As the U.S. federal government “partial shutdown” continues, there’s a lot of heated rhetoric about what’s wrong with people. This morning I revisited a helpful tool that explores what’s already working well: a person’s “character strengths.”

The Values in Action (VIA) assessment can be accessed for free at the VIA Institute on Character, a site created by “positive psychology” guru Dr. Martin Seligman. The instrument involves 240 questions posed from various angles that result in a report ranking an individual’s 24 strengths, with a special emphasis on the top five. The VIA site offers additional, inexpensive tools that can help a person or group of individuals go a little deeper into the assessment results.

I first learned of this assessment a year ago during an executive coaching class, and completed it again today–with similar results! The instrument’s emphasis on character and values makes it unique compared to other helpful assessments such as Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, DiSC and StrengthsFinder. I encourage you to check it out, and contact me if I can support your interpretation through some executive coaching.