Book Excerpts For Students

Why should you care about student strengths?

Strengths language can help keep both you and your student focused on the “good” of a person—what specialized techniques work—even when life situations are not necessarily going well. It is easy to focus on what is wrong, but using strengths can help you take a step back from a conflict situation and get a different, positive view. This can help you and your student understand challenges through a newer, more practical lens that makes it easier to develop strategies that work with what a person already has, rather than what they need. You can appreciate why you feel so strongly about some life aspects, but do not care so much about others. Finally, you can find new ways to connect and build the high quality relationships with colleagues, partners, and students that will extend your collective strengths.

Shantelle: My Strengths

Fairness, Equity, Justice. I have been told numerous times by friends and family that I am “too fair” sometimes, letting others take advantage of me. I disagree that I can be “too fair” to others; I only treat others with such manners because I hope to be treated the same way. No matter the situation in which I am placed, I treat everyone as equally and fairly as I would like to be treated.

Hope and Optimism. My mother always taught me to look at my glass as half-full instead of half-empty. When my friends are going through rough patches in life I am always by their side, reminding them that even though it may not be easy right now, with hard work and consistent effort something good will come because “when one door closes, another door opens.”

Bravery and Valor. When friends get criticized by others, I stand up for them, reminding them they are not alone. Experiencing divorce at a young age was not easy, but part of me is thankful for this because it has not only helped me to appreciate what I do have, but it has also made me a stronger person. My family has taught me to not only stand up for what is right, but also for what I believe. Now I am not afraid to speak my mind, standing up for myself while at the same time respecting others’ opinions.

Spirituality, Sense of Purpose, Meaning. At times, we may feel unloved, betrayed, or as if we do not belong or deserve to live. When someone tells me they are feeling unloved or left out, I remind them how much they mean to not only me, but also how much their family and friends appreciate them. My second character strength, “Hope and Optimism,” helps me with these types of situations because I am able to see the best in any one situation and remind someone how important they are to others and to finding their own purpose in life.

Modesty and Humility. If I receive an award or certificate, I am not the type of person to scream with joy or even wave the certificate in the air. I tend to keep accomplishments to myself and instead focus on other’s accomplishments and good deeds. It is not that I am not proud of myself for accomplishing something, but I do not “seek the spotlight.” I would rather take my time and effort to congratulate others on their achievements than seek recognition for myself.

– from SMART Strengths Copyright 2011: John Yeager, Sherri Fisher, David Shearon