Leveraging your strengths to help build tomorrow

We moved out to Calgary for a few different reasons with one of the goals being that both Mike and I can pursue fulfilling and rewarding careers. Now having said that I don’t think that goal was completely realistic but we thought we had a better chance of accomplishing it here then back home in Ontario.

We have quickly learned that it might be almost impossible for both of us to work traditional 9 to 5 jobs (or a slight variation of that) simultaneously. The challenges involve finding consistent and reliable before and after school care arrangements for Reilly and her increasingly complex medical issues which result in endless appointments. Oh and you can’t forget about the crazy sleep schedule, or lack thereof, we would have to maintain while trying to hold down two full time jobs and create a healthy overall family life.

Either one of us would be more than happy to take a part-time job (20-28 hours) so the other one could bring in the necessary full-time income but based on our particular business backgrounds, part-time jobs using these skills don’t seem to exist.   As a result, I have spent numerous hours searching for alternate part-time work that would leverage my strengths but the only thing that comes up is lunchroom supervisor positions, Starbucks Barista or retail jobs. At this point in my life, I absolutely can’t bring myself to do these types of jobs.   I do not take this position because I think I am better than those who do these jobs but rather because I know I would be resentful and miserable that Rett Syndrome has taken one more thing from me.

Consequently I have been spending a lot of time lately trying to make sure I really understand who I am and what makes me tick so I can create a plan that will allow me to fully embrace our situation while actually feeling engaged, if not satisfied and fulfilled. As part of this journey, I took the following free VIA Inventory of Strengths Survey to see if it would reveal anything of value.

The VIA Signature Strengths Survey measures 24 character strengths that are taken from Christopher Peterson and Martin E. P. Seligman work on creating an authoritative classification and measurement system for human strengths.  After completing this survey you are given  your 5 greatest character strengths.


My Top 5 Strengths

1.  Love of Learning – this one did not surprise me at all.   All you need to do is look at my bedside table to see the stack of books that are always on the go or the Education section of my resume.

2. Perseverance  – this strength reflects finishing what you set out to do. There is no question this strength reflects me, I have always been a goal setter and have worked hard to achieve them – whether it be work related, running marathons or other personal projects. 

3. Bravery  – this strength also resonates with me.  I have never shrunk away from threat, challenge, pain or difficulty and have often stepped forward to voice an unpopular opinion when it was the right thing to do. Having said this I would be more than happy to step backward from this strength.

4. Perspective  – I do like to think that people seek me out to help solve their problems, or brain storm on possible options and that I provide value.  This is definitely a strength I would like to develop further.

5. Judgment  – in most situations I do pride myself on being a highly rational and critical thinker that is open to other ideas and inputs.  In a business setting I would have to say that this is a core strength of mine and something I really enjoy doing.

Last 2 Strengths

23. Spirituality – although I do leave the door open for spirituality I don’t devote any time to nourishing this part of my life so it is only fair that this strength appears near the bottom of the list.

24. Self Regulation -I had to chuckle at seeing this one.  As much as I want to lose the extra weight there is no question self-regulation is a huge weakness for me. Not just with food but in controlling my emotions as well.  Sigh.

In reviewing my top 5 strengths I am not surprised with any of them nor the bottom two, for they truly represent where I have focused my energy and resources in the past.  The great thing about Strengths is that you can choose which ones you want to develop and build upon unlike Talents that are considered to be innate capabilities that you either have or don’t have.  So although Self Regulation is currently a weakness of mine it doesn’t mean I can’t make progress in this area. I can either consciously work on developing this particular strength or leverage my top strengths to help overcome or compensate for this obvious weakness of mine.

Once you figure out your signature strengths, the ones that truly feel authentic and real to who you are, then you have the ability to reach your full potential or at least be more happy and fulfilled in the process of working towards that goal.

The next step for me is to to understand how I can fully leverage them in my current situation so instead of feeling sorry for myself, resentful and misaligned in life I can feel empowered, satisfied and fulfilled.


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