Saturday, April 3, 2010

Survey of Individual Character Strengths

  One of my favorite sites on the web these days is The Art of Manliness.  For the last month or so, they have had a multi-part series on identifying and building your resilience, a trait they identify as "hardiness."
  I have really been enjoying it, and while some of it is of the "no shit" variety about not letting external events affect your internal thoughts and beliefs, there have been some absolute gems as well.  Gender neutering and a disregard for basic differences between men and women seems so common today that it is refreshing to find a site that attempts to speak to that primordial soup that makes up "man" or "maleness." 
  In the 5th segment of the series, the author discusses identifying and utilizing your signature strengths, and provides a link to a survey that helps with the process.  The survey's authors had conducted research which yielded 6 core virtues, identified as Wisdom, Courage, Humanity, Justice, Temperance, and Inter-connectedness (transcendence).  These were identified as virtues that had been prized and respected throughout history and across different religions and cultures.  This was further broken down into 24 character strengths, and their quiz scores how you stack up to the rest of the population on these characteristics. 

  Here's my results, along with my notes for each:

1. Wisdom and Knowledge-cognitive strengths that entail the acquisition and use of knowledge
  • Creativity: Defined as "Thinking of novel and productive ways to do things; includes artistic achievement but is not limited to it."  I scored very high here, and I believe that that is accurate.  At work and in my personal life, I usually look for ways to make things better or more efficient.
  •  Curiosity: Defined as "Taking an interest in all of ongoing experience for its own sake; finding subjects and topics fascinating; exploring and discoveringI scored very low here, and that makes sense.  I am very curious about some things, but I am not interested in all subjects.  I tend to immerse myself in the things that affect me, and ignore everything else.
  • Open-Mindedness: Defined as "Thinking things through and examining them from all sides; not jumping to conclusions; being able to change one's mind in light of evidence; weighing all evidence fairly."  I scored well here, although I do think that I often jump to conclusions, and I am usually pretty stubborn about changing my mind.
  • Love of Learning: Defined as "Mastering new skills, topics, and bodies of knowledge, whether on one's own or formally; obviously related to the strength of curiosity but goes beyond it to describe the tendency to add systematically to what one knows."  Scored VERY low here, but I do not think that is very accurate.  I may have a more narrow field of interest than some others, but I read voraciously, and I enjoy adding new skills, learning new things, etc.
  • Perspective: Defined as "Being able to provide wise counsel to others; having ways of looking at the world that make sense to oneself and to other people."  Scored well here, in the 70th percentile.  Obviously folks, I has wisdom, and you should listen to me.
2. Courage-emotional strengths that involve the exercise of will to accomplish goals in the face of opposition, external or internal.
  • Bravery: Defined as "Not shrinking from threat, challenge, difficulty, or pain; speaking up for what is right even if there is opposition; acting on convictions even if unpopular; includes physical bravery but is not limited to it."  Scored in the mid 80's here.  I feel that I am likely to tell you what I think, regardless of whether you hold that same belief or if it is a popular stance.  I also think that I have a high pain tolerance and will persist in the face of difficulty.  
  • Persistence: Defined as "Finishing what one starts; persisting in a course of action in spite of obstacles; "getting it out out the door"; taking pleasure in completing tasks."  Scored on about the average here, which surprised me.  In general, I complete what I start, and I definitely take pleasure in accomplishing goals.  
  • Integrity: Defined as "Speaking the truth but more broadly presenting oneself in a genuine way; being without pretense; taking responsibility for one's feelings and actions."  Scored well here.  I do think that I have stripped away a lot of my pretensions, but have a long way to go still.
  • Vitality: "Approaching life with excitement and energy; not doing things halfway or halfheartedly; living life as an adventure; feeling alive and activated."  Scored about the average here, and that surprised me.  However, I do tend to "drift" at times, living a status-quo lifestyle for a stretch before jumping into a million adventures, so maybe it's the lack of consistency that got me on this one.
3. Humanity-interpersonal strengths that involve tending and befriending others
  • Love: "Valuing close relations with others, in particular those in which sharing and caring are reciprocated; being close to people."  Scored high here, especially in compared to other men.  A little surprised, as I tend to go hermit-style at times.
  • Kindness: "Doing favors and good deeds for others; helping them; taking care of them."  Hmm...apparently, I am a selfish bastard.
  • Social Intelligence: "Being aware of the motives and feelings of other people and oneself; knowing what to do to fit in to different social situations; knowing what makes other people tick; Social intelligence."  Scored terribly here.  I actually think I am aware of what is needed to fit into social situations, I just rarely care enough to make that effort.  But I AM in sales, and I can create a rapport with people when I want to.  Not sure I agree with the test's score on this one.
