Week One: Let's get to it!
Welcome, great to have you along. There's quite a little crew of us playing along with this first 'Who are you?' series and I'm super excited to be kicking it off today.
Firstly, if you've just stumbled across this you might like to read up on what we're doing here then what's to come will make a lot more sense.
This week we're exploring our strengths. In positive psychology your strengths are your built-in capacity for certain thoughts, feelings and behaviour that help you in life. They are the ways in which we're wired up to think, feel and behave that make life a little easier, a little more fun or a little better for those around us. We tend to enjoy using our strengths, using them comes easily to us and we're good at it. Often our strengths come so naturally that we don't even recognise them.
If you're a really organised person, for example, this is a strength (sometimes it can be a challenge too, strengths tend to have a dark side but that's not something for today). If you're an organised person you can probably find stuff easily, be on time, can be relied upon by others, can get projects up and running, you're good with routine and you're good at establishing new habits. Like everything to do with humans being organised exists on a spectrum, it's not all or nothing, but for some people being highly organised comes more naturally than for others.
Strengths are not just about 'doing' things either. One of my strengths is 'perspective'. Perspective is all about being able to see issues from number of different angles. To see the ins and outs, the pros and cons, the upsides and downsides. It's a 'thinking' strength. People who are a strong on perspective tend to be good at analysing information and seeing both sides of an argument. Again, it has its challenges - nothing is ever black and white in my world - but it helps in many ways too.
There are also 'feeling' type strengths such as empathy, forgiveness and kindness.
How do we figure out our strengths?
The first and easiest thing to do - and this is your homework task for the week - is to sit down for a few minutes, think about the words that best describe you and note them down in your notebook, spreadsheet, large piece of butchers paper or wherever you've decided to build your 'Who am I?' profile (one lovely blogger is even using her blog for this purpose).
Think about how you behave (what you do - at home, at work, as a parent, as a friend), how you think (are you an enthusiastic ideas person? an ordered, logical person? a passionate, emotional person?) and how you feel (towards yourself, towards others, about life generally). Focus on things that:
- come easily to you
- that you tend to do well and
- that you mostly enjoy doing.
Remember, you can't get this wrong. It really doesn't matter what you write down, as long as you write something. This is only the beginning. We can refine, expand and explore more later.
You might like to take a look at this list of possible strengths (it's a bit work oriented but quite comprehensive).
And if you're really keen you can take the free VIA (Values in Action) Character Strengths Questionnaire. This is the gold standard for strengths in positive psychology but I sometimes find it difficult to make their values practical. Still worth checking out if you haven't already and don't worry, it's legit. Not one of those dodgy-brothers internet questionnaires :-)
Finally, because our strengths can sometimes be so intrinsic that we can't see them ourselves, try asking someone who knows you well how they would describe you in a word or two. Good friends and close colleagues can be great for this. (You might even think back to work reviews or school reports). Family members and partners can sometimes give you a bit of a skewed perspective; 'annoying,' 'gorgeous,' 'ice queen' or 'endlessly frustrating' are not helpful descriptions for our purpose.
Here's my list (still a work in progress). I'm keen to hear about yours!