Getting to know my superpowers

If you were to name your top three character strengths, what would they be? Would they be honesty, fairness, and hope? Or kindness, bravery, and perseverance? And once you had defined those character strengths, what would you do with that knowledge? Would it make your life any different?

In September of 2015, I took the VIA Survey. I discovered my top three character strengths are:

  • love of learning
  • judgment
  • perspective

Once I read the results, I went on with life as usual. It was nice to know but I didn’t see the application.

What’s A Character Strength

Let's back up a bit, starting with what the VIA Survey is and what it measures. The Via Survey is a  "psychometrically validated personality test that measures an individual's character strengths. Character strengths are ... our core capacities for thinking, feeling, and behaving in ways that can bring benefit to us and others."  [source]

According to the VIA Institute on Character, there are 24 character strengths. The institute divides the strengths into 6 core virtues. Everyone has all 24 strengths, but to varying degrees. And each strength functions in context with all the others. This makes each profile unique to each person.

My top three character strengths all belong to the core virtue of wisdom. Wisdom, in this sense, is acquiring knowledge and putting that knowledge to noble use.

My first character strength, love of learning, indicates a desire to master new skills and topics. It goes beyond simple curiosity. It’s a systematic approach to the acquisition of knowledge.

Judgment, my second strength, means I tend to exam things from all sides and don't often jump to conclusions. Last, is perspective. This strength means I have a way of making the world make sense, for myself and for others.

The Results Resurface

As I said above, I first saw these results in the fall of 2015. They looked interesting and spot-on. But over the last 19 months, I haven't thought of them at all. It wasn't until a recent insight and a job interview that I even remembered the VIA Survey.

So what exactly brought these strengths back into the light? And do I plan to ignore them again?

Recently, I asked myself what one or two skills I could maximize. I also asked myself what activities engaged and energized me. Last, I revisited my core values.

Then I created a colorful mindmap with words like content research, cultivate learning, and writing. Other words I included were growth, trust, discovery, observant, articulate, curious, and intelligent.

This mindmap helped me narrow down and define my ideal career. What activities must this job include? What values must it support? What skills do I want to use in this career?

I hung this mindmap up on my wall and continued on with life, checking the job board occasionally. Low and behold, just a few days after this exercise, a position was posted that focused on k-12 STEM outreach and programming. Why hello there?

I immediately applied. And then waited that horrendous wait. You know, where you wonder every other minute if you are going to get an interview.  I did.

During the interview process, I was reminded how much I love helping others learn. I had a vivid memory of times past when I would get down on the level of a child and walk them through a process,describe a scenario, or share a fun fact. What I remembered most was the look on their faces when they “got it” and the feeling that overtook me in those moments.

It’s Starting To Make Sense

That memory brought it all into focus. I need those looks and I need that feeling. Not just some day, but nearly every day.

I need those looks and that feeling because my core capacities for benefiting myself and others is to acquire knowledge in a objective, methodical manner and then make sense of it for others. See how this all ties together?

So welcome to my outlet for creating those moments of a-ha. While I won't be able to see your faces when something I write sparks insight, I can imagine. I can research a topic, mull it over, and then share it in the hopes that it will help you make better sense of the world.