how Don Clifton, grandfather of positive psychology and founder of the CliftonStrengths®, who turned, what others saw as negative traits, into positive, might have viewed the copious mental health labels today and their connection to our disengagement from our natural selves, and our possible re-engagement back towards our intrinsic nature.

I’ve also been concerned for years, watching children taking antidepressants to get through their education, and seeing the number of medical diagnosis growing, that my curiosity piqued and my desire to match our talents to how we contribute the world is still a burning desire.

A chance meeting with the then Director of the Institute of Futures Research a little more than a year before the Covid Pandemic, had sown a seed as I listened to Dr Morne Mostert speak on Futures and courses at the University of Stellenbosch Business School. It was then that I decided to enter into an experiment. What if I matched my Strengths of #1 Futuristic and #2 Strategic to my learning - would my growth be exponential? Could this be the secret to better mental health for our children?

I applied to the university through the Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) system. Futures Studies looks at global systems and trends, foresight tools, and scenario planning - I felt it matched my natural ways of being. I graduated Cum Laude at the end of last year, that after starting off very unconfident, navigating a system that felt so foreign to me. Yet as the course content continued, my confidence began to soar when I realised “I was born for this” 🙏🏼🕺💫

My thesis topic was on the biases around Non-communicable Disease (NCDs) masquerading as mental illness (NCDs are the leading cause of death globally) & I’m now even more enthralled, engaging in continuous learning towards a better understanding of the connection between our natural wiring, our dis/engagement, and our mental/physiological health, and the many other systemic systems that make us into who we are, bringing globalisation into the conversation, and the systemic changes this has forced onto unknowing and unprepared societies.

So imagine its 2030 and everyone is aware of their intrinsic talent patterns and strengths, as well as their non-strengths, those things others are energised by. We all operate through Interdependent Rules of Engagement, a new social system that allows us to consider our impact on self, others, and the environment at large, where we seek first to understand and enter into every situation with postive intent, looking at what is right with each other. Together with this, every child and adult are aware of the "new" Universal Value Metric which is measured through each person's unique combination of talents. We now match our ongoing learning to this. Each individual's value is then sought out, and matched to their contribute to our societies. Global well-being is on the increase and in education and work environments, we actively seek to match talents to how we are wired...

We each carry a unique piece of the puzzle called humanity. Currently +- 80% of individuals are unhappy in their work. This is nothing new, it has been like this for many years. Yet imagine in our 2030 world, we would actively and interdependently be looking to see where ours, and others, piece of the puzzle fits.

Sam McDonald has been married for 30 yeas and has four children. They are a Strength-based family and she has used Strengths to enhance her marriage. Their home is in Hampton Court, UK and the False Coast, Cape, SA. She is a Futurist and Chief Visionary Officer for WITH-HUMANITY, a change-maker with a dream to disrupt our current meritocracy by "Unlocking the IntrinsicIdentity © of all Individuals in service of greater human engagement" creating an all inclusive universal value metric and social system.

She is a Normative Visionary, Systems Thinker, Disruptor, Change-Maker & Activist. Graduating Cum Laude with an MPhil in Futures Studies from the University of Stellenbosch, after failing matric, she believes matching one's intrinsic wiring to how we learn yields exponential results, leap-frogging our current education system. She influences thinking in order to create futures-led enquiry & change towards a future we all want to be part of - linking strategic leadership and management with futures thinking. Her use of Interdependent Rules of Engagement© and the CliftonStrength® Assessment are tools of choice to help people understand each other's unique world views, which are coloured by what she terms their Strengths Language.

She moved to South Africa in 1983 from Nottingham in the UK and has lived in both dysfunction and functional environments. These are her "cross to bear is your gift to share", serving as a bridge in understanding how to create function out of chaos.

She and her fellow Coaches, work with motivated clients using the Strengthsfinder® assessment as a power tool for:

  • Strength Based Interviewing & Recruitment

  • Assisting motivated individuals to fall in love with their careers and find the work they were born to do.

  • Working with high achievers to discover their value and purpose

  • Working with Start-ups to gain momentum, motivation & self-awareness of the Entrepreneur

  • Assisting Students to gain a greater self-awareness, expediting their career path, building confidence and self-esteem.

  • Working with individuals to re-engage in their work environments & leveraging their strengths

  • Working with marriage relationships to help you love again and understand the toxicity, reduce negative experiences, create understanding and, in turn, assist with long-term strategies for lasting transformation

  • Finding your true Purpose, Passion and Value in Life

  • Falling in love with your life and work again

  • She teaches the 'Interdependent Rules of Engagement© & Vulnerability' to focus on living 'Interdependence' as the key to healthier environments - choosing this as 'rules of engagement' over 'Dependence', 'Co-Dependence' & 'Independence'.

Follow the link if you would like to take the Strengths Assessment and here to read more about how to discover who you are at your core.

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