By Elizabeth Jennings, Deputy Director, National Disability Institute
A recent report from the National Trends in Disability Employment (NTIDE) showed that more people with disabilities are working now than earlier this year. Several factors are contributing to these gains, including new opportunities to work from home. Whether you are commuting to an office to work or travelling from your breakfast table to your desk, I want to share with you ways that you can use your character strengths to be your best at work.
What are character strengths?
Every human being has 24 character strengths that are core to who we are and how we think, feel and behave. The 24 character strengths are catalogued under six virtues – wisdom, courage, humanity, transcendence, justice and moderation. Because we each have all 24 character strengths, they connect us and help you to better understand your personality and behavior AND better understand how you are just like your fellow man.
Understanding your character strengths and exploring ways to use them can help you:
- Better know yourself and better understand others;
- Improve your belief that you can make good things happen for you and that you can handle difficult things;
- Increase your happiness;
- Decrease your depression; and
- Reach your goals.
How do I learn about my character strengths?
Complete this free survey from the VIA Institute to learn the ranking of your character strengths. This survey is available in 39 languages, offers an option for adults and for youth and even offers a tool for supporting youth with disabilities to complete.
After you take the survey, you will receive a ranking of all 24 of your character strengths. The ranking helps you understand which strengths you use the most. Your top five strengths are called your signature strengths. Your signature strengths are the ones you lean on the most. Focusing in on using these strengths in new ways can give us a boost of positive emotion. Using these signature strengths at work can increase your well-being because they help you to show up as your true self.
How will using character strengths at work help me?
Research shows that using your character strengths at work can help you:
- Better cope with work-related stress.
- Increase your job satisfaction.
- Be more productive.
- Want to go to work more often.
- Perform better at work.
So how do I use these strengths at work?
Here are five ways that you can use your character strengths at work.
- Read over your character strengths survey results.
- Is the ranking in the order you expected?
- Are there strengths with which you most align?
- Are there strengths you don’t typically recognize in yourself?
- How do you feel now that you know that you have 24 strengths to use in all aspects of your life, including at work?
- Identify one challenge you are experiencing at work.
- What is one way you can use one or more of your character strengths in a new way to overcome this challenge?
- What is one first step you can take to use the character strength you identified?
- Identify a person at work that you interact with regularly.
- Which strengths do they use at work?
- How do they use their strengths?
- Are these strengths that you share?
- How do you use these strengths in your own life?
- Complete the following activity at the end of the day.
- Think back on the good things that occurred today.
- Write down three things that went well and why they went well.
- Use the VIA Classification and look for the strengths that you/others used.
- How did what happened make you feel?
- Write about (or share with someone you trust) a time when you successfully overcame a challenge at work. The challenge may reflect having to learn a new task, design a solution to a problem or overcome an interpersonal conflict.
- What were the circumstances?
- Which of your strengths did you use?
- Are there other skills you used?
- How did you feel when you overcame the challenge?
- How would you handle that challenge today?
If you’re looking for a job, here’s one way you can use your character strengths in your job hunt:
- Create an elevator pitch for your next job interview that tells the interviewer about several of your signature strengths and how they help to explain how you are qualified for the job, a good fit for the job and/or how you will use them on the job.
Want more opportunities to improve your well-being?
Join National Disability Institute’s (NDI) #ResilientPwD text message campaign by texting the word RESILIENT to 833-632-0273. You will receive two text messages each week. Each message uses the science of well-being to help combat stress and feelings of isolation, build positive thinking and establish new behavior patterns that promote your resilience and well-being.
I’d love to hear how this goes for you. Feel free to leave a comment or drop me a line at email@example.com.
Elizabeth Jennings, Deputy Director of National Disability Institute, has worked in the field of disability services for over 22 years. Elizabeth is skilled in multi-modal training and technical assistance with an eye on customizing materials and approach to address learner differences and facilitate knowledge gains and capacity building. She is recognized nationally for her knowledge on employment and economic advancement strategies that improve the financial stability of people with disabilities and the interplay of those strategies with public benefits. Elizabeth applies positive psychology to NDI policies and select projects.