Many of us are exposed to the idea of strengths and weaknesses. So when I was first exposed to the idea of using strengths, it didn’t seem like something new.
However taking some strengths diagnostic surveys and seeing the strengths laid out clearly in print, did make it more real for me. Some things were confirmed. Some strengths which I didn’t know had a name were named. I felt “seen”. And then using the strengths consciously brought more positive results. So I became a strengths practitioner.
I’m more consciously using my strengths now, and also enjoying spotting strengths in others.
Take this card below. Now when I see things, I am more connected to the human spirit behind their making. It’s a wonderful exercise in connecting with what’s beautiful in people, including those I may never meet.
What is a Strength?
One of the strengths tools I use is Realise2, which has a nuanced approach to strengths. Alot of the time, if I were to ask you what a strength is, you might say it’s something you’re good at. Well, according to this model, that’s only half correct. A strength is something you’re good at AND which energises you.
And when we use our strengths wisely, we’re happier, have less stress, are more likely to achieve our goals, are more confident and energetic, and perform better at work.
What if you’re good at something but it doesn’t energise you?
If you’re good at something and it de-energises you, we call it a learned behaviour, and something we could encourage you to moderate use of so that you can reduce stress. I particularly find this a really useful thing to know so we can prevent burnout.
Does this mean we forget about weaknesses?
No, I remember Dr Robert Biswas-Diener (a leading positive psychologist) saying that we need to make sure there’s no “hole in the ship”. The ship may have many strengths but if it has a hole, it will sink! It’s important to deal with weaknesses that trip us up big time.
However what the strengths advocates mean is that when we focus more on using our strengths, we get more out of life.
Here’s the Realise2 model.
How I’ve gained from being aware of my and others’ strengths
I had an unexpected positive side benefit that came from using both Realise2 and the VIA Character Survey. I developed greater acceptance of areas I’m not strong in. I learnt to feel more compassionate towards my imperfections and less developed areas, instead of feeling bad about them.
Learning about strengths has given me a balanced view of people. While I had learnt to feel more compassion for people because I realised everyone has struggles, I had not fully seen that everyone has strengths. And when we focus on this side of them, we could help it flourish more.
I have found this whole strengths journey to be an wonderful exercise in authenticity. We learn to embrace who we are.
Learn about your strengths
Via Character Survey shows you your character strengths. (There’s a free abbreviated version).
Realise2 shows you your communication, thinking, driving, relating and being strengths.
If you are part of an organisation, learn about the business case for strengths and more about why strengths matter. (And if you’re interested to chat about bringing strengths to your workplace, please contact me at vadivu[at]joyworks.sg)
- Strengths can be overused. It takes wisdom to use the right strength at the right time with the right person. More is not necessarily better!
- People change so your strengths are not cast in stone. Realise2, for example, is meant to be taken every six months.
Blog – Quite a Character by Dr Neal Mayerson, founder and Chairman of the VIA Institute of Character
Blog by Alex Linley, founder of the Centre for Applied Positive Psychology
Related: Scammed – Late in 2011, I was the survivor of a scam. In my email to the person who scammed me, I reflected the strengths I saw in him/her and added a link to a video on how someone turned his life arrund by using his strengths.