4. Justice-civic strengths that underlie healthy community life
  • Citizenship: "Working well as member of a group or team; being loyal to the group; doing one's share."  Did not score too hot here.  I prefer working alone, that is true.
  • Fairness: "Treating all people the same according to notions of fairness and justice; not letting personal feelings bias decisions about others; giving everyone a fair chance."  Scored above average on fairness.  I do make snap judgments about people though.
  • Leadership: "Encouraging a group of which one is a member to get things done and at the same time maintain good relations within the group; organizing group activities and seeing that they happen."  Scored low, as expected.  I am not a leader.  I don't consider myself a follower either, I think that I just do my own thing.  I rarely have any interest in organizing or leading people.  Usually have the belief that everyone should act in accordance with their beliefs and what they think is best.
5. Temperance-strengths that protect against excess.
  • Forgiveness and Mercy: "Forgiving those who have done wrong; giving people a second chance; not being vengeful."  Scored average.  I tend not to forgive for doing me wrong.
  • Humility/Modesty: "Letting one's accomplishments speak for themselves; not seeking the spotlight; not regarding one's self as more special than one is." Scored low, which is obviously ridiculous!  I am so humble that NO ONE is more humble than me.  That's why I have a blog..oh, wait.
  • Prudence: "Being careful about one's choices; not taking undue risks; not saying or doing things that might later be regretted."  This apparently was where I scored the highest.  Considering my choice of hobbies include combat sports and a myriad of outdoors activities of varying degrees of danger, I am not convinced.  I AM pretty careful about what I say to people and who I decide to invest myself in.  It wasn't always like that, but I have improved over the last few years.
  • Self-regulation: "Regulating what one feels and does; being disciplined; controlling one's appetites and emotions."  Scored low on self-control, which makes sense...kind of.  I think I have more discipline than most, despite what the test says.  I definitely need to improve by a huge amount regarding excess and my control of it, however.
6. Transcendence-strengths that forge connections to other people and the larger universe and provide meaning.
  • Appreciation of beauty and excellence (awe, wonder, elevation): "Noticing and appreciating beauty, excellence, and/or skilled performance in all domains of life, from nature to art to mathematics to science to everyday experience."  Scored low here, and I agree with it in terms of my appreciation for humanities like music and art.  I can appreciate a sunset or mountain view as well as anyone though.
  • Gratitude: "Being aware of and thankful for the good things that happen; taking time to express thanks."  About average here.  I should be more appreciative.
  • Hope: "Expecting the best in the future and working to achieve it; believing that a good future is something that can be brought about."  Scored very high here, almost in the 90's.  This one I strongly agree with, and I believe that my faith that the future is something malleable is one of my biggest strengths.  I do not believe in luck or fate, just cause and effect.  That is immensely empowering, and I love feeling that I am responsible for what I get out of life.
The point of learning these things about yourself is to play to your strengths and improve on your weaknesses.  For me, the test reaffirmed that my basic make-up is solid; I work hard, treat people fairly, and I have working levels of grit, intelligence and enthusiasm.  I could do with a bit more discipline and strength of mind, along with a wider appreciation for people, beliefs and experiences that are foreign to me.


linda said...

martin, yer awesome!
so the test says.

but also, you just gave away your secrets!

Anonymous said...

I do find the current trend of gender neutrality and sexual androgyny to be a little frustrating. I am all for people being aware and respectful of differences, but I also don't think achieving that means entirely compromising those differences. A man can believe in equal rights and still enjoy a strip show; woman can kick ass in the boardroom and still make a delicious apple pie.

Tangential mini-rant aside, I think your self-assesment was pretty fair. And you do have humility--you just stubbornly chose not to exercise it! ;)

Alison said...

So you are an uninquisitive, anti social, bigheaded, risk averse, selfish git eh? Good to know.

10 out of 10 for bravery (stupidity?) in disecting your character on the internet for all to see though...

Anonymous said...

Have you read "Hagakure"?
Makes Bushido look like a joke.
Illuminating and motivating in a lot of ways that are not really acceptable these days.

Juliana said...


also, this post was shared on reader for all my man-friends.

Martin said...

Linda - Thanks :)

Clara - pie

Alison - you're supposed to fill it out next

Gaijinass - Just printed out a PDF version and Ill read it starting today. Sounds badass.

Juliana - Thanks for sharing. Let me know what your character weaknesses are.

Textbookfairytale said...

Awesome I plan on doing this.