Most people these days seem to know their “type” according to the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). You know whether you prefer to be more extraverted or introverted, thinking or feeling, or judging or perceiving. The MBTI has been one of the most popular tests in pop psychology for decades. People who have taken the test love to guess one another’s type.
Another test that has emerged as the main research-based test of strengths in the world is the VIA Survey. The VIA measures strengths of character and in a short period of time has had over 2.6 million takers reaching every country.
It is probably not useful to ask the age-old question whether our core strengths of character are more a product of our genes or our environment. When it comes to our personality, the answer is almost always – “both are important.” And, some scientists believe that with the advancements in epigenetics and the study of the interaction of our gene and environment, that the nature/nurture question becomes rhetorical and fruitless, similar to the question: What contributes more to the area of a rectangle – the height or the width?
Instead of viewing which is “more,” we can attempt to learn from both sides and make this immediately practical.
Just a month ago the VIA Institute on Character launched a new survey that asked people what character strengths are essential in a great President. The survey then invited the user to rate the character strengths of the Presidential candidates.
The results are in!…just in time for Election Day. I’ll start with the conclusions and then offer more details.
Who is more curious – Barack Obama or Mitt Romney?
Is it Romney or Obama who is perceived to be more brave, more honest, or more creative?
Who’s the stronger team-player: Joe Biden or Paul Ryan?
Each of the strengths noted are important attributes of our character. What do you think? Let your voice be heard – nominate the strengths of each candidate at the VIA Presidential Caucus poll.
I recently watched the reenactment of a story of a young man, Dave, who decided he would impress a group of friends by swimming across a Florida canal to a pier and back. Dave’s friends were gathered at a cottage home, celebrating a recent college graduation. They were busy reminiscing, telling stories from their recent past and speculating where they might find themselves a year or two from now.
When Dave suggested he would dive in and swim to the pier, the friends softly resisted but they knew that once Dave got an idea in his head he refused to give it up; it was already a foregone conclusion.
The problem is he went for a swim in water that was teeming with alligators.
If you’re like most people (myself included), then you have work to do in terms of understanding your strengths. Survey research has found that most people do not have a meaningful awareness of their strengths. What’s more, it’s all-too-common for people to underuse their strengths.
We forget to take notice of our best strengths and find ways to let them loose in our lives. Take Bill, for instance.