Understanding your Strengths – Excess and Absence

In the final course of the Positive Psychology series I am taking (Coursera link here), they delved more into strengths. I’ve been intrigued with utilization of my Signature Strengths since it was first introduced in this course.  My focus has been how to utilize my Signature Strengths in areas OTHER THAN working.  How to use Signature Strengths at work was a lot more obvious.  Thinking how to continue to use Signature Strengths into retirement, and not necessarily with it being (paid or unpaid) work, is a huge opportunity for anyone in retirement transition.

The most recent information shared in the course introduced the insight of a range of the strength.   The range for a specific strengths goes from Excess (over-use) to Absence (under-use), as well as having a full Opposite.  In almost all cases, Excess and Opposite are both negative spaces to be behaving.  The under-use area was highly insightful to me as I was able to recognize my behaviors, leading me to realize I am currently under-utilizing a few of my Signature Strengths!  When we overuse our Signature Strength, this is usually called our shadow side, and is often us not at our best.  I find myself often over-using my Signature Strength of judgment/critical thinking.

Here are a few examples of the 24 strengths, with their excess and absence:

Excess (over use)StrengthAbsence (under use)
Eccentricity/WeirdnessCreativity/ OriginalityConformity/ Rigidity
Nosiness/PryingCuriosity/ Open to ExperiencesDisinterest/ Apathy
Cynicism/ Skepticism/ CondemnationJudgment/ Critical Thinking/ Open-mindednessIneffectiveness/ Indecisiveness/ Unreflective
Obsessiveness/FixationPersistence/ Perseverance/ CommitmentLaziness/ Inertia
Self-depreciationHumility/ ModerationAffectation/Pretention
Inhibition/ Shackled/ RestrictedSelf-Regulation/ Discipline/ Self-ControlSelf-Indulgence

I also found this great article of ideas on things you can do to utilize the various strengths. (link here = 340ways)  Many of the ideas are not work related and have given me some great ideas to increase my use of my under-utilized Signature Strengths.   I have also pulled ideas on strengths I would like to build.  Here is another site with similar information on strengths and how to build then up or utilize them better: link here to build your strengths article.

As you transition into retirement, have you considered how you will utilize your own Signature Strengths away from the workplace?  Or if you are already retired, do you feel you are adequately utilizing your own Signature Strengths?

If you’re uncertain of what your Signature Strengths are, link here for a how to identify them.

Picture Credit: Me: a sunrise this week.

6 thoughts on “Understanding your Strengths – Excess and Absence

  1. Lovely sunrise photo. Someone was up early. Or two someones. You and your subject.

    I think I have channeled my strengths into hobbies. And into helping a few friends in need. I like the chart you provided with examples of excess and absence of a certain trait or strength. I try to be mindful of being intrusive when I am trying to help a friend. Often times I think to myself would this be overboard and borderline ‘too much’ if someone was doing this for me? Not that my little bits of help are anything but just that. Simple things. But I would never want to be intrusive.

    Have you all figured out what is to be moved down to Florida? I am going to be in Orlando for Disney World this week and weekend. Surprising my granddaughter. Can’t wait. The weather looks perfect.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Leslie, It’s lovely that you’ve been able to channel your strengths into your hobbies! I’m still struggling a bit with using mine outside of a work environment.

      That might be the last sunrise for awhile…especially with the time change! The lighting was so unusual that morning; in another few seconds, the light rays were gone. I’m certainly not a photographer, but I loved how the rays looked like they were beaming on hubby!

      We are back to Ohio – gray skies and cool temps. But hoping to get moving on the move – putting together my lists and making some decisions!


    1. Janet, I did Strengthsfinders twice through my career. It was interesting to see them shift over about a 3 year period of time. I recall in the second one, I was actively working on some skills, and they showed up in strengths, which I recall thinking was a bit odd. I might have to go revisit and then look to see in they fall into similar places as the VIA ones where they have outlined excessive and underutilized. Thanks for the nudge on that!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Pat – it was really interesting to see the good and bad of each of the strengths – so easy to tip one way or the other isn’t it? But I like how it makes us aware of the fact that a strength can become a liability if we don’t utilize it properly. I’ll be thinking about this more in the weeks ahead – and checking in to see if I’m swinging too far one way or the other and trying to bring myself back to that centre column more.

    Liked by 1 person

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