Focusing on Character Strengths

“We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think.” —Gautama Buddha

VIAFor decades professionals have placed a heavy emphasis on trying to improve weaknesses with the hope that these weaknesses would become strengths in the future. But what if shifting your thoughts and focus to working on your strengths, instead of placing an over-emphasis on your weaknesses, could make you even more productive and effective? It turns out a vast amount of research suggests that an emphasis on unique talents and strengths will make employees more engaged and productive.

There are many factors that make up who we are: our interests, values, personality and skills. As of 2004, a lot of attention has been given to positive psychology and developing character strengths as it relates to living a more meaningful, successful and happy life. Many people have heard of Gallup StrengthsFinder, which has been a pioneer in the strengths movement over the last couple decades, helping people to make a shift in how they view themselves and their work. However, another lesser-known tool born out of positive psychology is called VIA (Values in Action) Survey, a free, validated online tool created to measure universal character strengths. Based on research, there are 6 virtues scientists agree lead to a more meaningful life and 24 character strengths were agreed upon as a way to develop specific virtues. In addition to aiding leadership growth, this instrument can help teams and entire organizations positively transform.

Like any other behavior change we are trying to make in life, it’s extremely important to nurture healthy habits and routines that reflect the type of person you are — or want to be — at work and in life. These tools will help you articulate your character strengths and give you language to pull from. This is a great framework that sets out to help us better understand, practice and cultivate our character strengths.

Nikki-Barnett-sizedNikki Barnett
Assistant Director of Alumni Career Services

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