5 min read
min read

How to Develop a Powerful Set of Skills

I’ll admit it — I’m a sucker for the movie, Taken. Growing up in the golden age of vigilante films, I can spot a good one when I see it. Taken was a fine exhibition of this genre. One-man wrecking crews like Steven Seagal, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone were once all the rage, seemingly armed with a never-ending arsenal of skills that enabled them to take down entire villages and cities.

These warriors always had a crime to avenge and often very personal ones, at that. This post is not meant to laud action films but rather to help you tap into that indescribable greatness that’s inside of you. Or as Liam Neeson’s character, Bryan Mills would say, “Your very particular set of skills.”

Knowledge is not skill. Knowledge plus ten thousand times is skill. — Shinichi Suzuki

We’ve all acquired our own, “particular set of skills”, from a variety of personal, educational and professional experiences. Bryan Mills’ skills were acquired through — we can only imagine — what was a long, brutal career working for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

Chances are, like me, you’re not a spy. We’re fighting less strenuous battles, but hardly less consequential. In our pursuits, we’re developing skills. We’re thinking deeply about who we want to be and what values that will give to our life and to those we love. We should concentrate maximum energy and effort toward building these skills so they become strengths.

Life Tests Us

There is no innovation and creativity without failure. Period. — Brene Brown

Life isn’t easy, in fact, life often presents us with significant physical, mental, spiritual and emotional challenges. On the spiritual side, we’re tempted in a multitude of ways to live a life that wars with the inner core — the true self — of who we really are.

On the mental, emotional and even physical side, many of us will change jobs, deal with business setbacks and even deal with the personal loss. We have to then manage the awful pain that accompanies those losses. We meet temporary failure pursuing our dreams.

As we keep progressing through life, it only becomes easier to let these difficult experiences define who we are. The path of least resistance emerges as a simple choice for many people. We find ourselves unhappy with our circumstances, and we’re beaten down from setbacks that weaken our willpower and lead to complacency. It becomes easy to give in.

But we must never give in to that which we know is not right for us. We have to live with self-awareness in order to avoid repeating previous mistakes and increase our skill set. Once we have gained the value from our mistakes, triumphs and all experiences, we’re better equipped for anything the future will throw at us.

Complacency is the enemy of achievement. Adversity will stare all of us down, time and time again throughout our lives. The question we continually face will be: “How do we respond?” A wise person once said,

“Your desire to change must be greater than your desire to stay the same.”

Examine Yourself

“Don’t waste life in doubts and fears; spend yourself on the work before you, well assured that the right performance of this hour’s duties will be the best preparation for the hours and ages that will follow it.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

As an author, I write about emotional intelligence and having the discipline to build a routine each day that maximizes your talent and skills.

The way to continue evolving and developing your unique, particular set of skills is to strive for improvement every day. You have to have goals in mind for what you want to accomplish. It’s best to view your picture in a holistic manner, taking into account your professional ambitions and skills, as well as the interpersonal and life skills you use each day.

Do you have an idea of what that picture looks like for your life?

Our personal and professional skills can always use a boost. Difficult times test us and shape who we are. Make sure that you let them shape you for the better. I encourage you to write out your current skills in the following four areas of your life:

1) Mental
2) Spiritual
3) Emotional
4) Physical

You’ll be amazed at what you put down on paper when you’re honest with yourself. Once you have written your current state, your mission is to bridge the gap between where you and where you desire to be in the future state.

When I haven’t been happy with my spiritual life, I’ve made it a plan to turn to search my soul and ask myself the difficult questions to understand why there is a lack of peace and harmony in my life. I have turned to my faith, relied on the help of others, but I have also sought time alone in solitude for reflection and contemplation.

When I felt like I was in a rut in my career, I reached out to trusted friends and mentors for advice. I improved my resume, networked ‘like a boss’ and determined what I needed in order to improve my skills. When I was having relationship difficulties or hurting emotionally, I turned to my family and friends for comfort and refuge. Fortunately, they have always had my back.

The Hunger For More

“Hope is like the sun, which, as we journey toward it, casts the shadow of our burden behind us.” — Samuel Smiles

I’ve watched too many leaders become content with their own arsenal of skills — regardless of comparative depth — and then trudge on, for better or worse, finding whatever satisfaction and success they can. This is no way to live. We should always strive for greater things and empower ourselves through inspiration and the desire to seek greater meaning.

I’ve increasingly developed a burning desire to challenge my experiential status quo and hunger for more. Something more soothing to the soul — more in line with what moves me inside and feels like home. This desire is visualized in my mind — imagined and obsessed over and then put into plan so it will become my reality.

Connecting this bridge between what is imagined and what is actionable will lead to a flourish of excitement and a horizon of new opportunities. It’s a matter of you taking your current state, reconciling it with where you want to be, and determining how to do the work to help you get there in the most efficient way possible.

Along the way, fears and the voice inside our heads will occasionally remind us that we can’t do it. Just remember that you have your current and future state analysis to serve as your guide. When you put in writing what you need to do to find self-fulfillment and happiness, you’ll have a road map that guides and plots your path, when doubts arise.

We're all born with a particular set of skills that we are meant to share with the world. What are yours?

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