The Measure of a Person

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If you have been following my blog postings over the past few years you will see that I keep coming back to the topic of the true self.  Here are some more ideas for you to ponder and discuss especially how one can measure this core human characteristic.  The “True Self”:

1.    Runs like a golden thread throughout our lives.

When I was eight years old my parents gave me a bicycle for my birthday. It was one of my prized possessions over a period of many years. I rode it to school, played bike polo, and gave rides to my friends and younger brother. There were of course the accidents where I skinned my knees, my brother fell off and broke his arm, and I dinged up the bike pretty badly on numerous occasions. I painted it many times, changed features depending on current styles (and available funds). There were so many changes to the bike but it always remained the same bike.

Likewise we remain the same inner true self through all the changing scenes of life. We make wise or unwise choices, have different degrees of self-awareness, and get lost in all the expressions of the false self like depending on achievement for our identity. But despite all our escapades, like my childhood bike, the essential you is always there.

So now let’s move from the abstract to the concrete and practical. How is this self expressed?

2.    Is expressed through our signature strengths

A business leader was recently asked in an interview when she first knew that she was a leader. She recounted an incident when she was in kindergarten. Each day she caught the bus to school at the stop down the street from her home. She was the only child that was picked up at that point on the bus route. Her mother recalled how her young daughter persuaded the bus driver to stop the bus outside the front door of her home instead of the regular bus stop. She manifested her leadership ability at a very early age and it became a consistent characteristic through of the rest of her life.

As you review the various decades of your life are there not personal characteristics or signature strengths that featured again and again no matter what was occurring in that decade? Did you always value wisdom? Were you always consistently empathic and compassionate? Were you drawn to the creative and innovative? Did you always love clarity of thought? Have people consistently described you as kind and generous?

What are your core character traits or signature strengths?

A Way To Identify and Measure a Manifestation of Your True Self

Martin Seligman, Ph.D., professor at the University of Pennsylvania has developed a test that will quickly help you identify your top core character strengths. It is the VIA Survey of Character Strengths. It is a free self-evaluation with an instant read out of your results. Go to

These 24 strengths emanate from our true selves and share the following features. They are:

o    Found in every culture.

o   Manifest in different ways and to different degrees in each person. For instance some people have greater empathy capabilities than others.

o    Multifaceted. We all have a number of these strengths.

o    The source of our personal fulfillment. When we express these strengths we are being what we supposed to be and doing what we were designed to do.

You might also want to read a previous posting on this topic  “The Face in The Mirror – What is the True Self?”

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About cedricj

I am a licensed psychologist and management consultant and have always been intrigued by how leaders can inspire people in their organizations. The bottom line is that people are not always motivated by material rewards, the use of the carrot or the stick, fear and intimidation,and command and control, Five human needs inspire and drive us. Kristine S MacKain, Ph.D and myself describe these inspirational forces in our book "What Inspirational Leaders Do" (Kindle 2008)
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