Preview: The Power of Character Strengths Book, by Robert McGrath and Ryan Niemiec


My name is Bob McGrath, I’m a professor of
psychology and the Director of Psychology at a university called Fairleigh Dickinson
in Teaneck, New Jersey. I’ve been here a long, long time, and I’m also a senior scientist
with the VIA Institute on Character. I’ve been working with them for about six
years now and it’s been a really exciting partnership. We’ve in that time done, I think
15 articles together, and so it’s really been very productive in terms of research and thinking
about issues of character and what it means to be a person of strength. And I guess about
two years ago, I went to Neal Mayerson, who is the head of VIA Institute and I said, “I
think you guys really should consider doing a book.” And Neil Mayerson said to me, “Well,
isn’t that funny? Ryan Niemiec is doing a book.” And so Ryan and I started talking and
we started writing and Ryan, much more so than I did, I’m happy to say, and here we
are two years later with our book, “The Power of Character Strengths” My name is Ryan Niemiec, and I’m a psychologist
and the Education Director of the VIA Institute on Character. And so my job is to understand
what’s the latest research happening in character strengths around the world and what are some
of the leading practitioners doing and business and health and education, parenting, disability,
and so on, and to try to form a bridge between those two, to try to grab some of the most
practical, interesting, insightful nuggets from the research and to make it useful for
people . The power of character strengths that we put
together here is organized in a very specific way. So after an introduction that speaks
to why character strengths matter, we go through each of the 24 character strengths and we
really get at the what, the why, and the how. So really, “What is prudence? What is gratitude?
What is teamwork?” And then the why of each one. So, “Why does teamwork matter? Why does
spirituality matter? Why does creativity matter? So what is the research saying about each
of these?” And then the bulk of each focus is on the how. And so, “How do you bring these
forth into your life?” And so for each strength, we look to different stories as examples.
We look to reflection questions people can ask, we look to different activities, so activities
you can use at work and your relationships or in your community to build up curiosity
or love or bravery, perseverance, whatever it might be. And then we also focus on overuse to under-use
and optimal use of each of these 24 character strengths. So that right there on the 24 is
the bulk of the book, the main point of the book, where people can read it in bits and
pieces and they can use it or they can use that as a reference guide. And then after
that we move into a very practical user friendly program called Strengths Builder, which is
a four-step program that anybody can just simply pick up and begin to make greater sense
of their strengths, begin to strength spot in other people, begin to put forth their
strengths in a more detailed way. It’s really meant to be practical. Ryan mentioned
spending a lot of time on the how of each of the character’s strengths, how do you build
it? How do you use it more effectively? Between that and the Strengths Builder, we’re really
saying, “Okay, the character strengths are nice,” and we start by describing them, but
then we really get into, “How are you going to use them in a way that matters to you.
How can you use them to make your life a better place for you?” So all of this VIA work, the VIA survey, the
VIA classification, this new book, “The Power of Character Strengths”, all of this is really
trying to do many different things, but at least two. So one of those two things is we’re
trying to help to amplify the good, trying to amplify what’s already good within you,
help you become more aware of it and bring it more forward in your life. And then the second piece is to help to manage
the struggles, to manage the difficulties and the conflicts and the stresses in life.
And we know that character strengths have a really central role in doing both of those
things. They help us to build on this good and amplify the good and they help us to manage
the struggles and the stressors of life. We think that exploring your strengths is
a way for you to become more confident, more comfortable with yourself, more willing to
take risks in life, more productive, happier, more satisfied with your relationships, and
a better person. If those are goals that interest you, then this book may be for you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *