Identifying your skills is an important part of being able to find or create your ideal work. But it’s important to put this activity in its rightful place in the job-creation process. I’ve written before about my firm belief that you should look to your talents first as a guide to what you should be doing with your life, and then work on identifying your skills in order to make the most of the situation you’re in.
If we look to our skills too soon, we may find ourselves being guided into making a living doing something we’re good at, but not something we love. You could probably clean your windows better than anyone else you know, but that doesn’t mean you should. Unless, of course, you love cleaning windows, or are happy to use this particular skill as a means of earning a living in order to support you to do the things you do love. Your vital vocation always supports you in doing what you love – that’s what makes it so vital to a happy life.
Once you’ve used your talents to identify what your ideal work is (or at least to give you a rough idea) then you’ll almost certainly find that you’re going to need to bring some ancillary skills into play in order to get that job done really well. I find it helpful to think of skills as belonging in one of four quadrants:
Functional skills are the things you can do practically: like knitting; public speaking; driving; cooking; or performing brain surgery. Cognitive skills are the things you know about or can think about: like the history of Mesopotamia; simultaneous equations; Taoism; or the novels of Virginia Woolf.
Of course, some of your skills will actually be a combination of both functional and cognitive skills. You’ll need to know how to wire a plug in order to be able to do it properly. You’ll either already have skills in these areas, or you’ll need to acquire them. That means that two things become very important:
1. Knowing which skills you already possess
2. Knowing which skills are going to be required of you in your chosen work
In my next blog posts, I’m going to give you a couple of nifty techniques for identifying your skills. To start with, however, here’s a really simple exercise: just sit down with pen and paper and write a list of all the skills you know (0r think) you already have. And, if you already have an idea of what you should be doing with your life, make a second list of all the skills you know you’re going to need,but have yet to acquire. Those are the skills you have to work on.
Identifying your skills is an important step in solving the puzzle of your vital vocation, and it really can be that simple – at least for starters…
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