Three foundational skills everyone needs to get ahead in life

Over the past few years, the following foundational skills have helped me shape my career. I am not going to perfect them anytime soon but I think I don’t have to. I believe these skills takes life-long practice and I really don’t want to get done with them. I think it would be silly of me to think that someday I will master them all. I probably won’t. But by simply being aware and practicing them, I feel like I can adopt growth mindset and get better in my life and career.

Focus

Regardless of what I do, being indistracable and being able to focus on the task at hand for longer periods of time is a great skill. It is hard; if it isn’t everyone would do it. Being able to focus gives me a great competitive advantage, so I think it is very well worth learning how to be focussed. I learned that even a few focus blocks each week makes me  highly productive and effective. Having said this, it is really hard. I fail more often than I would like to believe. But that’s the challenge I signed up for.

Feedback

Willingness to ask and accept feedback without getting defensive is another essential skill to develop. It sounds simple. But being told on the face that you have a lot of room for improvement —which is generally true in most cases— is inconvenient and deeply cuts through my most precious possession called ego. But however harsh it may sound,  feedback on how I can improve is exactly what I need to get ahead. So I consider feedback as a gift. To get ahead in life, I need tough love, not being told how awesome I am. That’s why I am always open for feedback.

Flip-flop and iterate

It takes a lot of courage to be comfortable with changing my mind and ideas often. Everything around me is changing constantly. So should my ideas and opinions, I think. I am not obliged to stick with anything just because I felt certain way at certain point in time. Rather than being dogged about my ideas, I found that being open, adapting to feedback and iterating has helped me do cool things.

Can you think of any other skills that are useful regardless of what we do?

Next time I will share what I believe are foundational habits and how I learned about them.

Also, this is my first attempt with a cheesy clickbait title 😉

Published by Chaitanya

I am a family man, perpetual learner, coffee drinker, dessert eater and Happiness Engineer at Automattic. I also read, write, move, and meditate.

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3 Comments

  1. Love the clickbait title 🙂

    To quote a line from the Rocky Balboa movie:

    >But it ain’t about how hard you hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward; how much you can take and keep moving forward.

    Lots of unexpected things will happen in life and during our professional careers. How fast we can bounce back from a setback, determines how fast we can go ahead in life.

    This leads me to one of my favorite life quotes ever, also from a movie ( yep, I love movie quotes 😀 , this one comes from Jack Sparrow ).

    >The problem is not the problem. The problem is your attitude about the problem.

    1. Glad you didn’t look down on my clickbait 😀

      And thanks for sharing those great movie quotes.

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