Putting your strengths to work

The Values in Action (VIA) Survey of Character Strengths is a simple, practical self-assessment that identifies and ranks your core characteristics and strengths. You need to create a free account and the test takes 20 minutes. It is one of my favourite tools and I’ve seen many clients use it to create positive changes in their own and others lives.

It’s a key tool in positive psychology tested in multiple research studies. Over 3 million people in 190 countries have used it to enhance their ability to:

  • Build healthy personal and professional relationships

  • Become more creative and productive

  • Be more resilient in the face of challenges and set backs

  • Focus on helping others to find a genuinely satisfying sense of purpose and direction

Putting your values into action

I suggest working with your VIA results by taking each of your top 5 strengths or values and asking yourself, “How do I feel and act when I’m living that value?”

For me, humility is top so I prefer ‘letting my accomplishments speak for themselves’. I’m uncomfortable with singing my own praises and with people who confidently blow their own trumpets.  Armed with this awareness I can pre-empt my urge for spikiness when I’m dealing with shameless or even moderate self-promoters.

Observing our strengths under pressure can also alert us to skills we need to hone. A moment of absolute awkwardness in a recent marketing course, highlighted just how much I need to develop skillful ways to sell my services. My challenge is to build these skills to fit naturally with my innately modest self.

Leadership and fairness are also key values for me. In tandem these two interlocking strengths have shaped my career and made me an adept and savvy project manager in the not for profit sectors where I worked for Clean Up Australia, CanTeen and Caritas Australia. I became skilled in:

  • balancing competing interests

  • keeping everyone involved

  • getting stuff done


Injustice and faltering leadership never fail to rile me. However, knowing that not everyone shares these core values in spades, helps me to look for other strengths in play and apply my own abilities wisely. This involves consciously boosting one of my lesser strengths - forgiveness by accepting other’s shortcomings, giving second chances and practicing kindness. 

Kindness is my fourth core value and I aim to practice it every day. Occasionally my sense of fairness challenges the wisdom of doing helpful things for others. When my partner left a load of dishes from a dinner her hosted on the bench for 24 hours I had two choices. Feel annoyed at the unfairness of his failure to clean up his mess or opt for kindness and clean up knowing he was having a particularly busy, stressful day.

I packed the dishwasher!

Judgment is my fifth and favourite strength. It’s an ally of fairness and helps me make sound even-handed decisions based on examining all the evidence.  I’m a natural researcher who loves looking at things from different perspectives to uncover new insights.

As a coach I draw on this value to ask questions that give clients the chance to view a challenge, a goal, or an opportunity differently. We learn something new about ourselves when we consider a situation from a forgotten or underrated angle.

Keen to put your VIA results into practice? I can help.

By Jo Green, Career Change Coach

I know what it feels like to be lost in your career. I also know that when you find what you love, heart and soul, your life changes. I work every day with people who are reshaping their current careers, starting new enterprises or searching for a new direction. Basically I help people who don’t like their job to figure out what to do instead!

As a Careershifters and Firework Advanced Certified Coach and experienced career changer myself, I can help you figure out what fulfilling work looks like for you.

Drop me a note to organise a free 20 minute consultation to chat about your career change and how coaching could help.