“Nothing stops the man who desires to achieve. Every obstacle is an opportunity to refine your skills for success.” Unknown author
What can we do to develop and refine our skills. I think that we are born with certain tendencies which are then shaped and formed by our experiences as children. Some of us will be very determined even as a young child; my son Jason was that way and it has served him well and I am pretty sure it will continue to do so. I’ve always thought he was born that way.
My self on the other hand was very shy and uncertain. I was one of those children who would hide behind my mother’s skirts while holding on to her for security. Thankfully we can change as we grow and learn and are exposed to new things.
Sometimes we change out of necessity and sometimes choice. Necessity would be a child with no guidance at home forcing them to grow up/change early in life for survival. Hopefully the right choices are made or someone comes along who cares enough to help.
I was a single mother so I found some determination of my own and started making choices that would be beneficial for myself and for my children. To move ahead I had to hone my abilities and develop new skills.
I went back to work and started at an entry level job and then moved forward, progressing from a teller to a branch manager. Fortunately I worked for a company where at that time the opportunities were available. I was at the right place at the right time.
There were many training classes, both at work and at local colleges. Then I started going part time at night to a community college. I received an associates degree. When that happened I was happy and proud but it also brought me to a crossroads. I realized it would take me years to complete a bachelors degree. What should I do ?
It was kind of daunting looking forward. Then I found a college that offered an accelerated program called an Adult Professional Studies Program where I could complete my degree. I had to write a paper to be accepted into the program and then many, many more that were used to earn extra credit for life experience. I went to an actual class once a week with several different professors. I did this for one year and wrote a thesis to finish. At the end of that year I received my bachelor’s degree with honors. A lot of work, stressful at times, but so worth it.
So what skills did I learn and/or refine and how long did it take me?
First and foremost would be writing skills. Part of the job I had involved writing, such as performance reviews and reports, writing letters to customers. All of the college courses I took required that in some form or another either writing or doing oral presentations. Completing my bachelors degree and then my thesis required so much writing. So yes, I did refine my skills. Now writing this blog I am starting to refine my skills again.
Communication skills which include writing, speaking and our non-verbal communication. People will judge us on each so they are all important. I remember going to a conference with one of my bosses and listened to her as she watched and assessed a co-worker. How she was dressed, how she was sitting/standing, her posture, the fact that she was chewing gum. We all do it each time we go somewhere; we make a judgement on other people and they are doing the same to us. So it is an extremely important skill. We have to be self aware.
How we talk literally is also a skill and it is one we can practice. Are we using proper grammar and do we speak clearly. Can people hear us and are we pronouncing correctly. Watch and listen to other people. It can be in any setting and then decide if you enjoyed listening and why.
Learning to communicate and be at ease doing it was a life long learning experience for me. It is a skill you have to want to do and, if you want to be successful, you need to learn.
You need to be motivated to learn and refine any skill. My motivation was need. Yours may be something different. I do feel the more you are truly interested in, and excited about learning any skill, the easier it will be.
We all have different ways of learning and it is good to know which is the easiest form for you. There are 4 learning modalities which are visual, auditory, reading/writing and kinesthetic. I think it is correct to say that we use all of these modalities to learn. We will learn better and more easily with one over another. I prefer visually and hands on which is kinesthetic. Some people will have the ability to learn quickly just by reading.
When I took economics in college it was difficult for me, it just did not excite me. I did a lot of listening and reading and writing but it was more difficult for me to understand. I understood the basics and understood the connection to everyday life but was not challenged enough to put in more effort. There will always be those things that you are not motivated by. *Sometimes something will excite you to put in the effort even when you consider it too difficult.
I read a really good, easy to read and understand article titled, 4 Tips to Dramatically Improve Any Skill, written By Jeff Haden, Contributing editor, Inc.
I recommend reading it because it has a good explanation of a method called the R.E.P.S. gauge which is part of a book written by Daniel Coyle. I am not going to copy it but you can read about it here: https://www.inc.com/jeff-haden/4-tips-to-dramatically-improve-any-skill.html
“We are often taught that talent begins with genetic gifts–that the talented are able to effortlessly perform feats the rest of us can only dream about. This is false. *Talent begins with brief, powerful encounters that spark motivation by linking your identity to a high-performing person or group. This is called ignition, and it consists of a tiny, world-shifting thought lighting up your unconscious mind: “I could be them.”
That’s the introduction to Daniel Coyle’s The Little Book of Talent, a book filled with 52 easy, proven methods to improve almost any skill. This book is available at Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Little-Book-Talent-Improving-Skills/dp/034553025X
I have not read it yet but it is on my list to read, including his first book “The Talent Code” which is recommended to be read first.
To learn and improve any skill I think the following are very important.
- The Desire to Succeed
- Challenge yourself – set goals
- Be open to advice and search out good sources all the time. Find a mentor you admire and trust
- Determine your weaknesses and look for good, solid ways to fix them
- Do not be afraid of failure – you will learn more and remember what you learn better for it
- Think outside the box. Do not be afraid to try something unusual
- Be Enthusiastic
- Set a goal(s) and create a plan, a course of action needed to achieve that goal
- Create a time schedule, but be flexible
- Allow time to step back and assess where you are
- Reward yourself
- Do not stop. Always try to expose yourself to new skills and learn something new.
- Make learning a habit.
References: other articles I have read which may be helpful and/or add additional information.
8 Timeless Skills to Learn Now in Under 8 Hours to Change Your Life Forever. https://medium.com/swlh/8-timeless-skills-to-learn-now-in-under-8-hours-to-change-your-life-forever-75e7b339373a
How to Acquire any New skill in 20 Hours or Less
This last reference below is a list of other references which I have not read at this point but will be in the near future.
The 10 Best Secrets To Learning A New Skill
“Learning is not attained by chance. It must be sought for with ardor and attended to with diligence” Abigail Adams
As always thank you for reading my blog. Have a great day !