10 Essential Skills For Success

1) Focus Skills

Many people have a difficult time focusing on tasks they want to do or are supposed to do. The problem stems from the fact there is always something better you’d prefer to do. When you are at work, you would rather be browsing sports news or shopping on your favorite merchant’s website, etc. You know you need to do some chores around the house, but would rather catch a ballgame or play that new video game.

Distractions have always existed, but they seem to have taken on a whole new life with the internet. You are now constantly connected and a click away from any type of distraction available. Searching the internet is your start down the rabbit hole. You don’t even realize that several hours have passed.

Most problems with focusing center around a lack of goals. You may have big dreams, but without the proper goals, you will continue to be a dreamer. If you create obtainable goals that you know will change your life when you reach them, you will have a much better chance of keeping the focus on those goals.

Some people go to opposite extremes and are too focused. While setting goals is good, you need to live your life beyond those goals. You need a bit of play time. If you are too focused on your work or your goals, you will burn out soon. Then, you will likely make excuses why you couldn’t reach those goals.

Your focus is about balance. When you have the right balance between reaching your goals and enjoying your life, you will enjoy both aspects. It’s a good idea to incorporate some play time into your goals. This way, you permit yourself to have some fun along the way.

Sometimes, a lack of focus has to do with not living life on your terms. You need to love what you do, whether it be for your job or at home. Pick the right activities and make adjustments when they aren’t working. One guideline is to consider what you daydream about when you are working. If you have a recurring daydream, this is an indication that is where you should focus your efforts. These days, you don’t even need to quit your job immediately. You can work on building the idea you daydream about on the side, and as it grows, you can get to the point where you can tell your company adios!

2) Goal Setting

Why do people have such a difficult time setting goals? After all, it’s been shown to help people advance their lives. People should jump at the chance to set goals and get ahead. But, it is not that simple. Goals have to do with events well into the future, and most people are not fortunetellers.

One reason people aren’t good at setting goals is it is not something you learn at school. While some colleges may be altering their courses to include this crucial skill, it is not a mainstream offering. It still is not taught as a core function in the lower grades. That may be where learning it is most beneficial. When kids are taught something early on, with reinforcement throughout their learning experience, they will be more likely to continue the skill during adulthood.

How do you proceed with setting goals? Start with what you have already accomplished. Try to retrace the steps of how you got to your current state. Did you have to read much about the skill or accomplishment? How much time do you feel you committed to making that accomplishment happen?

The next step is to think about your dreams. Finish the following sentence, “if money were no object, I would…” What was the first thought that popped into your head when finishing that sentence? Whatever it was, this is a good starting point as to what you want to accomplish in your life.

You can also brainstorm ideas for items you have wanted to accomplish. When you list out several options, you can choose the ideas that make the most sense for the stage of life you are living.

An aspect of goal setting that trips people up is they think that any plan is final and set in stone. That’s not true. Your preferences and life situations are always changing. What you felt strong about ten years ago you probably don’t even give much thought to today. Therefore, list your dreams and ideas without thinking that you are required to make them happen.

Conversely, you do need to commit to something. Otherwise, you will never take your goals seriously. Once you commit, you can break down your goal into sub-goals or tasks. Then, you can assign those tasks milestones. Always include alternatives for when situations do change. Otherwise, the first task that you don’t accomplish will derail the entire process.

3) Decision Making Skills

Are you good at making decisions? The skill is natural for some people while others struggle to make even the most basic decisions. While personality types can play a role in one’s ability to make decisions, it’s also a skill that can be learned.

One reason people don’t like to make decisions is they don’t want to be held responsible for the outcomes. This reluctance is a defense mechanism as others may criticize you if you don’t choose wisely. It could erode the confidence others have in you regarding your ability to make decisions. However, you can take steps to reduce it from happening.

One of the main factors in decision making is confidence. Therefore, building confidence will help you make decisions. Others will also follow your lead as they will respect your confidence. When you make decisions with confidence, they have no choice but to recognize your authority.

Decision making requires finding out the right information. You won’t get far if you start making decisions without information to back them. You need to be informed when making your decisions which means you have a bit of detective work to do. You have to get as many of the facts as you can before making most decisions.

