Prudence and $20 be Damned!

I just took half an hour our to put myself through an online “Values in Action – Strengths” survey (and then dropped the $20 at the end to get the report) (sneaky buggers didn’t mention anything about that at the start of the survey!). Not that I am too bothered as the report that my twenty delivered has been an interesting read. Really.

Quite interesting.

My top six strengths are as follows:

  1. Curiosity
  2. Fairness
  3. Forgiveness
  4. Humor
  5. Zest
  6. Judgement

The prompts are, “How have these signature strengths played a role in your life successes?” and “What effect does using your signature strengths have on others?”

As I once again read through the six strengths listed above, I can see how these six have directly influenced where I am today. Having recently gone through a bi-annual performance management meeting I can recall  one or two of these being directly referenced as strengths of mine. To read them again in this report has been illuminating.

Similarly illuminating are the bottom six.why

  1. Gratitude
  2. Prudence
  3. Bravery
  4. Perseverance
  5. Self-regulation
  6. Spirituality

Interestingly, the report spends 12 pages focussing on my strengths. Descriptions of each one. Examples of what they look like in practice. Quotes from famous people. How I can “flex” my strength. Activities to consider to strengthen each area. How others perceive each of the strengths, etc. That is two pages of info for each of my strengths – for the values that I already “do” very well.

For the bottom 6 – the ones I don’t do very well – for my (as the report puts it) “lesser strengths” – or (as anyone else might put it), my weaknesses, there is a total of ONE page!

No inspiring words of wisdom from long-dead politicians or scientists or poets. No examples of how others perceive someone who is exceptionally good at saying “no” (self-regulating) to themselves. No stories of the brave person (bravery) who was good at choosing when (prudence) to say thank you (gratitude)! Just a single page with each lesser strength, a brief description and two empty slots – almost saying, “Don’t kid yourself ! There are two more slots here that can be filled with more “lesser strengths”! You’re not that good!”

Obviously it is easier to describe strong strengths than it is to describe how to strengthen “lesser” strengths. Obviously because my strongest strength is “Curiosity” I can go ahead and find out myself how to be more grateful, prudent, brave, persevering, self-regulatory and spiritual.

So, in an effort to “flex” my Gratitude strength a little bit more, to hopefully enlarge it to greater-than-lesser proportions I will swallow my growing regret that I dropped a twenty for this report and be thankful. I have learned something about myself today.

Curiosity is my greatest strength. It has helped me to be where I am today, and honestly I would have to agree. As I cast my eyes back along the path I have travelled it is Curiosity that has led me off into the woods along the paths less travelled. And for that I am thankful (there’s some more gratitude!).

While I might disagree that I have not been grateful (enough) along the way, it is fair to say that a little more prudence and self-regulation at certain roadside inns lining the journey might have made for a less bumpy ride.