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Mixed Feelings About Your VIA Results? Just Identify Your “Super-Strength”

October 1, 2014 by ·

kidssuperheroViewing your VIA Strengths Survey results can be quite illuminating – more often than not, an unexpected strength or two pops up into your Top 5.  From my own personal experience and observation, people tend to receive these unexpected strengths with mixed feelings.

  • “Why did I get Self-Regulation instead of Zest?  I feel more zestful than self-regulated!”
  • “I wish I had gotten Leadership!  What’s up with this Gratitude strength?  I guess that’s pretty cool though.”
  • “What the heck?!?  I could have sworn I would get Love of Learning, Open-mindedness, and Humor.  Are my jokes really that bad?”

These mixed feelings, if left unresolved, can cause a person to dismiss their VIA results, miss out on potential learning opportunities, or even question their self-identity. So how can we resolve these mixed feelings and reap the full benefits of our VIA results? I offer a simple, yet powerful method:

1)     Identify your “Super-Strength”

2)     Uncover the connections between your other strengths and this one super-strength.

Your “super-strength” is the character strength that truly embodies your unique passion, purpose, and personal vision for what you wish to contribute to the world.

By first identifying this super-strength, you can then move on to finding the connections (obvious or latent) between it and your other strengths. When we clarify the connections between our strengths and our super-strength, we gain deep insights into the most personally relevant pathways to fuel a flourishing life.

Identifying Your Super-Strength:

What is the one character strength in your top 5 that resonates with you the most?

Which strength do you feel most excited about seeing on your top 5 list?

If you could pick only one of your top 5 strengths, which would it be?

For me, the answer to all of these questions was my top VIA strength, Creativity (i.e. originality, ingenuity) – thinking of novel and productive ways to conceptualize and do things.  My other strengths were Curiosity, Honesty, Perspective, and Bravery.  Although I view these other four strengths very favorably, if I could only utilize one for the rest of my life, it would be creativity, no question about it.  If I was a superhero, I would be the Amazing Innovation Man from the planet Imagination, and my arch-nemesis would be Dr. Business-as-Usual.  After all, my purpose here on this planet is to create and help others create.

Finding The Connections Between Your Super-Strength and Other Strengths

The next step to resolving any potential mixed feelings from your VIA Strengths Survey is to uncover how your strengths all relate to your super-strength.

Why is this so important?  What is the point in doing this?  Let me again use my own VIA results as an example.

My second strength is Curiosity – taking an interest in all of ongoing experience, seeking novelty, and being open to experience.  Curiosity has been linked to meaning in life, but what else is curiosity good for? [Insert drum roll].

Creativity of course!  Curiosity is often the spark that leads to groundbreaking creativity and innovation.  It takes novelty-seeking, being open to experience, and being fascinated about how things work (or could work) in the world to bring forth unique ideas.  Curiosity is a strength that is a direct pathway into my super-strength of Creativity.  This means that when I engage in activities and situations that allow me to be curious, I am also leveraging my curiosity towards fueling my super-strength.

My third strength is Honesty (i.e. authenticity, integrity).  Although I definitely view myself as being honest and authentic, I was less enthusiastic about this strength.  Shouldn’t everybody just be honest? It was only until I dug a bit deeper to find the connection to my super-strength did I appreciate having this as one of my strengths. I realized that yes, indeed, this was also a pathway into fueling my creativity.

You cannot truly be creative and original if you are not honest about your own abilities, knowledge, and personal limitations.  A big part of creativity is the ability to not only leverage your talents and strengths, but to also work with (or around) your own constraints.  For example, in 1928 an outstanding guitarist named Django Reinhardt was badly injured in a fire; his ring and pinky finger were paralyzed as a result of being severely burned.  These fingers are typically crucial for being able to articulate melodies and chords; however, Django embraced his limitations, practiced profusely, and as a result of his handicap developed one of the most distinctive guitar styles in the history.

My fourth strength is Perspective (i.e. wisdom) – having a way of looking at the world that makes sense to others and myself.  Creativity is not only about generating wild and crazy ideas.  These novel ideas must be useful or appropriate to others in some way.   By exercising my Perspective strength, I can more effectively connect my creative work with the goals and interests of others, thus increasing the likelihood that others will accept my ideas and view them as being useful.

My fifth strength is Bravery – being courageous and not shrinking from threat, challenge, difficulty, or opposition.  Aside from just feeling more manly and tough from seeing this strength on my VIA results, it actually is critical for my Creativity super-strength.  Creativity, much like Bravery, involves going against the status quo.  Without the bravery and courage to share my against-the-norm ideas, my creative potential will never be fully realized.  Bravery is the channel through which my creativity can become translated into actual innovation in the world.

Summing Things Up          

If you are interested in living a life full of optimal experiences, take a moment to identify your super-strength.  Next, take another moment or two and reflect upon the ways that your other strengths connect with it. This two step process can help re-frame those unexpected or unwanted strengths of yours into positive pathways that fuel your overarching super-strength, and provide a nice boost in your positive self-identity.

So, what is your super-strength? And how are your VIA results connected with it?

– Jeff Fajans is a PhD student at Claremont Graduate University studying Positive Organizational Psychology.  He attempts to best leverage his character strengths by researching ways to help others become more creative and innovative in their work.  Visit his blog to read more about his research and ideas on creativity & innovation, learning & development, and positive psychology.

jeff fajans2


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