Often, you won’t get all the facts you need for one reason or another. In this case, you will need to take a leap of faith and rely on your confidence when making decisions. That’s an unfortunate part of the process and one that makes people choose wrong directions sometimes. But, as long as you decide using the information you have available, you can defend your choice.

As part of the decision-making process, consider coming up with alternatives. List out all possible alternatives based on the current information. You can rate the alternatives on a scale of your choosing. This rating can help you when making the decision. You can choose a star-rating system or a percentage system (0-100), etc.

Another technique people like to use is to list out the pros and the cons. To do this, take out a blank piece of paper and write a dividing line in the center. Create the heading “Pros” on the left, and “Cons” on the right. Then, list out the pros and the cons. You can use this to guide you with your decision. Try not to make this process too mechanical as the list may contain several subjective items.

4) Creativity Skills

Many people don’t think of creativity as a skill. But, it is, and you can develop it. Some people will separate creativity from thinking, but others believe it is the same concept. After all, you need to use your brain to be creative. Therefore, thinking is involved.

When you sharpen your creative skills, you expand your opportunities in most aspects of your life. At work, you will be called upon to come up with new ideas that your company use to create products or sell services. In your personal life, you may help your kids when they are stuck on coming up with ideas for their projects. You can probably come up with a host of places where creativity comes in handy.

Companies like creativity, but only to a certain point. Managers may pretend as though they want creative people. But, often that requires setting them loose in an environment that allows them to come up with new ideas. That gives the managers less control over their people, and many won’t like that proposition. While some managers allow for this, most will not. They become a constraint on the creative process.

If you run your own business, then you can let your creativity run wild. Of course, even here, you need to strike a balance between coming up with ideas and getting work done. Your ideas are meaningless unless put into action. It’s great to have new ideas, but you have to put them in the pipeline to let them take off.

Part of the creative process is to come up with bad ideas. That sounds counterintuitive, and the thinking behind it is not to deliberately come up with bad ideas. But, you should allow them to occur. It’s better to have hundreds of ideas which could yield a few great ideas than it is to try and think the best ideas out of thin air.

Brainstorming sessions nurture the concept of allowing for bad ideas to occur. The first stage of a brainstorming session has a rule that the participants are not allowed to criticize any presented idea. The moderator must be vigilant with this rule. After the first session is complete, the group then revisits each idea, and the critiquing may begin. Usually, at the end of the session, the group is left with a few ideas that are right for their situation.

There are no hard and fast rules for what makes someone creative. Mostly, you draw your inspiration from others and rework a new angle into the process.

5) Communication Skills

The word communication is a general word in its meaning. It could take on many roles, depending on the use and context. It also has many formats as its delivery mechanism. You can listen to music or watch videos, or you can read a book. Conversations are forms of communications as well.

Because of the general aspects of communication, it’s difficult to imagine formulating it into a skill. But, it is possible, and many colleges offer majors in communication, which elevates the field. It’s not necessary to study at a four-year college to enhance your skills of communication. It takes basic knowledge and some practice.

The biggest skill you can use to communicate better is to listen. People are not natural listeners as they are focused on themselves. It’s how we are wired. We will always put ourselves first. Part of that is a survival mechanism. But, because of our self-serving nature, listening to others is secondary and requires us to put effort into being better listeners.

To increase your ability to listen to others, the next time you are speaking with someone, repeat back everything they say. That may be a little unnerving to them, at first. But, if they look at you with a bewildered look, explain that you are just making sure you understood what they said. Once they get past the awkwardness, they will welcome the exchange.

The next step towards better communication is to use simple language. When you want others to understand your meaning, you need to make sure everyone will understand the words. People have different levels of education. Therefore, you want to use the lowest common denominator when speaking to everyone. You should not view this as a means of looking down at others. Your goal is to make sure you are understood. Speaking and writing in basic language is the best way to accomplish this.

You must consider the feelings of the people with who you’re communicating. Even if you are a manager, barking orders at people is one of the least effective ways. Consider everyone’s opinions and needs. Keep people engaged in the communication platform. This way they take ownership in the process. That is a massive benefit for excellent communication. You will get more out of people when this happens than merely rattling off commands as if they are robots. There are some instances, such as the military, where shouting out orders is necessary. But, these are the exception, not the rule.

