How to bring the best out in yourself

Meet my colleague and friend Erik van den Top. Erik is this months ‘interview with the experts’ guest.

Erik is a certified and seasoned Leadership & Positive Psychology Coach, Facilitator and Guest Speaker.

In an organisational context, he coaches experienced and emerging leaders who want to enhance their leadership effectiveness and sense of fulfilment. He also coaches staff on enhancing their interpersonal relating and positive influencing of others and he works with teams who want to improve team cohesion, effectiveness and performance.

In private practice, he coaches both adults and youth who want to step into their best self, build their strengths, capabilities and resilience and enhance their positive functioning, well-being and flourishing.



  • What brings out the best in me?
  • What does my potential best self actually look like and how often do I operate out of this mode?
  • How on earth does this best self-mode disappear so quickly sometimes and do I find myself be in non-productive (shadow) mode?

Important questions I hear coaching clients ask often.

As we travel through childhood we do so by leveraging our core strengths and over time, organise our character around the ones that are core to our essential nature, the ones that serve us best.

These may be the strengths of “moving towards” others (e.g. sensitivity to the needs of others), the strengths of “moving against” others (e.g. striving for improvement) or the strengths of “moving away” from others (e.g. taking perspective).

As we hone and leverage our core strengths more and more as we mature, it comes to define us. We form our core identity in relationship to them and the use of these strengths give us a sense of security, safety and self-worth.

We tend to become fused with this strength and are no longer aware that this is how we operate and that there are various other ways of operating available to us. We become “subject to it”, we cannot see it and it runs us (on autopilot).

When we use these strengths appropriately it brings out our “Best self”, we perform at our best and make great contributions to others. The problem arises when we allow our sense of self, safety and self-worth be dependent on these strengths. Strengths turn into liabilities, barriers and obstacles, and they start limiting us in important ways. Sensitivity to others’ needs for example becomes pleasing others at all cost as not doing so (in our sense of reality) means others won’t like, love and appreciate us.

Perspective taking becomes criticising others as we only feel safe and secure when we feel superior and can find the flaws in others’ thinking.

We start overplaying and relying upon them and when our environment, people around us or situations trigger us we react and overplay our strengths rather than pausing, remaining flexible, and responding in a way that delivers the best possible outcome.

Finding the answers to those important questions we asked earlier begins with AWARENESS. Awareness of the core strengths – those core motivators that sit deep in our subconscious and influence our behaviour, thoughts and emotions to such a significant extent. Awareness of what triggers us to go into shadow and what the alternative best self mode looks like when we leverage our strengths appropriately and with flexibility.

As they say; “we cannot manage what we cannot see”.

A tool that my clients (including teams!) have found invaluable in providing this awareness is The Why of You Powered by PRINT®, a breakthrough model of human motivation and behaviour that was developed by The Paul Hertz Group.

The PRINT® The Why of You tool surfaces up, through a 15-minute online survey, a person’s core motivators – a primary and a secondary. The PRINT® report then provides a unique insight into these core motivators, the “anticipated best self” and “potential shadow” as well as the triggers that stimulate shadow behaviour.

I am a licensed practitioner/coach in The Why of You Powered by PRINT® .

For more information on PRINT®:

I have a special offer for Gai’s readers that will enable you to answer those important questions this article started with.

A PRINT® The Why of You survey + report and 60 min debrief with me via Zoom + a “How I can be more best self strategies” for your primary and secondary motivator for NZ$295+GST (normal price is $450).

This package gives you awareness and actionable strategies to adopt. I also offer coaching for individuals and team, to take a deeper dive into “the why of you”, loosening up self-limiting beliefs that hold you back from stepping into your best-self and / or support with adopting positive change.

To sign up for the PRINT® offer: 

Go to Put “Gai’s newsletter offer” in the message box and I will be in touch to organise the survey and debrief.

For more information on  Erik:


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