When you think about your child’s strengths, what comes to mind?
For years, many parents have wrongly believed that spotting talent in their children means they are destined for success. While talent is certainly helpful (when nurtured the right way) it actually shows no direct link to success. What is really important when it comes to success and happiness is spotting our strengths and using our strengths every-day, particularly when it comes to our career.
The science part:
As human beings, we each have 24 character strengths. These strengths are consistent across all cultures, all ages and provide a universal classification of the strengths that make us who we are. Ordered in a unique way for each individual these strengths inform us as to the things that we are best at. The strengths are ordered into 6 virtues and are outlined below.
Why strengths matter when it comes to work
When it comes to choosing a career, the way a role enables us to use our strengths matters. As people who go to work and use their strengths every day, experience far more engagement and satisfaction than those who don’t.
Have a read through the strengths below and begin to think about your own strengths as well as the strengths you might see in your children. By beginning to understand our top strengths we can start to think about whether different careers and opportunities will enable us to flourish or flounder.
Discover your strengths
Once you’ve taken some time to think about which strengths are on the top of your list and your children’s, you can complete a free questionnaire to find out how well you know yourself (and them!). Go to www.viacharacter.org to discover your unique constellation and start thinking about whether you are using your strengths, and if not how you can use them even more.
The 24 Character Strengths
1. Wisdom and Knowledge – these are cognitive strengths that entail the acquisition and use of knowledge
a. Creativity: Thinking of novel and productive ways to conceptualise and do things. Includes artistic achievement but is not limited to it.
b. Curiosity: Taking an interest in ongoing experience for its own sake, finding subjects and topics fascinating; exploring and discovering
c. Open mindedness: Thinking things through and examining them from all sides
d. Love of learning: Mastering new skills, topics and bodies of knowledge, whether on one’s own or formally
e. Perspective: Being able to provide wise counsel to others; having ways of looking at the world which make sense to oneself and others
2. Courage – emotional strengths that involve the exercise of will to accomplish goals in the face of opposition, external or internal.
a. Bravery: Not shrinking from threat, challenge, difficulty or pain. Speaking up for what is right even if it’s unpopular.
b. Persistence: Finishing what one starts, persisting despite obstacles and taking pleasure in achieving tasks.
c. Integrity: Speaking the truth but more broadly presenting oneself in a genuine way and acting sincere.
d. Vitality: Approaching life with excitement and energy. Not doing things half way or half heartedly living life as an adventure.
3. Humanity – interpersonal strengths that involve tending and befriending others.
a. Love: Valuing close relations with others, in particular those in which sharing and caring are reciprocated.
b. Kindness: Doing favours and good deeds for others
c. Social intelligence: Being aware of the motives and feelings of other people and oneself; knowing what to do to fit into different social situations.
4. Justice – Civic strengths that underlie healthy community life.
a. Citizenship: Working well as a member of a group or team, being loyal to the group.
b. Fairness: Treating all people the same according to notions of fairness and justice and not letting personal feelings bias decisions.
c. Leadership: Encouraging a group of which one is a member to get things done and at the same time maintaining good relationships.
5. Temperance – Strengths that protect again excess
a. Forgiveness and mercy: Forgiving those who have done wrong and accepting the short comings of others
b. Humility and modesty: Letting one’s accomplishments speak for themselves, not seeking the spotlight.
c. Prudence: Being careful about one’s choices, not taking undue risks
d. Self-regulation: Regulating what one feels and does, being disciplined and controlling one’s appetites and emotions.
6. Transcendence – Strengths that forge connections with the larger universe and provide meaning
a. Appreciation of beauty and excellence: Noticing and appreciating beauty and excellence and/or skilled performance in various domains of life
b. Gratitude: Being aware of and thankful for the good things that happen
c. Hope: Expecting the best in the future and working to achieve it
d. Humour: Liking to laugh and tease, bringing smiles to other people and seeing the light side
e. Spirituality: having coherent beliefs about the higher purpose and meaning of the universe, knowing where one fits within the larger scheme.