Asset-Based Thinking

Asset-Based Thinking (ABT) was one of the first ‘positive thinking’ tools that I came across. I still use it a lot and think it’s one of the best and most easily used tools of its type.

ABT  encourages us to think positively, to think about what we’ve got rather than what we haven’t got, what we can do rather than what we can’t do. It focuses on:

  • opportunities rather than problems
  • strengths rather than weaknesses
  • what can be done rather what can’t be done

It applies this thinking in three realms:

  1. ourselves – it looks at our strengths and what we can do
  2. others – it looks at their strengths and what they can do for us, how they can help us
  3. situations – what’s good about them and the benefits they provide

The way we think is reflected in our internal dialogues, the language we use, the questions we ask ourselves and the answers we give. ABT focuses on these dialogues and seeks to change them, and in doing so, to change negative or deficit-based thinking into something more positive and enabling.

For example, these are some ABT ‘corrections’ to deficit-based thinking:

Don’t say ‘that’s impossible.’ Ask ‘what is possible?’
Don’t say ‘oh no, not that again!’ Say ‘it could be better, but I’ve seen this before.’
Don’t say ‘whose fault is that?’ Say ‘what’s done is done, move on.’
Don’t say ‘I’ll never get this done.’ Say ‘this could take longer than expected.’
Don’t say ‘what’s wrong with me?’ Ask ‘what am I learning?’
Don’t say ‘I always get it wrong.’ Say ‘I didn’t get it right last time, but I’ve learnt.’
Don’t say ‘that’ll never change.’ Ask ‘how can I get around this?’
Don’t say ‘he’s out of his mind.’ Ask ‘what makes him tick?’

For more information check out, for a complete guide to ABT, including practical tips and ‘work outs’ see Kathryn D. Kramer and Hank Wasiak, Change The Way You See Everything Through Asset-based Thinking, Running Press, 2006.

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