To be authentic is to know yourself – to know what you stand for, what you value and believe. Yet how often do we reflect on why we do what we do? Over time, your values can shift so taking time to re-evaluate what drives you is key to showing up as authentically as possible.
Our ideas of self are molded at a very early age. Parents, care givers, and teachers encourage certain behaviors that help us integrate with our peers. Oftentimes, we were encouraged to go-along, to get-along. In doing so we learn emotional agility and expand our emotional intelligence.
However, without understanding what drives you, the “go along, to get along” messages may be counter to your actual nature or personality type. For example, “You are so good at following the rules,” doesn’t acknowledge your ability (and desire) to question arbitrary or unfair rules. When this happens, your sense of self becomes misaligned. But you carry on and develop your talents, skills, and interests until one day you realize you are succeeding without fulfillment or meaning.
What Is Driving You?
All humans have four basic drives that are embedded in our genetic DNA and remain active in us today:
- The drive to bond – our desire to connect and form mutually caring relationships
- The drive to acquire – our competitive drive to excel which is a counter-balance to our drive to bond
- The drive to learn – our curiosity is born from this drive; a deep desire to fill the gap between that of which is known and unknown
- The drive to defend – our desire to defend ourselves, our beliefs, loved ones, and resources from harm
These basic drives have helped in our survival as a species. But, what drives us beyond mere survival? How do we go from survive to thrive?
Character Strengths Help Us Thrive
Based on the research conducted by the VIA Institute on Character, character strengths are traits/capacities that are personally fulfilling, uplift others, universal and valued across cultures.
Taking a holistic view, VIA character strengths are categorized by virtues: cognitive strengths (wisdom), emotional strengths (courage), social & community strengths (humanity & justice), protective strengths (temperance), and spiritual strengths (transcendence).
All of these virtues help us thrive. However, our environment and social context contribute to the actions we take. This means we use different strengths according to the situations we encounter. For example, consider the strength of curiosity.
- How much curiosity do you express?
- How much curiosity do you express at work?
- How much curiosity do you express at work when you are with your boss?
- How much curiosity do you express at work when you are with your boss and your boss is in a positive mood?
Notice how your responses may change for each scenario. And if you ask a friend, you may find that their responses are different from yours! Each person has the same character strengths but we express then in different degrees. This is what makes us so unique.
Understanding your individual character strengths can help you understand what drives you, and how you can go from survive to thrive.
Would you like to learn more about your Character Strengths? You can take a FREE survey here.
As a certified Strengths Coach, I can help you interpret your results and learn how to use your strengths to manage stress, life challenges, develop meaningful and fulfilling relationships. My goal is to give my clients that deep sense of being seen and heard, of helping them find the confidence that comes from being grounded in their own wisdom instead of being pulled by the forces around them.