04 May 2010

Strengths and values

People who know me are familiar with my enthusiasm for a strengths-based approach to personal and professional development. Personally, I belive every nurse in the world ought to know their signature strengths. Such strengths-based knowledge supports learning in service of caring.

Do you know the constellation of character strengths you possess? There are a couple of ways to learn about and maximize your strengths skill set. I invite you to take some time to explore the VIA Institute on Character. It evolved as part of an evoluationary vision connected with developments in the field of positive psychology. Since its inception, the institute has focused on classification, testing and research related to character strengths. These classifications include cognitive, emotional, interpersonal, civic, self-control and strengths attuned to connections with the larger universe in which we live and make meaning.

Do you have a cluster of strengths related to the acquisition of knowledge? Strengths that fall under this category include creativity, curiosity, judgment and open –mindedness, love of learning and mastery of providing perspective. Courage is the category of strength that includes bravery, perseverance, honesty and zest. Humanitarian interpersonal strengths include the capacity to love and be loved, coupled with kindness and social intelligence. Commitments to building community involve the civic strengths of justice, teamwork, fairness and leadership.

Temperance, as a strength, modulates and works against excess and includes the value set of self-control, prudence, modesty and humility, as well as forgiveness and mercy. Finally, strengths that help us transcend and find meaning in the larger universe include appreciation of beauty and excellence, gratitude, hope, humor and spiritual consciousness, supported by faith or purpose. Wouldn’t it be great to know what your character strengths and values are? Such self-knowledge enables one to be clear about personal and professional contributions to the nursing care enterprise.

Once upon a time, you could take the brief version of the Character Strengths profile for free. A recent visit to the VIA Institute on Character revealed they no longer offer that service as an option. However, they do have a number of free resources. Check out the research studies. Perhaps the most useful resource is "340 Ways to Use VIA Character Strengths." As you consider some of the suggestions about using and developing your strengths, share your plans with a friend or colleague, and invite them to develop their strengths. Contemplate how development of your individual strengths contributes to your leadership in the greater community where you live and work!

For Reflections on Nursing Leadership, published by the Honor Society of Nursing, Sigma Theta Tau International.