I was reading Rarasaur’s latest post this morning, in which she mentioned having recently taken a quiz to assess her character strengths. Hmm, I thought, I am going to be looking for a new job in a few months, so maybe a little insight into my own strengths might be useful ammunition for sprucing up my resumé and answering questions during interviews. The quiz was a painless 15 minutes of clicking radio buttons, rating how accurately specific statements describe me on a scale from one to five. At the end, I got a link to an instant ranking of the character strengths (twenty-four were assessed) I exhibit. Note: I could have dropped $20 to get a 19-page in-depth analysis of each strength and how it manifests itself in my life, or for $40 I could have purchased a complete set of graphs, statistics, and psychobabble suitable for sharing with my coach, therapist, manager, or consultant, along with exercises for further developing each strength. Since I haven’t got a coach, therapist, manager, or consultant, I opted for the free list, displayed below for your entertainment.
Character Strength #1
Appreciation of Beauty & Excellence
You notice and appreciate beauty, excellence, and/or skilled performance in all domains of life, from nature to art to mathematics to science to everyday experience.
Character Strength #2
You are a careful person, and your choices are consistently prudent ones. You do not say or do things that you might later regret.
Character Strength #3
Treating all people fairly is one of your abiding principles. You do not let your personal feelings bias your decisions about other people. You give everyone a chance.
Character Strength #4
You are an honest person, not only by speaking the truth but by living your life in a genuine and authentic way. You are down to earth and without pretense; you are a “real” person.
Character Strength #5
Thinking things through and examining them from all sides are important aspects of who you are. You do not jump to conclusions, and you rely only on solid evidence to make your decisions. You are able to change your mind.
Character Strength #6
You excel at the tasks of leadership: encouraging a group to get things done and preserving harmony within the group by making everyone feel included. You do a good job organizing activities and seeing that they happen.
Character Strength #7
Although you may not think of yourself as wise, your friends hold this view of you. They value your perspective on matters and turn to you for advice. You have a way of looking at the world that makes sense to others and to yourself.
Character Strength #8
You are aware of the good things that happen to you, and you never take them for granted. Your friends and family members know that you are a grateful person because you always take the time to express your thanks.
Character Strength #9
You are aware of the motives and feelings of other people. You know what to do to fit in to different social situations, and you know what to do to put others at ease.
Character Strength #10
You are curious about everything. You are always asking questions, and you find all subjects and topics fascinating. You like exploration and discovery.
Character Strength #11
You forgive those who have done you wrong. You always give people a second chance. Your guiding principle is mercy and not revenge.
Character Strength #12
You are kind and generous to others, and you are never too busy to do a favor. You enjoy doing good deeds for others, even if you do not know them well.
Character Strength #13
You do not seek the spotlight, preferring to let your accomplishments speak for themselves. You do not regard yourself as special, and others recognize and value your modesty.
Character Strength #14
You excel as a member of a group. You are a loyal and dedicated teammate, you always do your share, and you work hard for the success of your group.
Character Strength #15
You value close relations with others, in particular those in which sharing and caring are reciprocated. The people to whom you feel most close are the same people who feel most close to you.
Character Strength #16
You expect the best in the future, and you work to achieve it. You believe that the future is something that you can control.
Character Strength #17
You work hard to finish what you start. No matter the project, you “get it out the door” in timely fashion. You do not get distracted when you work, and you take satisfaction in completing tasks.
Character Strength #18
Love of learning
You love learning new things, whether in a class or on your own. You have always loved school, reading, and museums-anywhere and everywhere there is an opportunity to learn.
Character Strength #19
You like to laugh and tease. Bringing smiles to other people is important to you. You try to see the light side of all situations.
Character Strength #20
Regardless of what you do, you approach it with excitement and energy. You never do anything halfway or halfheartedly. For you, life is an adventure.
Character Strength #21
Thinking of new ways to do things is a crucial part of who you are. You are never content with doing something the conventional way if a better way is possible.
Character Strength #22
You self-consciously regulate what you feel and what you do. You are a disciplined person. You are in control of your appetites and your emotions, not vice versa.
Character Strength #23
You are a courageous person who does not shrink from threat, challenge, difficulty, or pain. You speak up for what is right even if there is opposition. You act on your convictions.
Character Strength #24
You have strong and coherent beliefs about the higher purpose and meaning of the universe. You know where you fit in the larger scheme. Your beliefs shape your actions and are a source of comfort to you.
I was kind of surprised that Appreciation of Beauty & Excellence ranked as Strength #1–not that I don’t think it’s a major facet of my personality, I just expected it to rank below the next four traits. If anyone had asked me to rank Fairness, Honesty, and Judgement based on my own perceptions of how they apply in my life, I would have declared a three-way tie…and I wonder if my scores were actually tied in the survey, since these three strengths are listed in alphabetical order (if I’d paid $40 for the graphs, I’d know for sure!). If you’d asked me twenty years ago whether I thought Leadership would ever rank in my top 10 (or even top 50) character strengths, I’d have said no way, I am way too meek to be a leader. So I’m quite pleased that I’ve made significant progress in that aspect of my personality. I honestly expected Curiosity to rank higher, because I always have a million questions about everything, but maybe because I do try to filter them in order not to drive everyone around me crazy, that trait didn’t score so high on the questionnaire. I also expected Love of Learning to be much higher on the list, so I must not actually be doing as much as I think I am in that area. That’s definitely a strength I’d like to improve upon, but I bet I can figure out some strength-building activities on my own, without input from a coach, therapist, manager, or consultant (even though Creativity did only rank #21, so maybe not). Perseverance also needs to move up the list, although I’m not really surprised to see it in the bottom third. I have really good intentions in all situations, and my completion rate is outstanding when some other entity is holding me accountable, but my follow-through drops off if it’s a project I’ve set for myself and there are no consequences (other than a lack of personal fulfillment and feeling of accomplishment) if the task doesn’t get done. It does not shock me to see Spirituality as my weakest character strength. I do believe I am a spiritual person (though not a religious person, and in my mind there’s a big difference), but that is a very personal side of my personality, and not one that I explicitly share with others. I am content to let it lie at the bottom of the list, because I do think my beliefs guide the rest of my actions–I don’t knowingly cause harm, I help whenever I can, I stand up for what is right–and I’m happy to carry on doing so without any recognition of my spiritual motivation. So long as I never give anyone reason to claim that I did not act in a spiritually guided way, I feel fulfilled in that feature of my character.
So, having taken this Character Strength Assessment, I’m not convinced that it will be of much use in securing new employment…not sure Appreciation of Beauty & Excellence is a marketable skill in many fields. However, it provides fuel for some serious introspection and guidelines for personal growth, which are never bad things. In the meantime, if anyone knows of a similar assessment for career-related strengths that might actually be applicable when I attempt to re-enter the full-time workforce, I’d appreciate the link!