Today’s focus is on strengths resources. What are strengths and where can you learn more about them? The terms strengths, signature strengths, and core strengths are often used interchangeably. So what are strengths?
What Are Signature Strengths?
Strengths are your best assets, your best skills, your top characteristics. They’re what makes you, you. When other people who know you well think of you, they think of your strengths. Your strengths give you energy. When you use them you’re energetic, enthusiastic, competent, and happy. What’s not to like?
I first learned of signature strengths when reading Dr. Martin Seligman’s groundbreaking book, Authentic Happiness. Seligman is generally credited with being the spark behind Positive Psychology, the study of healthful, positive, happy lives. It’s still a good book worthy of reading and re-reading.
Discovering Your Signature Strengths
If you have only a general awareness of your strengths and are eager to learn more; such as how to maximize your productivity, the VIA Questionnaire is the first place to go. This is a non-commercial research site which offers many free assessments of personality. Sign up (it’s free) for the VIA character survey, respond to the questions and you’ll receive your results.
Seligman’s Authentic Happiness describes the strengths in great detail along with examples and supporting information.
Other Strengths Experts
Another great source of strengths information is the work of positive psychologist, Alex Linley, and his book The Strengths Book. Linley’s strengths research provides a broader, more comprehensive view of who you are and what makes you the unique human you are. I recommend reading both books and taking both surveys for the most complete information about yourself. Linley’s site is here.
While the VIA survey is free, Linley is currently charging twenty pounds British, about twenty eight dollars. Linley’s survey provides you with some sixty characteristics, arranged into four categories. Of great interest is the category of Learned Behaviors.
These are things we’ve learned to be very good at doing, because of necessity in our jobs and lives, but at great expense. While strengths give us energy when we use them, learned behaviors are energy drains. Use of these should be minimized, but since we use them so often we don’t realize they’re draining us. Linley’s report can help identify these.
The following two posts suggest how we can utilize strengths when planning a career change or building a personal growth plan.