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Your Skills

Lesson 3 on "Connecting the many pieces of the puzzle of you" is all about your skills. First of all, let's begin by establishing the fact that skills are different from talents. You see, you can learn skills and acquire knowledge. When you learn a new skill, you actually learn steps in an activity. You can repeat the steps in the activity until you do it quite well.

Think of word processing as an example. You may not have other mechanical skills, but you can learn to be quite proficient in your keyboarding skills. You learn by practicing the steps for keyboarding over and over. With enough repetition, you can retrain your brain and learn another skill.

Now, talents, as discussed in Lesson 2, are inborn. They are either there or they're not. You can't teach talent. Your major challenge as it relates to talents is to figure out what these are, how to increase their effectiveness, and how to use them productively.

While talents and skills are different from each other, they are interconnected with your achievements. Achievements are something you know you did well, you enjoyed doing, and are still feeling a sense of pride when you think about it. You used multiple skills to accomplish your achievements.

Pause and think about four or five achievements and the skills that you used to accomplish what you achieved. Then determine what talents you are continually using to be successful because those will be in your achievements. There is a pattern. You control your impact narrative when you are aware of and have clarity around what you have to offer in any given situation.

You have numerous skills that contribute to your personal skill repertoire. Skills form the foundation for what you have to offer. Skills are the universally accepted language used to describe your contribution to an organization. Skills are used when forming teams, during performance reviews, in project management assignments, and obviously, they are used in resumes.

Skills are your work currency. They're easy to discuss because there are multiple and diverse ways to talk about them. You can organize, analyze, and categorize your skills. The important point is that if you don't talk about your skills yourself and learn how to do it in a way that is effective, somebody else will inevitably do it for you. And, their version may not be what you want to portray.

Skills are organized in this presentation into four skill categories.

  • Job Content or Technical skills

  • Behavioral, Self-Management, or Soft skills

  • Transferable or Generic skills

  • Resiliency or Life-Buoyancy skills

The first category zeros in on your technical skills or job content skills.

These are the ones needed to do the duties of your job. Your work content skills are usually what most people think of when asked about their skills. Technical skills are baseline, they're assumed that you have them, and are considered necessary to do the job you've been hired to do. Job content skills may include certain subject-matter. You may be required to master specialized language, processes, procedures, and systems needed to be effective in your position.

Let's take an example from the IT industry and focus on one position that the industry has to get a better feel for how these technical skills work. Let's look specifically at skills used by programmers.

Programmers need to know how to code in different software languages. And, programmers make use of additional skills during the time they are actually coding. For example, any of the people who perform these duties have skills that may be numerical, creative, analytical, manual, and probably are detail-oriented. They are able to focus and concentrate for very long periods of time. They need to think logically and methodically and organize their project. You get the idea. It's the same with any job-related skills. Additional skills are used along with your specific technical expertise.

Individuals acquire the skills they need for the technical side of their positions through different means. They may have had formal or informal education, on-the-job training, they may have been self-taught, or may have observed or shadowed others to learn.

Next, we will move on to the next category to assess your behavioral skills are your self-management skills. These are the soft skills most valued by a company and are determined by the culture of the organization and the values of the leaders. It's critical to be clear about which soft skills are valued by your organization. Likewise, you need to know what is not valued. But most importantly of all, whether or not your own values resonate with your organization's culture and what they value is what you have to offer.

Behavioral, self-management, or soft skills are about being emotionally smart. These skills make up your personality and your basic character and they focus on self-awareness, feelings, and emotions.

Behavioral skills, self-management, or soft skills are considered to be important personality traits required for success, for being successful in today's environment. They are looked at apart from other skills because they focus on self-awareness, feelings, and emotions. It is a different, but very important way to assess your skill base.

To be successful in today's marketplace, individuals need to be smart about what they feel in order to handle their emotions most appropriately. It's that difference between your IQ and your EQ.

Your intelligence quotient, your IQ, is many times what gets you your position in a company in the first place. It is, however, your emotional quotient that helps you to grow, develop, and be effective in your impact on the organization.

A successful individual has a greater sense of self-awareness. He or she has learned to be emotionally present on the job. According to Daniel Goleman in his book "Emotional Intelligence", EQ is the ability to understand one's own feelings, have empathy for the feelings of others, and regulate emotions in a way that enhances living.

Similar to the primary colors that are the basis for all of the other shades and hues, there are primary emotions that are foundations for all other emotions that humans experience. In one form or another, we feel anger – fear – shame – guilt – sadness – surprise – love – disgust – enjoyment.

Feelings just are. It's what we do with these feelings that makes us emotionally smart. Emotionally smart people have a high degree of EQ.

Next, the third skill level has to do with your Transferable Skills. These skills are generic and can be used cross-departmentally or in occupations that require similar tasks or activities regardless of the actual job title. These skills can be transported from one job to another with very little extra effort on your part. If you are able to input data in one situation, you can certainly do so in another.

Transferable skills can be used and reused effectively in different situations.

These generic skills make you even more valuable to your organization. You can be cross-trained to do other work because you have those transferable skills.

Consider those skills mastered for your current or past positions that can be used for similar types of tasks or activities in other parts of an organization.

Another way to transfer skills is to reassess a hobby you enjoy and explore the possibilities of monetizing it. Photography hobby has in some organizations become a paid position. And then there is the whole world of the internet that opens up multiple opportunities for reevaluating what you have to offer and how and where your transferable skills can be applied.

Notice this: you duplicate your skills, and some of your skills fall into more than one category. None of that really matters. These repetitions help you see your recurring success patterns and themes. These recurring success patterns and themes are what is important for you to know.

Now, the fourth and final skill category that we are talking about in this presentation has to do with your resiliency skills. We will spend the whole of Lesson 4 on the topic of resiliency because resilience skills form the baseline for all your other skills.

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Written by

Sylvia Gaffney, PhD