My sister Jenny loves to liven up dinner parties by asking guests around the table “what is your ‘Super Power’–some quality that others know you for, even if it’s something outrageous and seemingly useless?” Initially, when the first identified speaker has to “toot” his own horn, there is an awkward pause, but then the energy mobilizes as people coin phrases for their outstanding characteristics such as “Social Ambassador,” “Cyber Jockey,” “People Magnet,” and “Baby Whisperer.”
Although most of us can identify at least one “Super Power” and we may have a vague sense of what others appreciate about us, we often don’t have an articulated picture of our strengths. One of our favorite tools for doing just that is a wonderful online resource, the Values in Action Survey, a questionnaire that identifies outstanding “Signature Strengths.” Other online strength assessments include the Capp Realise 2, which differentiates between strengths that energize us and those that deplete us or the Clifton Strengths Finder, which is especially useful in identifying work related strengths.
One of our favorite teachers, Robert Biswas-Diener (whose nickname, “The Indiana Jones of Positive Psychology,” might allude to some of his strengths), suggests that whether we use formal tools or whether we develop our own vocabulary for strengths (like our dinner party guests monikers), we should become “strengths spotters.” We should attend more to not only our own but other people’s outstanding qualities and skills.
Why? Because research shows that a tremendous source of satisfaction and happiness comes from the sense of engagement and focus we feel when we when we are mobilizing our strengths and helping others capitalize on theirs.
One of our Super Powers at Creative Wellbeing Workshops is gleeful enjoyment of the artistic uniqueness in people’s artwork (especially those folks who insist they don’t have any artistic skill). We love seeing those artists find meaning in the artistic choices they deliberately or, often accidentally, made. For us, their artwork beautifully illustrates their “signature” strengths! Maybe that makes us “Starry-Eyed Art Gazers.”
What is your “Super Power”?
Tell us about your super strengths below. we’d love to hear your feedback.
Art Directive for Strengths
We always like to offer an art directive: Draw a symbol for one or more of your strengths–it can be using just color, line, or shape but you can also think of an animal or an object.
Here are links to some of the assessment tools to which we have been referring:
The Values in Action Survey is free and available on the Authentic Happiness website. You will have to create a login and then you will be able to take that and also many of the other questionnaires they offer such as approaches to happiness, optimism, and life satisfaction.
The Capp Realise 2 assessment is available for a small fee. It is incredibly useful in differentiating strengths which energize us and those that might deplete us.
The Gallup Institute has an online Strengths Center and strengths assessment tools available for a nominal fee.