It’s been delayed gratification all semester. We’ve been discussing the VIA character strengths probably since September, but have gotten precious little in-depth information or training on the subject. As a Gallup Strengths Coach, this is like putting home baked cookies in front of a three-year old but telling her she can’t have any. Ever.
Today we had the privilege of having Ryan Niemiec from the VIA Institute come teach us about character strengths. VIA strengths differ from the Clifton StrengthsFinders in that there are 24 character strengths that comprise human virtues. The strengths fall into six core themes: wisdom, courage, temperance, humanity, transcendence and justice. Like the CSF strengths, building character strengths promotes engagement and satisfaction at work; using strengths is fulfilling and satisfying. Empirical research also shows that using our highest character strengths, or our signature strengths, improve well-being, life satisfaction and symptoms of depression.
And the test is free. Go to authentichappiness.org and take the test! How cool is that?
Finding new ways to improve upon our signature strengths was easier for some strengths than others. We asked others to rate what they thought our signature strengths were. Where strengths list coincide, we’re using our strengths well and transparently. Where strengths are going unnoticed, we can work to improve their use so they are more apparent to others. For example, I learned, though high in gratitude, if I mix-up the ways I express my gratitude, I could be more effective in sharing this life satisfaction-inducing strength with others.
But what I found most interesting was my character strength blind spots. In this case, my classmates pointed out strengths that I was unaware of. My classmates indicated that they thought I was high on self-regulation and leadership, whereas I ranked myself fairly low. I guess I could reflect upon the reason for the discrepancy, or even better, just focus on trying to enhance and optimize those strengths. Given I have a self-regulation strength it should be fairly easy for me to integrate and adopt those changes.
Now, isn’t it nice to learn new ways you are appreciated and ways in which you can improve, simultaneously?