Being human, we all have strengths within ourselves. Those strengths are our greatest assets. Nurturing them has been proven to not only energize us to learn and reach for our goals, but also to lead us toward a happier, more satisfying life. However, we may not even be aware of what they are and even more likely we may not proactively engage ourselves in exercises to heighten those assets.
The VIA Institute on Character is a Cincinnati-based nonprofit organization with a global scope of empowering people through the advancement of the science and practice of character strengths. Their aim is to fill the world with virture.
One very important way they do this is by offering their VIA survey free of charge across the globe – and since VIA’s inception in 2001, more than 2 million people in 193 countries and 17 languages have taken it. (There is also a survey for youth.) Professionals can use the survey to learn more about their clients or employees.
I highly recommend setting aside 30 minutes to take the 240 question survey. You will be given a free personalized description of your 24 strengths in their order of importance to you, as well as some suggestions for flexing your strength muscles. For an additional $20, you can receive an indepth VIA Pathways Report that shares much greater information on exploring and using your strengths. There are additional resources on the VIA website. There are additional free and paid resources on the VIA website – and on the new VIA blog – to help you nurture your strengths. They offer courses too for individuals and professionals whose work is focused on bringing out the best in others.
According to the VIA survey results, I actually have 7 signature strengths (highest rated strengths) because I have numerous score ties. They include: Honesty, Kindness, Leadership, Perspective, Humor, Appreciation of Beauty and Excellence, and Fairness.
I can see so many of my life choices wrapped up inside these seven virtues. Much of my career has been focused on communicating to inspire positive change in individuals, organizations, communities and even pets. Both my Good Things Going Around blog project and my So Much PETential pet training have to do with bringing out the best in others.
Ironically, just this past spring I spent a lot of time developing my personal, professional ‘brand’ (with great thanks to T.J. Budd and Tessa O’Neal from Centennial, Inc.). This is what I came up with:
I guide organizations to communicate their core mission and brand with integrity and resolve, telling their story strategically and compellingly. An out-of-the-box thinker, I thrive on developing creative tactical ideas for raising awareness, educating constituents, and building consensus around communication goals. When it comes to relationships, I enjoy being both a leader and a team player, supporting the strengths of others.
My pet training brand (which I am still tweaking) is:
I believe training is not just about modifying behaviors and teaching skills, it is also about enhancing quality of life for our pets. In my quest to have well mannered pets, I began studying the science of animal behavior and positive reinforcement strategies over 12 years ago; and I can’t stop learning. My behavior change strategies blend science with kindness, integrity, creativity and fun. Seeing how that approach has not only set myself and my pets up for success, but also strengthened our relationship, is the driving force behind my passion for educating and helping others achieve similar outcomes.
Wow, I can absolutely see how my VIA strengths are an integral role in all that I do. And by my focusing on them it has led me to make career choices that are very satisfying for me.
I’m excited to say that my latest career path – is working with VIA! As a contractor, I am part of the communication team with two very positive, motivating people – Kelly Aluise and Breta Cooper – and I am working on telling their story through social media. I’d love it if you’d follow us on Facebook, Twitter, or Google+, AND please stop by the all new VIA blog that I am managing.
This is absolutely the stuff I thrive on!
It is so easy for us in life to focus on our own and other’s shortcomings, and when times are difficult to lose sight of those virtues that give us the capacity for greatness. However, by shifting our focus instead toward those virtues of strength an amazing and beautiful transformation can happen. We grow and prosper in new, meaningful ways. Our life is so much more satisfying.
I am choosing to focus on nurturing my VIA strengths. How about you?