6) Positivity

Have you ever been around negative people? The chances are good that you have. What were they like? Did you enjoy hanging out with them? Even if you get a kick out of a few things they say, after a while, you’ll get tired of their negative behavior. If you don’t, then it is likely you have joined them in the negative camp.

Most people want to be positive, so why do they choose to be negative? There is no simple answer. However, it could be they are taking the easy way out. It’s much easier to come up with excuses for failure than it is to take the steps towards success. We know that misery loves company. That’s why we try to bring other people with us to the dark side (negativity).

Success can be feared more than failure. When we succeed, we are pushing ourselves well past our comfort zones. It’s often something that people can’t handle because they prove to themselves they can accomplish their goals. Now, they have to keep it up because there are no longer any excuses.

If you could review the experiences of two classes of people, the first group are positive and the second group is negative, which group do you believe will succeed? It is possible for people with negative attitudes to experience some success. However, the majority of negative people will not have gotten far. The ones who maintained a positive outlook, will on average, succeed faster and for longer.

The world is negative. The news has few positive stories. When you listen to other people talk, it’s often conversations about other people in a negative light. Life can certainly deal wicked circumstances that can turn people sour. Depending on the severity of those circumstances, some people never recover from the negativity.

With all the negativity in the world, how do you maintain a positive attitude? It takes some knowledge and some practice. Positivity is considered a skill. You should try to surround yourself with a positive environment, with positive people. You should avoid people who are overly negative. Their only purpose is to bring other people down. Don’t let that happen.

There are plenty of books, courses, and seminars on how to be more positive. Use them frequently to help you become positive, and keep at it until it becomes second nature. Being positive or negative is a choice, after all. If you have the choice, why wouldn’t you choose positivity?

7) Time Management Skills

Some people don’t view time management as a skill. They feel that there isn’t much skill involved. After all, how hard is it to create a to-do list? However, time management is more than just creating a to-do list. That means, it requires learning and applying to your current business or job.

When you increase your acumen for time management, you will become more valuable to your company. The reason is that you will get more done in less time, i.e., you will become more productive.

When you learn about time management, you will start to monitor the progress of your time as it applies to your longer-term goals. That’s a key difference. Anyone can create a to-do list. However, not everyone will be performing the right tasks on that to-do list. They may look busy. But, what they are accomplishing doesn’t advance them or their company.

How do you enhance your time management skills? A good start is to search on the internet. You’ll find plenty of videos on YouTube. You do have to weed through a lot of nonsense and sales pitches when you use this medium. But, you can get great overviews on the topic.

Before wasting time on these videos, search through the comments from the videos. If you see overly critical comments, and they seem legitimate, then you probably want to move on to other videos.

The next step is to check out books or eBooks that Amazon are offering on the subject. Again, it pays to check out the reviews of the books available. Also, make sure you choose ones that are current. While some time management tips are timeless, many focus on technology which didn’t exist several years ago. The internet didn’t go mainstream until the mid-1990s, as an example.

Another advantage of beefing up your time management skills is you can offer your expertise as a service to others. Consultancy is a lucrative field, and people are willing to pay good money to become more productive. It makes sense because as they increase their productivity, they increase their worth to their organizations.

It does take some study and work to learn about time management. You also need to make sure the information you are learning is valid and worthwhile. But, once you grasp the concepts and increase your skills, you will open a world of opportunities for yourself and others.

8) Lifelong Learning

You spend your childhood hearing it’s important to get a good education. You study hard, and you get into a good college. You do well in college which leads you to find a decent job. You feel like you are living the good life and now you can relax, and you’re ready to climb the corporate ladder.

However, the employment situation is different now. Using the above formula is likely to lead people astray. For starters, college graduates are not making as large a salary as they once did. Second, companies are too eager to lay off people. Therefore, by sticking to the old ways, you run the risk of becoming obsolete. You need to keep on top of current skills, and that requires dedicating yourself to lifelong learning.

Start with committing to learning. For the longest time, we have been conditioned to believe that we don’t need to learn after graduating from college. That is a huge mistake, and you need to refocus your mindset to a mode of perpetual learning.

Another problem is being away from the learning process for too long. If you commit to learning, this won’t happen. But, if you haven’t been keeping up with your learning efforts, know that it won’t take too long to get back into the swing of things once you get started. You may even find it’s fun.

