How Understanding Our Strengths Improves US

October 8, 2009

I recently read the book the Happiness Hypothesis and it eventually led to my going to AuthenticHappiness.org, where I took the VIA Survey of Character Strengths, that measured 24 Strengths.

Here are my strengths:

  1. Creativity, ingenuity, and originality
  2. Fairness, equity, and justice
  3. Love of learning
  4. Forgiveness and mercy
  5. Perspective (wisdom)
  6. Social intelligence
  7. Gratitude
  8. Leadership
  9. Capacity to love and be loved
  10. Humor and playfulness
  11. Judgment, critical thinking, and open-mindedness
  12. Curiosity and interest in the world
  13. Kindness and generosity
  14. Zest, enthusiasm, and energy
  15. Appreciation of beauty and excellence
  16. Self-control and self-regulation
  17. Citizenship, teamwork, and loyalty
  18. Hope, optimism, and future-mindedness
  19. Spirituality, sense of purpose, and faith
  20. Caution, prudence, and discretion
  21. Bravery and valor
  22. Honesty, authenticity, and genuineness
  23. Modesty and humility
  24. Industry, diligence, and perseverance

How Understanding My Strengths Solves Problems For Me

This was interesting because it revealed certain things about me, such as why I would sometimes become unhappy. For example, I was lamenting a week ago that I had not worked on my current company The RingWing for quite some time. This lack of motivation and effort was bothering me a tremendous amount and making me very unhappy. By looking at the above list I realized that I was trying to use my lowest strength (Industry, diligence, and perseverance) to fix the problem. This is not one of my top strengths. I would have better results by being creative (#1) or appealing to my sense of fairness and equity (#2). When I stopped trying to be industrious, something which I rarely actually am, I became much happier and ironically more industrious.

Another example is how I attacked getting this blog post done. My schedule had moved around today and I had an open block that I was trying to figure out what to do. I ran into some difficulty over whether to write a story, read, or write a blog post. I realized that this difficulty was probably stemming from using an inadequate strength to address the lack of activity.

It turned out to be the case. I ran my finger down the above list and realized I was trying to create action by using my lower strengths. Namely: Caution, prudence and discretion (#20) and industriousness (#24).  So I abandoned trying to be cautious, and quite suddenly I was able to engage in this act of blog writing with ease.

How Knowing Our Strengths Might Help Groups

This led me to wonder what it might be like if we could see the relationships between different people’s strengths. I started to collect people’s results and I have been slowly building a spreadsheet on which I can do comparisons between people.

There are some things I have learned from doing this.  For one, I can now see how people are addressing the world based on the contexts of their top strengths. I have a friend who immediately puts everything I give to him under rigorous analysis, testing its merits. I realized that this is because he ranks very high in judgment/critical thinking (It is his #1 Strength). So instead of trying to get him to change, I am now much calmer when he does it. And instead of just becoming passive to this mode, I accentuate it with my own top characteristic by being as creative as possible.

So this Strengths Test not only helps us understand ourselves, but it helps us understand other people.

I was initially thinking that it would be useful to find a co-founder to a company that is entirely complimentary to myself. For example, the person entirely complimentary to me would have a list like this:

  1. Industry, diligence, and perseverance
  2. Modesty and humility
  3. Honesty, authenticity, and genuineness
  4. Bravery and valor
  5. Caution, prudence, and discretion
  6. Spirituality, sense of purpose, and faith
  7. Hope, optimism, and future-mindedness
  8. Citizenship, teamwork, and loyalty
  9. Self-control and self-regulation
  10. Appreciation of beauty and excellence
  11. Zest, enthusiasm, and energy
  12. Kindness and generosity
  13. Curiosity and interest in the world
  14. Judgment, critical thinking, and open-mindedness
  15. Humor and playfulness
  16. Capacity to love and be loved
  17. Leadership
  18. Gratitude
  19. Social intelligence
  20. Perspective (wisdom)
  21. Forgiveness and mercy
  22. Love of learning
  23. Fairness, equity, and justice
  24. Creativity, ingenuity, and originality

The idea I had behind finding this person is that I would have a partner who makes up for everything that I have a hard time to come to bear on. However, this seems to focus on weakness, which I do not like. It is trying to make up for a lack.

And one of the things that I have discovered is that as you focus on your top five strengths, you start to pull up all of your other strengths, when I am creative and involved in justice and equity, I become industrious and brave. My lows are lifted up when I exercise my inclinations.

Perhaps combinations for achieving something are best amplified by pairing with people similar to your strengths. So that your top strengths are pushed to new heights through the act of competing with a similar person. It might be we are best aided in our efforts by pairing ourselves in a feedback loop of genius.

As I get more people’s results I will find out more about this.

Questions I want to Research

What do the strengths of successful (everyone got wealthier) start-up founders look like?

What do pairings of successful romantic relationships look like?

How can this be used to make people happier, more self actualized, and increase their contribution to society?

Projects I am Interested in Starting

A founder pairing service where you put in your dream, expertise, location, and strengths, and it matches you up based on the complimentary nature of your strengths.

An advice system where you put in things you wish to achieve and are having difficulty with. People rate the goals based on what characteristics would most likely help, and then it passes that goal to the person best suited to address it.

A Call for Help

If you are a successful pair or trio of founders, please send me your VIA Strengths Tests results. I am very curious as to if there is any correlation between complementarity and similarity of strengths in relation to success in the form of wealth increasing exits or the achievement of profits. You can take the test here at AuthenticHappines.org.  The site is run by the University of Pennsylvania. Then send me your results.

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2 Responses to “How Understanding Our Strengths Improves US”

  1. Bryce Mc Says:

    This is a fantastic post Adrian. I’m going to read that book now.

    Interesting stuff (as all your posts are).

    -Bryce

  2. sahaj Says:

    i think the key would be to understand weaknesses as the weaknesses are what are holding us back. we don’t notice our strengths as they don’t hold us back and don’t make us unhappy.

    in a business, you want to eliminate/improve the part of the company that is providing negative revenue/profit.


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