It’s been a long, long night

Last night was another one of those nights that I just couldn’t sleep. For as long as I can remember, I have gone through brief periods of insomnia and/or periods that I wake up in the middle of the night and can’t fall back asleep. They have never been related to stress or any other factor that I have noticed. Sometimes, these turn out to be productive periods of time. After all, if I not sleeping, at least I can get something out of it. I exhaust some time reading several items that had backed up in my Google Reader feeds.

One of the blogs that I read, Employee Evolution, focuses on Millenials (I hate this label) in the workplace. While I was aimlessly reading articles, I came across a survey to evaluate your character strengths. And at 4 a.m., who can resist? Normally, I don’t go for surveys. After all, how much do you really learn about yourself by determining which Harry Potter or Sex and City character you resemble?

The VIA Signature Strengths Survey ranks you on 24 character strengths. Knowing your strengths will allow you to capitalize on them more often. This is one of several surveys offered by the University of Pennsylvania Positive Psychology Center. So I answered all 240 items and here are my top 5 strengths.

  1. Love of learning
  2. Judgment, critical thinking, and open-mindedness
  3. Perspective (wisdom)
  4. Honesty, authenticity, and genuineness
  5. Fairness, equity and justice

What do you think? Does that sound like me? At first, I thought that the last two maybe should not have been ranked so high. After all, I don’t feel like I will pull a George Washington in the near future. But then I realized that the reason that these characteristics are so strong for me is that I seek them in other people. I admire people who can admit honest mistakes and don’t try to change themselves to fit others’ expectations. I avoid people who seem to give compliments only for self-serving purposes. (As any Yalie knows, there is always that one kid in section/seminar who says things just to get noticed by the TA/professor as some young genius.) My desire for fairness and equity has been an academic interest and a key and enduring component of my interests outside of the classroom.

This was the first time that I feel that taking one of these personality assessment types actually might have given some perspective to why I want to do the things that I do rather than handing me some arcane label such as INFP. Now if only I could translate those characteristics into a dream job…

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