Fearless Speaking Works

020 8251 5060  |  info@peterkershaw.co.uk


MENU menu

Close close menu


Close close menu

Dangers of Focusing on What is Wrong




Dangers of Focusing on what is Wrong! 


Historically, most psychology research has been about studying what is wrong with us; what makes us ‘abnormal’. Our default position whether at work or home is to focus solely  on what is wrong. We might see a good outcome of any intervention as simply removing what is ‘bad’ or achieving an ‘acceptable’ level of functioning.


What if instead, we focused on what makes us be more than just free of ‘abnormalities’ but to actually thrive. This is an exciting area of psychology.


Positive Psychology was founded by Martin Seligman. His research was based on many different, religions, cultures and philosophies throughout history and around the world. He discovered many commonalities. From this he found six core Virtues and from these we find twenty four character strengths that have been shown to help us thrive and be the best people we can. This applied to both personal and professional lives. 


Core Virtues




Character Strengths - Bravery, Perseverance, Honesty, Zest




Character Strengths - Love, Kindness, Social Intelligence




Character Strengths - Appreciation of Beauty & Excellence, Gratitude, Hope, Humour, Spirituality




Character Strengths - Self Regulation, Prudence, Humility, Forgiveness




Character Strengths  - Leadership, Fairness, Teamwork, 


Wisdom & Knowledge 


Character Strengths  - Perspective, Love of Learning, Judgement, Curiosity, Creativity


When we use our strengths, we can achieve more and enjoy a greater sense of wellbeing. 


Rather than taking a Pollyanna view of life, Positive Psychology acknowledges that individuals and teams may have very serious difficulties. There is a time to acknowledge problems and weaknesses.  There is a danger however, of focusing too much on the negative. This can lead to loss of motivation, burnout and depression. Remember that emotions are contagious, both positive and negative. Who would you rather have on your team? Who would you rather have as a boss? Someone who focuses on your strengths or ignores them? Someone who focuses on problems or solutions? 


To overcome difficulties utilising our character strengths can be a way of bringing about sustained and workable change as quickly as possible. Working with character strengths can help both individuals and teams both overcome difficulties and achieve aspirations.


The VIA questionnaire is a good place to start. There is both an adult and child version.


Conversations that are structured around the following will often lead to more profound, sustained and workable progress. In other words, thriving:- 


Strengths v Weaknesses 


What is Working  v What is not working


Solutions v Problems



Gratitude is one of the most powerful strengths to work with. 


Character strengths most associated with CEOs are Love of learning and Curiosity. 


Example of using character strengths to achieve a goal:-


Envision one goal you would like to attain. Use your hope strength to envision something that links with your interests and values. (Intrinsic motivation)


Make the goal SMART.  Use your prudence strength to plan it out thoroughly across these five elements.


Weave in character strengths seamlessly. How will your signature strengths serve as a means to help you achieve your goal? Might other character strengths support you as pathways to your goal as well?


Begin to take action towards your goal. How will perseverance support you in overcoming obstacles and staying focused on your goal ahead?


Enlist support. Might you include family, friends, colleagues to maintain your goal progress? This could involve deploying your strengths of teamwork, curiosity and love.