Soar with your Character Strengths P2

When leveraged our Character and Talent Strengths can propel our performance, increase our energy, improve our well-being, improve our relationships, increase our positive emotion and decrease our stress. They can help you #bringoutyourbestself!

Character Strengths

Where did they come from? It all began with a question from Neal Mayerson to Martin Seligman, “Can we hold hope that positive psychology will be able to help people evolve toward their highest potential?” There was a growing movement away from traditional psychology with the focus on disease to a focus on people’s strengths, highest potential, aspirations and well-being. The Mayerson Foundation created Values in Action (VIA) and Martin Seligman, Christopher Peterson and a team of prestigious researchers set out to research and develop a validated classification system of character strengths and virtues. (Peterson, Seligman, 2004 p. i)

What are they? Seligman says that strengths are moral traits that we can develop, learn and adopt (Seligman 2002, p. 134). For instance, gratitude wasn’t a top strength my mine but I started doing the gratitude journaling every night and then the next time I took the survey a year or so later there it was!

There are 24 Character Strengths that sit with 6 virtues. They are positive individual traits. The six virtues and an example of a strength include:

  • Wisdom and Knowledge e.g. Creativity

  • Courage e.g. Vitality (Zest)

  • Humanity e.g. Kindness

  • Justice e.g. Fairness

  • Temperance e.g. Self-Regulation

  • Transcendence e.g. Hope

For a full list and their definitions see VIA. When you take the VIA survey, you will be provided with your top five strengths. As I noted above, Character Strengths are not fixed, you can grow them, develop both your existing and desired strengths, and they may change across your life-span.

We know when we use our strengths, it can increase our positive affect; meaning you’ll see an increase in your positive moods (e.g. joy, hope, awe etc).

Why should we use them? You should use your strengths in order to propel your (and others) performance, increase your (and others) energy, increase your positive emotion and improve relationships with others. In essence, make your life better! We have several times more potential for growth when we focus on our strengths rather than our weaknesses.

Who should use them? Individuals, team and organisations!

How can I find my Character Strengths? For a full list of the character strengths to take the survey go to VIA Survey.

How can I leverage them? I suggest using these three simple steps:

Identify them: Take the VIA Survey

Use them:Think about how you currently use your strengths. If you were to use them more in the same way, what would happen? How else could you use them?

Develop them: For one week, choose a strength and use it in a different way each day to see what happens. Across five weeks you could go through your top five! For instance, one of my strengths is kindness and I recently developed a program for children on kindness and delivered it at our local Kinder. I loved doing the research on kindness and seeing how the children responded made my heart overflow with joy.

To learn more about Talent Strengths, click here.

Note for Organisations

When leveraged strengths can propel employee’s performance, increase their energy, improve their well-being, improve their relationships, increase their positive emotions, decrease their stress AND improve their job satisfaction.

If you help your employees identify and utilise their strengths it can help them and help your organisation Thrive. Looking to implement strengths into the way you work? Call me on 0409 444 875.

To learn more about how you or your organisation can leverage strengths to improve performance, click here.


Peterson, C & Seligman, M (2004). Character Strengths and Virtues: A Handbook and Classification. New York. Oxford Press.

Rath, T. (2007). Strengths Finder 2.0. New York. Gallup Press.

Seligman, M (2002). Authentic Happiness: Using the New Positive Psychology to Realize Your Potential for Lasting Fulfillment. New York, NY: Free Press.

Snyder, C.R. & Lopez, S. & Teramoto Pedrotti, J. (2011). Positive Psychology: The Scientific and Practical Explorations of Human Strengths. London. Sage Publications.