Monday Tip: Use your strengths at work

The Chief Happiness Officer's monday tipsI talk to a lot of people who are struggling to find a sense of their contribution to the workplace. They keep wondering what their role is, how they create value and, in a certain sense, what their identity is at work.

Do you know what you’re really good at in your job? Where you shine? Do you have a good sense of your contribution to the workplace?

Your mission this Monday is to learn more about your strengths at work by taking the VIA Signature Strengths Questionnaire. This test has been developed as part of Martin Seligmann’s work in positive psychology and indicates what your top 5 signature strengths are out of a total of 24 potential personal strengths.

Here’s how you do it:

  1. Go take the VIA Signature Strengths Questionnaire. You’ll be asked to register as a user first but it is free.
  2. Take the test. It has 240 questions so this can take a while :o)
  3. Make a list of your top 5 strengths.
  4. For each of your top 5 signature strengths, try to write down some situations at work where you use those strengths.
  5. Take a look at your list. What strengths do you get to use often at work? These represent your main contribution to the workplace.
  6. What strengths do you rarely or never use at work? These represent untapped potential for you and your workplace. Is there any way you could get to use them more often?
  7. If you like, come back to this post and write your top 5 strengths in a comment so we can get to know each other a little better. I already wrote my top strengths in a comment :o)

This is a great exercise because it helps you discover your personal contribution to the workplace and also to find out of you have strengths that you are not currently using at work. Using your strengths daily is an important factor in becoming happy at work and in life. It will also make you more successful at work.

Finally, a strength-based approach where you look at your personal strengths and how you can use them more at work is a lot more effective and a lot more fun than looking at your shortcomings and problems.

The Chief Happiness Officer’s Monday tips are simple, easy, fun things you can do to make yourself and others happy at work and get the work-week off to a great start. Something everyone can do in five minutes, tops. When you try it, write a comment here to tell me how it went.

Previous monday tips.

22 thoughts on “Monday Tip: Use your strengths at work”

  1. I can start – I took the test a month ago and my top strengths are:
    Love of learning
    Appreciation of beauty and excellence.

    I’d say that pretty much sums me AND my work up :o)

  2. I’ll jump in here :) Looking at a change in role/career, interesting timing with this little(actually, big) survey..Ideas appreciated.

    Curiosity and interest in the world
    Forgiveness and mercy
    Appreciation of beauty and excellence
    Love of learning
    Self-control and self-regulation

    Thanks and Peace,


  3. Nice. Mine are:
    Love of learning
    Curiosity and interest in the world
    Creativity, ingenuity, and originality
    Forgiveness and mercy
    Humor and playfulness

  4. * Love of learning
    * Appreciation of beauty and excellence
    * Creativity, ingenuity & originality
    * Curiosity and interest in the world
    * Gratitude

    None of which is a huge surprise, honestly. My last annual evaluation at my old job listed my problem-solving and interest in learning new things as my top strengths. :) And it’s something I’m proud of. I credit my mother and grandmother for that second one…all the years of going to the art museum when I was a kid.

    The first 4 feel like they’re all of a piece, being interested in what’s going on in the world and figuring out how to put it to work in my life.

    It confirms that I’m in the right place, professionally, doing something that gives me a chance to exercise my strengths.

    And thanks for the link; there’s all sorts of interesting stuff there!

  5. 1) Humor and Playfulness
    2) Bravery and valor
    3) Judgment, critical thinking and open-mindedness
    4) Kindness and Generosity
    5) Love of Learning

    On the shorter survey, though, critical thinking came in first and humor was way down the list.

    Forgiveness and spirituality are at the bottom of my list. Ha! Once I had a review that said that I got everyone through the day with my “wicked sense of humor.” I’m not sure it it was meant as a compliment, but I took it as one.

  6. ~ Capacity to love and be loved
    ~ Love of learning
    ~ Caution, prudence and discretion
    ~ Perspective (wisdom)
    ~ Judgment, critical thinking and open-mindedness

    I’m fascinated to see how different these lists are.

  7. 1. Love of learning
    2. Spirituality, sense of purpose
    3. Curiosity and interest in the world
    4. Honesty, authenticity and genuineness
    5. Self-control and self-regulation

    Looking at this list, I can tell I am in the right profession and calling: I am a registered nurse. My love of learning keeps me up to date on the latest evidence-based practices and the other signature strengths allow me to cross-pollinate ideas, theories, and practices from other disciplines to strengthen my own professional practice.

    The strength I wish I had but came in way last (#24) was humor and playfulness. I think that might actually be because of the position I am currently in and the challenges I and my staff are facing. I have taken some improv courses to help improve my spontaneity. Maybe once I’m in a position where I no longer have to be responsible for others’ happiness and joy, I can focus on my own.

  8. Hi Mary K,

    How do you expect to be able to make other people happy if you are not happy yourself? When you are happy, those around you will also become happy, just by being in your presense.

    “Oxygen masks in airplanes, help to display this in Buddhism. The saying on planes, Put(ting) your oxygen mask on before assisting others, is a selfless teaching. The reason for putting your mask on first, is the Buddhist parallel;

  9. I wonder if you have heard of the book “Now, Discover Your Strengths” by Marcus Buckingham and Donald O. Clifton. This was a follow-up to “First, Break all the Rules” a great book about what makes a great manager. “Now, Discover Your Strengths” is a book about the Clifton Strengths Finder test put together by the Gallup Organization. You take the test online and it lists your top five strengths (out of 32 which have been identified over years of research by Gallup). The newest version of this test was recently made available with the release of the book “Strengths Finder 2.0.” The result from this test not only give you a detailed look at your strengths, but also how your specific strengths interact with each other. It also gives you a personalized document with specific action items to start implementing your strengths in you life.

    They also have a number of books dealing with using your strengths in different areas. While “Strengths Finder 2.0” is more geared toward business, “Living Your Strengths” talks about getting more out of your spiritual life using your strengths, “Teaching Your Strengths” deals with using your strengths to be a better teacher, and “Discover Your Sales Strengths” applies your strengths to being a better salesperson. There is also a book called “Strengths Quest” which focuses on helping students discover their strengths and implement them in their study techniques. I know Azusa Pacific University in Azusa, CA has integrated this book into it’s freshman and transfer orientation course.

    I think improving one’s strengths is a much better personal-development strategy and the Clifton Strengths Finder is the best tool available for discovering and developing your strengths.


  10. 1. Judgment, critical thinking, and open-mindedness
    2. Creativity, ingenuity, and originality
    3. Fairness, equity, and justice
    4. Forgiveness and mercy
    5. Bravery and valor

    Pretty accurate survey, though I would have thought I’d get an entry for Love of Learning as well. Oh well, I’m not particularly good at answering survey questions, a lot of them seem so general and hard to apply to my specific situation. I guess that’s not one of my strengths lol.

  11. Humor and playfulness
    Creativity, ingenuity, and originality
    Curiosity and interest in the world
    Judgment, critical thinking, and open-mindedness

    I think it’s an excellent “result”. I like fooling around, am quite creative and I would make a great leader ;).

  12. * Forgiveness and mercy
    * Leadership
    * Citizenship, teamwork, and loyalty
    * Fairness, equity, and justice
    * Bravery and valor

    Not a bad result. :-)

  13. Really your strengths should be applicable to any career. I would think they would help define better what position you should play in that career. Like I said previously Strengths Finder 2.0 by Tom Rath is a great book on applying your strengths to your job, with specific actions you can take to implement them on a daily basis.

  14. I would love to know a resource out there that talks about people who have a certain career that are happy with it that share my top 5 strengths.

    Any ideas?


    Curious and Interested in the World

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