I use Via Strengths as a tool to assess values based strengths. One thing I like about this protocol is it's scientifically measured, researched, and standardized. It has excellent resources and tools to support my work in developing clients' inherent strengths and values.
I've worked with a few clients recently who have kindness as their top strengths. Interestingly they had not considered or given it any thought as a strength. Without acknowledging or being aware of this as a strength, how could they value, celebrate, and honour who they are? The research states when you are in your highest values and strengths you will be your most fulfilled, satisfied, productive, motivated and happy. The obstacle is when you are not consciously aware of your unique strengths, you are at risk of adopting somebody else's. If you are living in another person's values and strengths, it will be problematic for you in various ways, such as internal and external conflicts in your life.
The research points out, that while we all have the capacity to access each of the 24 character strengths they are like different muscles we flex, but we each have a higher leaning towards specific strengths; they express themselves in a way that's uniquely specific to you. Kindness for you could look like: acts of compassion, service to others, care for animals, a caring spirit, self-sacrifice.
My husband ranks high in the strength of kindness as does a couple of my children. VIA calls this your signature strength when 24 characteristics are ranked high (in your top 5- 7) out of all 24 strengths listed. "Signature strengths" when expressed are especially fulfilling and meaningful to you as a person. When these strengths are present with your interactions and engagement in life you are in deep alignment with the very essence of who you are. When you are not able to express this strength you might feel off or out of your comfort.
The interesting thing about my husband's strength profile is he also has the strength of judgement in his top 5 strength. Judgment is described by VIA as someone having strong thinking skills, logical, and an ability to assess situations rationally weighing all sides of the matter. Kindness is a heart-based strength while judgement is a head based (thinking) strength. The balance of these two strengths helps to use his strength of kindness clearly and intelligently meaning he can use this strength judiciously, productively or effectively. For my husband, this looks like serving others with respect and integrity no matter who you are.
Kindness is a great strength and the world is in short supply of it. But kindness like any strength also has the risk of being a weakness if it isn't stewarded properly.
For those who haven't acknowledged or taken ownership of this strength, take some time to begin to notice it, acknowledging this strength, celebrating and relishing in it. Guard it against others who might take advantage of it. Honour it as a unique contribution that you bring to the world. Look for people who appreciate this strength in you. Those are the people who's friendships will enrich you.
If you would like to learn more about values and strengths visit VIA character Strengths
Do you know someone who has the strength of kindness or has a strong value for this strength? Share this blog post with them. Read more about this strength of kindness here.