Building Character Strengths

Building character strengths is important. That’s because there is an old saying that ‘misery loves company.’ It’s something I’ve observed in too many organisations. I think it’s better to flip it on its head and argue that ‘happiness loves company.’ It’s especially important for entrepreneurs to understand the benefits of building character strengths.

Character Strengths Awareness

The pursuit of a balanced, happy life, is more straightforward once you’ve become aware of your character strengths. It’s a great idea to explore them further, especially your top five ‘signature’ strengths. How are they related to your past achievements, your happiness, your challenges, and difficulties? Most importantly, how are they connected to your relationships?

Exploring your character strengths in this way allows you to understand your identity: what Wilf Jarvis calls your ‘who-ness.’ A lot of the tests out there try and identify your ‘what-ness.’ Do you need to think about how your strengths have shaped you? How will they continue to develop you in the future positively?

Reflective Practice

The best way I know to approach this is as a ‘reflective practitioner.’ Created by Donald Schon, this approach involves regularly reflecting on what you have done to learn from your past actions and to improve on them. For me and many others, this requires journaling, based on discussion with others, self-observation, and observation of others, coupled with solitary reflection. Using your character strengths gives this thinking great structure.

Explore Your Strengths

Dr. Ryan Niemiec of the VIA Institute on Character recommends asking a series of questions as you explore your strengths:

  1. When you consider a time when you were successful, what strengths were you using?

  2. How did each of your signature strengths come into play?

  3. How do you express each of your signature strengths every day? When you imagine the best possible future for yourself, what strengths will you need to bring forth to get there?

  4. What might you need to do differently?

  5. When you think of a time when you were anxious, depressed, or highly stressed, which strengths did you (or could you) use to move forward?

  6. Consider your past or current mentors (or role models). What strengths did they embody?

  7. How did they express them?

  8. What strengths did they see in you?

Remember, to identify your strengths, take the VIA Survey. It’s free, and so are your results.

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