The Art of Strengths Coaching

O is for Optentia: Enabling Human Potential In Africa

Optentia is a research focus area in the Faculty of Humanities of North-West University at the Vaal Triangle Campus, South Africa. The name “Optentia” comes from two words, namely “Optimal” and “Potential”.

Below are excerpts from its website. You can discover more via the following link.



The mission of the Optentia Research Programme is to develop and organise knowledge for the optimal expression of individual, social and institutional potential, with specific interest in the African context.

The research programme utilises the inputs from various disciplines in the social sciences, including Psychology, Industrial/Organisational Psychology, Educational Psychology, Sociology, Employment Relations, and Social Work.

Optentia supports a humane scientific approach which aims at the individual level to delineate, measure and promote human fulfilment, and at the institutional level to take civic virtue as its subject.

This orientation to social science is essential for understanding the full range of human experience in contemporary times and equipping individuals and institutions to deal with conditions of rapid change, unpredictability, complexity and increased choice that characterise modern society and enhance the optimal utilisation of potential of individuals, communities and societies.

Five areas

Optentia acknowledges that there are many challenges in South Africa. Despite these difficulties, however, some 20 percent of people are resilient and do well in life. Optentia is doing research into why these people thrive.

Elsabé Diedericks uses a quote from Marcel Proust to explain the approach. The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, said Proust, but in having new eyes.

Optentia focuses on understanding why and how some South Africans transcend difficult circumstances and do well. It also aims to pass on these principles in ways that people can apply in their daily lives and work.

Optentia aims to contribute to the pool of knowledge that can continue to build a thriving Africa.

African perspective

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