Thomas Oppong Jun 2021
We spend a lot of time in school learning things we rarely use in life.
And then, a massive chunk of our lives after formal education, gathering practical knowledge to build a good life. The irony of learning in school is that we don’t apply much of what we learn in our lives.
The practical skills to build a great life is learned through experimentation, imitation and deliberate self-learning.
Success is built on permanent skills, but society values hard skills more. Therefore, people are encouraged to learn hard skills to be “successful” in life.
Traditional skills (engineering, programming, accounting, expertise, etc.) are easy to measure and job-specific. The problem is, not all skills are permanent. Some skills are valuable for a while, and then they become obsolete as technology evolves and gets better at doing specific tasks.
Many people have lost their jobs because employers found a faster way to save money. If your skills are indispensable, you are among the lucky few who can rely on their skills for as long as possible.
Permanent skills have been around for centuries. They help people navigate life and do their jobs effectively.
Successful people learn both hard skills (through formal education) and permanent skills (via self-learning) to become efficient or effective humans. Their permanent skills complement their hard skills.
Sheryl Sandberg once said, “Build your skills, not your resume.”
A few permanent skills that can help you thrive in the next decade.
Dealing with uncertainties and change
In the wake of the pandemic, your ability to rise above things you cannot control is now more important than ever. How you react when most things are out of your control changes determines your level of stress and anxiety.
“Knowing how to live with insecurity is the only security,” says mathematician John Allen Paulos. Of course, there are no guarantees in life, but knowing what you can and can’t control can help you plan for inevitable change.
When you are worried about the future, focus on the outcomes you can control and be proactive about them. And always remember, don’t believe everything you think, live in the present but be proactive about the future.
The ability to spend and invest time wisely
Time is all we have to do more great work, change, improve, learn or make money. How are you spending your time? If you are bad at using time, you won’t get anywhere in life. Time management skill is what separates successful people from everyone else.
“Time is what we want most, but what we use worst,” is one of my favourite quotes. William Penn said that. It’s a powerful statement that reminds us of the shortness of life. You can achieve almost anything if you learn how to invest, spend or save time.
The willingness to change your mind
If you can’t change your mind, you can’t improve, can’t adapt, and can’t work with people.
You are not right all the time. Your reality is only the only truth. So it’s vital to maintain an open mind. “Progress is impossible without change; and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.” George Bernard Shaw said.
Your perceptions, assumptions, beliefs, and mental models inform your life choices — improving them can help you make better judgements. When the facts change, I change my mind.” John Maynard Keynes said.
The ability to understand emotional language
Humans are social beings. We communicate through language, emotions and body language. If you want to get far, influence people, change minds or make friends, develop a better understanding of your emotions to respond better to how other’s feel.
“In a very real sense we have two minds, one that thinks and one that feels.”Daniel Goleman said. Nurture your emotional brain. You can do a lot better in life if you understand the emotions of others deeply.
The art of persuasion is an emotional job. Emotional skills improve our relationship with ourselves, which helps us build healthy relationships with the people we love and those we work with.
The ability to think through problems and situations
The decisions we make (small and big) in life have long-term consequences on ourselves and the people we care about.
Learning to think could mean the difference between good decisions and bad ones. “He who thinks little errs much.” Leonardo Da Vinci said.
In almost every decision-making process, we have multiple options to consider. Knowing the consequences of every course of action, their short-term effects and long-term implications can help you make better judgements.
Permanent skills don’t get old. They won’t become obsolete. You will continue to rely on them over and over again to build a good life. And the good news is, these permanent skills can be learned.
“All skills are learnable.” Brian Tracy said. You can improve yourself every day to become a skilful and better human.