What is a strength? Well it’s something we’re good at isn’t it? Well, yes AND no, a strength is more than just something that we’re good at. A strength can also be carrying out a task that comes naturally to us and at the same time provides us with satisfaction when doing so.
I believe that all three areas (being good at something, it coming naturally to us and is satisfying for us) are key to something being a true strength. Where a strength comes naturally to us, we may dismiss it as being something that everyone can do, which may not necessarily be the case. You may know some people who frequently show the strength of gratitude and others who are barely grateful for all that they have. It may be that people persevere until they reach their goals, while others struggle to persist to the end. Just because something comes easily to us doesn’t mean that it isn’t a strength of ours. When carrying out a task that also feels really satisfying for us whilst carrying it out well, can also be a sign that a strength is at play
Research has shown that approximately only 30% of people could name what their strengths are. The field of Positive Psychology is looking to increase this number by have mini-dictionaries of strengths to give people definitions of given strengths. To accompany these mini-dictionaries of strengths, there have been questionnaires developed to help people to ascertain their strengths. The three leading psychological questionnaires are the
VIA Character Strengths Survey(http://www.viacharacter.org/www/#nav )
Gallup’s StrengthsFinder (http://www.strengthsfinder.com/home.aspx ) and CAPP’s
Realise2 (http://www.cappeu.com/Realise2.aspx ).
Each of these has different definitions of strengths and how they are presented and people find that they are drawn to a particular questionnaire that feels right for them.
What I love most about strengths is that we all have them. Each one of us has our own strengths and can apply them in our own unique way. This isn’t to say that we can abandon our weaknesses, more that by focusing more on applying our strengths, we can be more engaged in things we do, have greater well-being and life satisfaction.
One of my favourite quotes is by Peter Drucker, who wrote in the 1960s that “one cannot build on weakness. To achieve results, one has to use all the available strengths…These strengths are the true opportunities”
What are your strengths and distinctive ways of applying them to perform at your best?
The VIA Classification of Character Strengths
Wisdom and Knowledge: Cognitive strengths that entail the acquisition and use of knowledge
Creativity [originality, ingenuity]: Thinking of novel and productive ways to conceptualize and do things; includes artistic achievement but is not limited to it
Curiosity [interest, novelty-seeking, openness to experience]: Taking an interest in ongoing experience for its own sake; finding subjects and topics fascinating; exploring and discovering
Judgment & Open-Mindedness [critical thinking]: Thinking things through and examining them from all sides; not jumping to conclusions; being able to change one’s mind in light of evidence; weighing all evidence fairly
Love of Learning: Mastering new skills, topics, and bodies of knowledge, whether on one’s own or formally; obviously related to the strength of curiosity but goes beyond it to describe the tendency to add systematically to what one knows
Perspective [wisdom]: Being able to provide wise counsel to others; having ways of looking at the world that make sense to oneself and to other people
Courage: Emotional strengths that involve the exercise of will to accomplish goals in the face of opposition, external or internal
Bravery [valour]: Not shrinking from threat, challenge, difficulty, or pain; speaking up for what is right even if there is opposition; acting on convictions even if unpopular; includes physical bravery but is not limited to it
Perseverance [persistence, industriousness]: Finishing what one starts; persisting in a course of action in spite of obstacles; “getting it out the door”; taking pleasure in completing tasks
Honesty [authenticity, integrity]: Speaking the truth but more broadly presenting oneself in a genuine way and acting in a sincere way; being without pretence; taking responsibility for one’s feelings and actions
Zest [vitality, enthusiasm, vigor, energy]: Approaching life with excitement and energy; not doing things halfway or halfheartedly; living life as an adventure; feeling alive and activated
Humanity: Interpersonal strengths that involve tending and befriending others
Capacity to Love and Be Loved: Valuing close relations with others, in particular those in which sharing and caring are reciprocated; being close to people
Kindness [generosity, nurturance, care, compassion, altruistic love, “niceness”]: Doing favours and good deeds for others; helping them; taking care of them
Social Intelligence [emotional intelligence, personal intelligence]: Being aware of the motives and feelings of other people and oneself; knowing what to do to fit into different social situations; knowing what makes other people tick
Justice: Civic strengths that underlie healthy community life
Teamwork [citizenship, social responsibility, loyalty]: Working well as a member of a group or team; being loyal to the group; doing one’s share
Fairness: Treating all people the same according to notions of fairness and justice; not letting personal feelings bias decisions about others; giving everyone a fair chance.
Leadership: Encouraging a group of which one is a member to get things done and at the time maintain time good relations within the group; organising group activities and seeing that they happen.
Temperance: Strengths that protect against excess
Forgiveness & Mercy: Forgiving those who have done wrong; accepting the shortcomings of others; giving people a second chance; not being vengeful
Modesty & Humility: Letting one’s accomplishments speak for themselves; not regarding oneself as more special than one is
Prudence: Being careful about one’s choices; not taking undue risks; not saying or doing things that might later be regretted
Self-Regulation [self-control]: Regulating what one feels and does; being disciplined; controlling one’s appetites and emotions
Transcendence: Strengths that forge connections to the larger universe and provide meaning
Appreciation of Beauty and Excellence [awe, wonder, elevation]: Noticing and appreciating beauty, excellence, and/or skilled performance in various domains of life, from nature to art to mathematics to science to everyday experience
Gratitude: Being aware of and thankful for the good things that happen; taking time to express thanks
Hope [optimism, future-mindedness, future orientation]: Expecting the best in the future and working to achieve it; believing that a good future is something that can be brought about
Humour [playfulness]: Liking to laugh and tease; bringing smiles to other people; seeing the light side; making (not necessarily telling) jokes
Religiousness & Spirituality [faith, purpose]: Having coherent beliefs about the higher purpose and meaning of the universe; knowing where one fits within the larger scheme; having beliefs about the meaning of life that shape conduct and provide comfort.
‘We Are The Positive Psychology People’