When someone asks you about your top strengths, what do you say? Well it depends, right? If you’re trolling for love, you’ve got a glorious bum & long silky hair. If you’re at a job interview, the right answers are that you’re a hard-working, top grossing-profit-skyrocketing-award-winning phenomenon.
None of those answers explain who you are, even though who you are should be paramount to a new lover or new employer…or just about anyone that would care to get to know you. But how do you go about explaining your best qualities, the building blocks of your character, in 140 characters or less?
Enter the VIA Survey of Character Strengths. It’s a free, scientifically-validated assessment you take online that measures your character strengths, in about 40 minutes. 240 questions later, you get a list of your top five strengths.
My top strength is curiosity and interest in the world. Rounding out my top five are love of learning, appreciation of beauty and excellence, creativity, originality & ingenuity, and fairness, equity and justice.
When I finished the assessment, three of my top five strengths seemed tremendously obvious. My friends and family would say that I am…and have always been…curious, a lifelong learner, and a little wacky-creative….but I’d really never thought of them as strengths. The other two are not thing that people normally describe each other as. But they explain a lot. Like why I’m always the idiot crying at the symphony or the sunset (totally sober), and what exactly it is that draws me to issues of law and social justice…but again, not what I’d think of when asked to name my best traits.
I keep a list of my character strengths in my notebook (next to my awesome list). Whenever I’m facing something tough, I have a little cheat sheet of what I already have in my arsenal to deal with it…my strengths.