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Sensei Natural Abilities 

SENSEI NATURAL ABILITIES is an assessment tool to identify abilities we are born with, with the intention of getting ourselves and our teams into natural-ability areas to achieve spectacular success. 

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Natural Abilities described by the creator of the assessment: Ranjan De Silva

The Concept

Our natural abilities make us capable of being highly productive and creative people. The natural abilities are specific qualities of our personal, instinctive strengths. Identifying and getting into the ‘Natural Ability’ arena enables spectacular success as we enjoy such work, are naturally talented in it, are deeply interested to learn more about such work and care enough to improve the way we do such work. Organisations who understand this, hire people for their natural abilities and provide job responsibilities to suit natural abilities and enjoy a high level of success due to the extremely high level of engagement. 

Natural-Abilities give us a Natural Advantage

Once we are in our Natural Ability area, we can liberate ourselves from the stress of working against the grain. Natural Abilities highlight how you need to get things done - and how you need to avoid trying to act because it just won't work well for you. They have nothing to do with learned behaviours, stemming from the knowledge-based cognitive part of the mind. We all know people with the skills and intelligence to do something, yet they just don't do it well. Natural Ability results also have nothing to do with our personality or social style. People prefer to act one way, yet perform entirely differently when challenged.

Natural Abilities are In-Born

A natural ability stands at the top of the hierarchy of abilities as given below;

  1. Natural-ability area

  2. Excellent area

  3. Learnt ability area

  4. Inability area


We are able to convert ‘inability areas’ in to ‘learnt-ability areas’ and ‘excellent areas’ through education, training and experiences. However, we are born with natural abilities, they are already present in us and could be liberated through relevant guidance and practice.

How is the Sensei Natural Abilities Assessment Distinct?
The Three Mental Activities

Philosophers and psychologists share the concept of the three mental activities that helps us make sense, learn, decide, act etc. They are thinking (cognitive), feeling (affective), and doing (conative). The conative part contains the natural instincts that drive us to act. It is also known as the modus operandi (M.O.). This is the unique set of natural abilities we have at birth and remain largely unchanged during our lifetime. We have a distinct mix of conative energy for engaging, cognitive energy for thinking and affective energy for feeling, to produce purposeful action. 


  • The cognitive (thinking) part is concerned with IQ, skills, reason, knowledge, experience and education.

  • The affective (feeling) part is concerned with desires, motivation, attitudes, preferences, emotions, and values.

  • The conative (doing) part is concerned with drive, necessity, innate force, instinct, mental energy and talents.

Assessing the Three Mental Activities

While there are many assessment tools for cognitive and affective mental activities, diagnostic tools available for conative assessments are rare. Here are some examples:


  • Cognitive assessments such as TOEFL and IELTS evaluate intelligence and what we have learned. It assesses knowledge, skills and our ability to remember and understand. 

  • Affective assessments are personality tests such as Myers Briggs Type Indicator, Predictive Index and DiSC, which evaluate our social and cultural preferences, how we feel and what interests us.

  • Conative assessments such as the Kolbe Indexes and the Sensei Natural-Abilities assessment evaluates natural abilities, and instinctive talents we were born with, and identify the way we act and behave. 

The Four Common ‘Natural Abilities’ 

Unlike learned behaviour and social style, it is instinctive. The Natural Ability concept stems from the discovery of four creative instincts through which we initiate all action. Each produces a distinctive cluster of behaviours or preferred mode of working. All goal-oriented action is initiated through one of these modes. Everyone has equal conative energy, yet individual intensity in any one mode may vary. These variances give you your distinctive talent. The four natural abilities we have encountered during our people and organization transformation practice are:

Benefits of Knowing our Natural Abilities
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Natural Ability #1:
Idea Seeker

Idea seekers are catalysts, generalists, innovators, entrepreneurs, promoters, or impressionists. 


Idea seekers thrive in jobs that require generation of new ideas, creativity, innovation, performance, entertaining, keynote speaking etc.

Natural Ability #2: Information Seeker

An information seeker is a pragmatist, prober, arbitrator, practitioner, researcher, judge, or realist.


Information seekers thrive in jobs that require research, collection of information, investigation, evaluation, analysis of information and justification of the realistic nature of new ideas presented by idea seekers. 

Natural Ability #3:
Action Seeker 

Action seekers are manufacturers, moulders, builders, handcrafters, weavers, agriculturists, or handlers.


Action seekers thrive in jobs that require selling, making, constructing, technology applications, marketing campaigns, communicating action, organizing resources and teams to execute new ideas from idea seekers, which have been justified and developed into workable plans by the information seekers.  

Natural Ability #4: Sustainability Seeker 

Sustainability seekers are planners, designers, programmers, theorists, systemisers, or pattern makers.


Sustainability seekers thrive in jobs that require ensuring sustainability through; setting standards, developing systems, designing processes, developing software, developing theories and developing processes. The intention is to ensure that new ideas from idea seekers that have been justified, developed into workable plans by the information seekers and executed by action seekers are sustained.


The Natural Abilities assessment is one of the few ways of validating instinct-based actions. It is unique from any other mental measurement you may have taken because there truly are no right or wrong, good or bad answers/results, and no biases by gender, age, or race. It will not – nor could it – tell you how you need to change, although it does tell you how to change from low-score ability arenas you may currently be in, to high-score ability arenas. 


How to use the report
For Individual Contributors:
  • To understand your natural ability and select education, development and career options to suit. E.g.: if you are an ‘idea seeker’ you may want to pursue education and careers in innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship.

