by Nicole Stottlemyer
Want to bring a group together? Here’s a great group-building activity related to VIA strengths that can be used in lots of ways—at a corporate workshop, school event, game night with friends, or even a family reunion!
I call it the Yoga Blocks Bar Graph, because, as you can see in the photo, we use yoga blocks to build a bar graph of our strengths. (If you don’t have yoga blocks, you can use other items; more on that later!)
I did this activity with the Positive Psychology Coaching: Skill-Building Intensive students during our weeklong program at Kripalu this summer (which is my favorite work-week of the year, by the way) and I’m excited to share it with you!
First, a little backstory: My colleague and mentor Phoebe Atkinson and I designed a two-hour game night on the fifth night of the program. We led the Yoga Blocks Bar Graph, along with many other activities, to help ingrain some of the lessons so beautifully led earlier in the week by faculty members Lynda Wallace and Megan McDonough.
Prior to arriving at Kripalu, students were asked to complete the VIA strengths assessment, and prior to the game night, they had many opportunities to talk about their top five strengths—so they were really warmed up for this activity.
Here’s how to do it:
First, lay down a card with the name of each strength written on it. I used the adorable dog-themed strengths deck created by WBI alumnus Lisa Bailey Sullivan. If you don’t have a deck of strengths cards, you can write each strength on a 3×5 card.
Then I asked each member of our group to take five yoga blocks and place one on each of their top five strengths. For example, my top five strengths are creativity, social intelligence, curiosity, fairness, and forgiveness, so I took my five yoga blocks and placed one on each of those cards. As each person placed their blocks, we began to notice that we have A LOT of strengths in common!
After each person has placed their block, ask, “What does this say about our group?” When I asked our group this question, someone remarked, “We have a lot of honesty and social intelligence, but no self-regulation.”
Seconds after we took the photo of our Bar Graph, a waterfall of yoga blocks crashed to the floor. The room filled with laughter.
If you don’t have a ton of yoga blocks or you’re facilitating an extra-large group, just tap into your strength of creativity (or call on mine!) and use something else. Try sticking Post-it notes to a wall, or have each person put a marble in a jar, or thread popcorn on a string … I could come up with a dozen ways (my creativity strength at work!) but you get the idea.
Here’s another option: vases and crumpled post-its. As you can see in the picture, this group didn’t have yoga blocks. This photo is from the Positive Education conference where I was fortunate to join more than 800 attendees from around the world, gathered to accelerate positive education globally.
Whether it’s with a coaching client, in groups, or as a Teaching Assistant for WBI’s Positive Psychology Coaching courses, I have the fun job of helping hundreds of people experience positive psychology every year. If you’re offering workshops and would like to tap into my creativity, let’s talk! And if you use this activity in a group, I’d love to hear about it! Post in the comments, find me on social media, or drop me a line at nicoletalks.com.
If you’re an alumni of WBI, I invite you to check out the networking groups I facilitate virtually (using Zoom) and in person. The next in-person group is in October 13 in New York City. Get the details here. As my colleague Jane Anderson says in her new book, 30 Days of Character Strengths, “Excellence often comes from multiple strengths working together.” And one of the things I love most is working together to create these meet-ups.
Nicole Stottlemyer is a coach, facilitator, and senior teaching assistant with Wholebeing Institute. She holds Wholebeing certificates in Positive Psychology and Positive Psychology Coaching and the WBI award for Community Connector. Nicole facilitates virtual and in-person positive psychology meet-ups and loves collaborating. To contact her, email nicoletalks.com