Finding Your Strengths

The first module at Happy Startup School is about passion. One of the exercises has you undertake a survey to uncover your hidden strengths. Once we’ve taken the survey, our task was to think of ways which we can practice the top 3, or 5 every day, to explore them further and find ways of harnessing their positivity into what we do.An element of this reminded me of the Myers Briggs Type Indicator that I completed at the start of last year whilst working with Rachel Gilmore; a fantastic business and personal coach based in Brighton. Rachel was helping me to also understand the things that energise me, make me want to get up in the morning, and to find things that compliment them as well as learning how to function with people that have differing profiles. I had also been working with a personal counsellor at the time to confirm a diagnosis of Aspergers Syndrome. You can see some insight into that below via an Instragram post from them time.

Yesterday saw the results of a number of tests I’ve undertaken in recent months. 6 months of personal counselling, now complimented with a compassionate, understanding and compelling business coach. We analyzed my diagnosis of aspergers, which you can see to the right. To the left is a Myers Briggs report, incredibly enlightening. We are often rewired to compensate for our environment, particularly men being expected to take certain modal positions. Now is the long challenge of working out how to move around the spectrum based on certain situations. I am not convinced by cognitive behavioural therapy so this will be a trying experience, but I am engaged and willing. All of this came from experiencing months of anxiety and paranoia last year and wanting to dig deeper into what was causing it.

A photo posted by Andy Parker (@theavangelist) on

I had remembered that when I was going through the Myers Briggs test that Rachel had said to clear your current thoughts and think about the answers to the questions she posed as if you were at your best, living the best day of your life, because that is what you are wanting to reclaim and understand how to make it a constant rather than an occasion.

Top 5 Strengths

  1. Kindness
    Doing favours and good deeds for others; helping them; taking care of them.
  2. Fairness
    Treating all people the same according to notions of fairness and justice; not letting feelings bias decisions about others; giving everyone a fair chance.
  3. Leadership
    Encouraging a group of which one is a member to get things done and at the same time maintain good relations with the group; organising group activities and seeing that they happen.
  4. Love Of Learning
    Mastering new skills, topics, and bodies of knowledge, whether on one’s own or formally; related to the strength of curiosity but goes beyond it to describe the tendency to add systematically to what one knows.
  5. Judgment
    Thinking things through and examining them from all sides; not jumping to conclusions; being able to change one’s mind in light of evidence; weighing all evidence fairly.

Even I find the fairness and judgment values surprising, I don’t think I’m particularly good at either of these, but perhaps that is because I have been stuck in what is known as The Grip, for a very long time. Could this mental state be causing me to behave out of character to what is really me?

I’m extremely happy to see these super powers already align with my general feeling on what I want to be doing with my life and my own business; helping others, and sharing it with other people. It’s a good sign for the future prospects of We Are AFK.

Harnessing Strength

How am I going to focus on these top 5 strengths to improve my awareness, understanding and use them for good? After all I’m not Dr Doom.

When Cami; my incredibly supportive girlfriend in this venture; asked me what Kindness meant to me, as I was bemoaning that this was an exercise verging on too close to hippidom for my liking, I couldn’t give an answer. I don’t really know what I would constitute as an act of kindness. Many times when somebody mentions something that I’ve done I just think of it as the thing you do for people, I honestly had not considered that other people wouldn’t do the same.

Here’s an example.

There is a guy who regularly sits outside Bagelman on Bond Street in Brighton, he’s a nice guy, but he’s having a hard time. He wont lie to you, if you ask him he will tell you he does have a drug habit, and alcoholism and he’s homeless. On Friday, I was going to buy some lunch from Bagelman on my way to another appointment. He had caught my attention and asked me for some change. I genuinely had no cash. I asked if he would like to have lunch with me instead? He politely declined but did say that a cup of tea would be pretty great. So I bought him a cup of tea. I wasn’t really thinking anything other than, right now I have enough to buy this man a cup of tea. When the lady serving asked me if I wanted sugar I suddenly realised I hadn’t asked so popped my head out the door and asked him (3 was the response, I told him to watch his teeth). The lady then asked if it was for the gentleman outside and we got to chatting. She told me sometimes he has 4, and we wondered if he was on the same January diet everyone else was. Then something unexpected happened. She gave me a discount because I’d done something ‘kind for the day’.

I’m not saying that I’m going to take this Kindness as being my top strength and attempt to up my Karma points by buying endless rounds of tea for people in the street. But the interaction with the lady in Bagelman has made me reflect on my own understanding of what others see as kindness that perhaps I see as just being human. It’s a great point to reflect on as I move forward.

Lots of thoughts filling my mind this weekend as I prepare for week two of the course, hopefully with a few more meetings for potential people to work with in the future too. I’ll write more about anything that’s going on directly relating to We Are AFK, on the blog http://werafk.tumblr.com.

The survey results were created with the free tool from VIA Institute On Character.


Also published on Medium.

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Andy Parker

User Experience Designer, headbanger, biker, skater, gamer from Brighton UK.