  • To analyse performance considering your natural ability and your responsibility to understand root causes for performance gaps and take appropriate corrective action. 

For Organizations:  
  • To assess natural abilities of candidates for better recruitment, placement and promotion decisions by matching with natural abilities required for the job.

  • To ensure teams are formed with team members having the right natural-ability mix to suit the scope and objectives of the team.

  • To assess natural abilities of team members to identify root causes of business issues and make effective people and/or organizational development decisions such as role allocation, job switching, re-organization, coaching, mentoring and training.  

How to respond to the assessment results 

Our Natural Ability result, our MO (Mode of Operation), is perfect for us.

It is not necessary to be anything other than who we are to achieve our highest goals. Our personal set of striving instincts gives us the power to do what must get done. To be successful, we don't need to attempt to change the ratings on the Natural Ability assessments through training and development, but we need to find ways of ‘being’ and ‘doing’ in line with our results. The Natural Ability assessment gives us information about our natural abilities. It also highlights our responsibility to put our talents to work for the shared purposes of those with whom we make commitments.

The Sensei Natural Abilities Assessment

The Sensei assessments are easy to take. Respondents need to select the most likely and least likely option from the 4 options provided for various conative situations. 36 such situations would be offered for respondents to reflect on and select. The test could be completed in about 30 minutes, and the time taken could vary, depending on how fast respondents select their responses. Sensei uses adaptive testing to ensure the practical relevance of results.

Sample of the questionnaire

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The Sensei Natural Abilities Brief Report – Free

We are pleased to offer you the Sensei Natural-Abilities Brief Report free of charge. Given below is a sample of the brief report.

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The Sensei Natural Abilities Assessment Comprehensive Report – at a Nominal Fee

If you would like to know more about your natural abilities, you could get a Sensei Natural-Abilities comprehensive report at a nominal fee. Please click here to download a sample report to examine the format of information that will be available to you.


Knowing our natural abilities helps us to trust our instincts

Knowing our natural abilities will help us to trust our instinctive talent. It will not only get more done, but the result will be more effective, because our natural ability creates a driving force that makes us operate passionately when doing work related to our in-born instincts and talents. 


Knowing our natural abilities helps us to use time and energy productively

When we are in our natural ability arena of work, we are engaged, we enjoy and we are immersed in our work. This creates psychic energy which keeps building up as we work, rather than diminishing. It reduces or eliminates our mind wandering into other thoughts or the need to take breaks to refresh our mind as the work itself refreshes our mind. As such, knowing and being in our natural ability areas helps us to use our time and energy more productively. 


Knowing our natural abilities helps to improve our communication effectiveness

Our natural abilities make us communicate or receive communication in different ways. Idea Seekers like to present with a few bullet points in mind without audio visual aids. They connect with audiences and customize their presentations to suit. Information Seekers like to ask questions, listen to ideas and present relevant information. Action Seekers like to get the audience on their feet and engage them in interactive communication. Sustainability Seekers like to use models, concepts, theories and formulas that have worked and that they think will be useful in sustaining standards.   The receivers of communications would also have similar preferences based on their natural abilities. Therefore, knowing our own and the receivers’ natural abilities helps in customising communication to make it more effective. 


Knowing our natural abilities helps to avoid/reduce stress

Conative stress gets created when there is conflict that arises from interactions between two people with significantly differing intensities within a common natural ability, strain that is created by the unrealistic expectations of others, that make you act differently to your natural ability, and tension that stems from another person requiring us to function outside of our natural ability.


It is possible to respect someone else's methodology without adopting it ourselves. Conflicts can be turned into synergistic effort by not trying to change each other, by having a sense of humour about differing approaches, and by staying true to ourselves whilst understanding and respecting the other person's natural ability. Success for an individual is defined as the freedom to act within his/her natural ability. Success in a team situation or personal relationship stems from understanding each other’s natural abilities, accepting them and finding synergy rather than trying to change the other person. 


Knowing our natural abilities helps to know our ‘will’ and ‘won’t’

The conative part of our mind is our striving mechanism, our will or the effort we make to reach goals. When we act on our thoughts or feelings, our conative will is engaged. It's not enough to want something or know it needs to be done. We must act by enlisting and channelling our conative will and the allocation of our creativity. How we will succeed is instinctive. Knowing our natural-ability helps us to determine why, when, where, what and with whom we will use this talent. 

Who Created Sensei Assessments?

Ranjan De Silva, Senior Management Consultant of Sensei International, critically examined various assessments in response to the needs that arose during his leadership development work over the past 20 years and customised and/or developed it to suit the practical realities of his clients. The Sensei assessments has been developed by Ranjan to help clients understand conative, cognitive, and affective aspects of leadership to help them in developing themselves and their teams as a part of Sensei International’s leadership development practice.

  • For a deeper exploration, we invite you to invest in a comprehensive report for only US$ 15. You may first take the free assessment and decide if you would like to invest in the comprehensive report. The link to the comprehensive report will be provided once you complete the assessment and receive the free report. 

  • You could repeat the assessment once, free of charge. Please follow the instructions in the email you receive with the comprehensive report if you need to repeat the assessment.

  • Please click here, If you have more than 10 participants to assess and develop in your organization.

  • Please click here, If you would like to recommend this assessment to family, friends or colleagues - we will send them a link through email. 

Further notes

Thank you for using Sensei Assessments.

We wish you all success! 

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