Learn what skills are in demand. A great way to do this is to see which job listings online are the most prevalent. Technology will likely be a large component any skillset of today. Therefore, if you have been avoiding learning technology, that is a good place to begin your lifelong learning initiative.

It used to be that you’d have to go back to school to learn. That costs a lot of money and requires you to go to class physically. The internet has leveled the playing field. You can take college classes online and even earn a new degree if that is the direction you want to go.

However, if you don’t want to commit to a formal degree, you still can learn via online resources. Amazon has millions of books available, and there are plenty of training resources available outside of traditional college curriculums. Of course, when you matriculate at a college, you are committing to completing the program. That can serve as a motivation to continue. It also gives you an official transcript that you completed the program.

9) Problem Solving Skills

You will have to confront many problems throughout your life. It’s part of the social contract. Some of the issues you must deal with won’t be pleasant. Others may be fun or merely part of your job at work.

If you only had to deal with a few problems in your life, and they weren’t too serious, you probably wouldn’t require problem-solving skills. However, it’s almost a sure bet that you will deal with more than a few, and the severity of several of those problems may be high. Therefore, you should hone your problem-solving skills.

When approaching any problem, understand what the problem is. You cannot expect to solve any problem if you don’t take this first step. Sometimes, you’ll need to dig into to the cause of the problem before taking steps towards solving it. That could require research or you questioning people about the situation, etc.

Once you determine the problem, try to find others who have been through a similar issue. When people have experience in certain situations, they can offer advice on how they solved those problems. It may not be quite the same as your situation, but it could be a good starting point.

Make a list of possible solutions, then try to project the outcomes of each. Also, determine what obstacles you may encounter with any alternatives that you list. While you want to find the path of least resistance, you don’t necessarily want to choose the easy way out. That can often lead to further problems later. These are all considerations that you must evaluate when solving problems.

Depending on the complexity of the problem, you want to monitor the progress of your solutions. That feedback can help determine if your plan is executing properly or whether you need to take an alternate path. Sometimes, there is no easy answer when this happens. It requires you to make a decision and deal with consequences.

Confidence is going to serve you well in problem-solving. If you are seen wavering from one solution to the next and don’t believe in your solution, you are going to lose the faith of people who are involved in the decisions. That is a tough scenario to reverse. Once people lose faith in your ability to lead, they will be reluctant to listen to what you have to say going forward. Therefore, be firm and confident that your plan is going to work and be decisive when the plan is not going the way you had hoped.



10) Networking Skills

We live in an interconnected world with the internet. People can send a message and get an instant connection. Because of this, it seems that traditional networking has gone by the wayside. However, nothing could be further from the truth.

Social media is a great avenue for people to exchange ideas and meet new contacts. But, it never will have the same power as a face-to-face meetup with someone. Communication is at its strongest when two people can see each other. People learn more about others in a few seconds of in-person contact than they ever could with a strictly online one.

Another point to remember is that online people may not be who they say they are. Think about how easy it is to create an online persona. People are capable of being anyone they want online. That means the connections you make could be phony, which won’t help you when asking people to help you.  Networking is about engaging with others and a certain give-and-take involved in the exchange.

Online connections do have their place. They can be a great starting point in the networking hierarchy of events. They can be a great way to hook up with people who you would never have using traditional means. However, as specified, you need to take the exchange further and try to arrange an in-person meeting. The contact gives people confirmation that the people you connected with are real. It’s the reason why people often use the phrase, “it’s nice to put a face with the name.”

If you don’t believe that in-person meetups are important, ask yourself how many online-only connections have become your friends. It’s likely to be a small number and even more likely to be none. While you won’t become friends with everyone you meet face-to-face, the number will most likely be larger than online-only connections.

It’s not practical to meet face-to-face with every person you connect with online. Some people live far from you. However, people should not treat the internet as the only way to connect with others. A great way to use the internet for networking is to use websites like Meetup.com. You can find people that have similar interests to your own and attend meetings. You can even create meetups yourself if a group doesn’t currently exist on the website.

There is no magic formula for networking, although some techniques may work better than others. Using face-to-face connections is one technique that should yield better results than a purely cyber strategy.