Discover Your Strengths

Many of us grew up in a critical environment and a society which looks at what we don’t shine in compared to what we do. And we do that to ourselves to. Scientists calls this a “negativity bias”. It means we are built to look for what may cause us harm. It’s a protective mechanism.

However we don’t always need to use this mechanism. It’s possible to look at what’s working; what’s beautiful in us and others and make best use of that.

Having personally benefitted from learning about my strengths, I became a strengths practitioner and now strongly recommend people to learn about their strengths. It’s one of the most important ways of discovering your Calling in life.

I recommend taking the premium version of Realise2, a strengths survey.  It shows five families of strengths – thinking, relating, motivating, being and communicating. To supplement that, I’d recommend the VIA Character Survey, which shows you your character strengths. Having a debrief done with a strengths practitioner is really much more useful that doing the test and interpreting results yourself. But in case you don’t do the debrief, here are some notes to support you.

  • Familiairise yourself with how Realise2 works. The notes below will only make sense if you do this first.
  • If you want clues to discover your Calling, look at the Realised and Unrealised Strengths in your Realise2 results. Which of these really speak to you, and call you to bring more of them into your life and work?
  • Strengths can be overused. More is NOT better. Wisdom researcher Barry Schwartz actually calls Wisdom the master strength because it helps you use the right strength, at the right time with the right person.
  • Do have a look at your learned behaviours to see if any of your strengths had been overused and ended up draining you. Or perhaps a certain strength only drains you in a certain context but could really energise you in another context. For example, technical writing may drain you but creative writing may energise you and could very well be part of you discovering your Calling. So don’t write off learned behaviours completely! It needs careful investigation.
  • While weaknesses are meant to be minimised in the Realise2 model, sometimes a weakness is a “hole in the ship” as Dr Robert Biswas-Diener said in a talk in Singapore. Such weaknesses would of course need to be developed.  For example, if you have Compassion as a weakness, I would certainly encourage you to develop that and not minimise it. There’s lots of research to show that compassionate people are happier.
  • One key difference between Realise2 and VIA is that Realise2 measures how energising it is for you to use a strength whereas VIA doesn’t include this element. So in Realise2, if you are very good at somehting but it drains you, we would call that a “learned behaviour”, not a strength. So when interpreting your VIA results, do ask yourself if your top strengths actually energise you.
  • People change and so will their profiles. In fact, trainers at Realise2 advise that you take Realise2 every six months. (Trainers at VIA say the profile is pretty stable through life except if there are major life events.) If you’re using such surveys to do long term planning or discover your Calling, ask yourself which strengths are pretty stable, and can be part of such long-term planning.

If you think you and your colleagues would benefit from strengths debriefs, learn more about my strengths work at organisations. Contact me at vadivu[at] to explore further.

I also do individual sessions when time permits.

Enjoy using your strengths to be of service to the world! :)


Think you are not biased?

Take a test by Project Implicit,  which comprises a network of laboratories, technicians, and research scientists at Harvard University, the University of Washington, and the University of Virginia. (There is one called “Race”, which is what I took.)

Then think about how your score may affect your decisions -whether they are hiring decisions, who your friends are, who you date, how you serve people from the group you hold a bias against and even who you sit next to on the bus.

Reflections 2010, Intentions 2011

My 2011 intention for myself...What's yours?

Dear Friends,

I am taking a break and starting to reflect on 2010 and set intentions for 2011.

So I thought I would share some questions that might be helpful if you choose to do some reflection too. It’s a long list so you could pick what speaks to your heart the most; space them out or carry them over to next year too. Reflect with trusted friends or relatives and if you do, be gentle and supportive in how you respond to others’ thoughts. Write or make some other physical representation (such as a collage or mind-map) of intentions that emerge. Having something physical to take away from reflection helps me alot.

There’s one question here that is most powerful for me – the last one! If you do just one, I’d recommend that one…


1. Imagine you will completely lose your memory of 2010 in five minutes. Set an alarm for five minutes and capture the things you most want to remember about 2010. (Author: Patti Digh) Source:

2. Who or what was your best discovery in 2010? (Source:

3. What’s the one thing you have come to appreciate most in the past year? How do you express gratitude for it? (Author: Victoria Klein) Source:

To this, I would add – To whom are you most grateful for this year and how can you express that to them? (Source: For an example of a letter of gratitude, see

4. What was the best thing you learned about yourself this past year? And how will you apply that lesson going forward? (Author: Tara Weaver) Source:

5. Who has been the biggest influence on your life? What lessons did that person teach you? (Source:

6. Where have you discovered community, online or otherwise, in 2010? What community would you like to join, create or more deeply connect with in 2011? (Author: Cali Harris) Source:

7. Which virtues did you develop the most in 2010? (Source: For list of virtues, see

8. What should you have done this year but didn’t because you were too scared, worried, unsure, busy or otherwise deterred from doing? (Bonus: Will you do it?) (Author: Jake Nickell) Source:

9. What virtue/s would you like to develop more in 2011?(Source: For list of virtues, see

10. Who can support you in transcending your fear about something that is holding you back from a more joyful life? (Source: Learn about how our dog, Max, overcame his fear of the sea:

11. Who/what would you like to open your heart to more in 2011? (Source:

12. Who do you most need to forgive? (Source: For ideas, see

13. To whom do you need to apologise? (Source:

14. Where is there most imbalance in your life? Where would you like to spend a few more hours a week next year? (Source:

15. Imagine that you will die in exactly one year. How would you live this last year so you can die in peace and in a state of fulfillment, grace and gratitude? Write down what you would do.  If you let it guide you, your life will most likely change in one year in ways you cannot imagine now. ( inspired by Stephen Levine, author of “A Year to Live” and my inspiring former professor at Columbia University, Barbara Becker, who lived like this year was her last.) This past year has been the best year of my life because I also intended to live like I could die at any time. Although I didn’t go through a structured programme and I admit I didn’t always keep to the spirit of it, I’m amazed at my progress. One reason why I mention forgiveness quite a bit on this blog is because I have felt its tremendous power in my life.  

If you forward or post one question on facebook or anywhere else, would be great if you could  forward each question with attribution to the author/source.  This way, your friends might find something on the website of the source that is helpful.



My ever-present intention for Singapore...what's yours?

Heartland Forgiveness Scale

The Heartland Forgiveness Scale shows your general tendency to be forgiving. Quick to do. And I like that it has questions to cover how forgiving we are of ourselves, others and situations.

People who are more forgiving have been found to live healthier lives. Where does your forgiveness level put you in terms of health risks?

Related: Forgiveness

Stress and Well-being Survey

This survey is an easy way to check in on which areas of our lives could do with stress management.

I liked quite a few things about the stress and well-being survey by the Institute of HeartMath. It reminded me to connect with my feelings before answering questions instead of just answering quickly from my head. The questions were all in one page so it looked manageable.  And I liked the coloured bar graphs they used in the results section. I could clearly see which areas of my life have the most and least stress as well as where my strengths in being resilient lie.

(I have not tried HeartMath products so this is not a recommendation for the products they sell.)