Develop Your Character Strengths – 50 for 50 Ideas #38 and 42

posted on: October 30, 2018
author: Brian Lomax

Character strengths

“Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.”

-John Wooden

Your character as a person is a set of qualities and skills that makes you uniquely you.  It’s an important concept to consider, but not one that often gets the amount of attention it deserves.  We all like to think of ourselves as good people, and perhaps that’s why we don’t necessarily spend a lot of time on developing our character skills.  We think we’re good already.  However, I believe a person’s character is like a set of muscles that can be trained and developed.  If we want to develop good character, we need to practice the skills and put them into action.

Idea #42 – Discover Your Character Strengths

To get started, let’s get a baseline of your character strengths today.  There are many assessments and surveys that you could use, but I’m going to suggest you start with the free VIA character survey.  It will take you about 15 minutes and at the end you’ll get a free report with character strengths ranked from 1 to 24.  Your top 5 are your major character strengths at this moment in time (they may change over time).  These are the strengths that you’ll want to incorporate into your life even more.

To give you a sense of what your report might look like, here are my top 5:

  1. Love of Learning
  2. Judgment
  3. Forgiveness
  4. Perspective
  5. Prudence

I’ve taken this survey a few times over the years, and Love of Learning has always been in my top 5.  The last two times I took the survey, it was number one.  In 2014, I decided to capitalize on this particular skill, and now it is something that drives much of what I do in my life from taking courses, learning/practicing Spanish, to using competition as a way of improving.  I feel much more fulfilled as a person because I am actively practicing this character skill.

After you take the survey and get your results, look at this pdf on ways to use your character strengths more.  The list is from 2008 so some of the references are a little dated, but there are many good suggestions on ways to practice your strengths.

Idea #38 – Who do you want to be?

Now that you know your character strengths, I want you to do another exercise in which you can incorporate that knowledge.  Let’s say that you are going to be inducted into some sport hall of fame.  How would you like the people at the induction ceremony to describe you as a competitor?  How would you like them to describe your character?

You might say that in this exercise that I’m confusing character with reputation.  It’s true; I’m asking you what you want other people to think of you. However, I want to turn this into an aspirational exercise.  If this is what you want people to say about you at some point in the future, it is your job to take deliberate action on that now and every day.  That’s the only way you can hope that this comes true.  You are going to aspire to be this competitor and this person.  Another version of this exercise is to write your own obituary, but that sounds a bit morbid to me.

Not only do we want to take action on this vision of our future selves, but we’ll need reminders of the vision along the way.  Here are some ways to periodically remind yourself of who you want to be:

  • Read your answer to, “How I want others to describe me as a competitor?”
  • Create a Word Cloud with the your most important character skills and strengths.  I did this in PowerPoint and have a couple of copies posted in my home.
  • Journal about your character strengths and how you used them throughout the day.  A journal like the Daily Stoic Journal can also be helpful as it provides writing prompts that help you practice various parts of your character.
  • Write each of your character strengths on a flashcard, and pick one per day.  Look to incorporate that character strength into your day.

With intentional practice, you can use this aspirational view of your character to be that person of good character that you want to be.  In my opinion, this will make your journey through life a more fulfilling one.  I wish you well on this journey of self-discovery.

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About the Author

Brian Lomax founded PerformanceXtra™ in 2009 with a mission of helping athletes achieve their goals and their top performances more consistently through a progression of mental skills that enables them to focus on what is truly important.

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