In my previous post, I discussed the fact that knowing the skills you need for your ideal work is vital – and so is unearthing which skills you haven’t yet got, but will need to develop. Using the following simple skills inventory exercise, you can take things to the next level.
Why is that important? Well, because I’m pretty sure you missed a few skills from your list. We all do – because we all have many more skills than we realise. Today’s post is all about helping you root those skills out from their hiding places. Prepare to be surprised!
Remember, the important thing for the purpose of finding a vital vocation is to find out which skills you most enjoy using, and that’s what the following process is designed to help with.
Download Your Skills Inventory Sheet
Basic Skills Sort
For the first part of the exercise, we’ll just be using the first column (marked ‘A’). We’ll use the remaining columns in the next part of the exercise, so don’t write anything in them yet.
Go down the list of skills on the Skills Inventory, putting a mark in the boxes in column A, if you believe you currently possess this skill. Remember – skills can relate to thing you can do well (or competently), or things you know about.
Don’t only think about skills you’ve used at work. All the skills you use in your hobbies, or to manage your home, or in dealing with friends and loved ones, count. This is simply about doing an initial trawl to discover the things you can do, or that you know about. You don’t have to focus only on things you’re very good at. You can also consider skills in which you are simply “competent”. Don’t include anything you’re not good at, however – even if it’s a skill you think you “should” have.
If there are any skills which you do possess but which are missing from the list, add them to the bottom in the spaces provided. Once you’ve done this, compare it with the list you made after the last post. How do they compare? Were any skills missing from your original list?
Going Deeper: Your Work/Life Stories
Next, we’re going to go a bit deeper. Here’s where we start unearthing the skills you possess which give you the most satisfaction. Remember – your vital vocation is founded partly on the skills you enjoy using; not on just any old skills you happen to have. Because of that, it’s important to prioritise.
This time you’re going to use the other columns on the Skills Inventory sheet. In following the instructions, don’t forget to include any of the skills you added to the sheet in the previous exercise.
STEP ONE: Write your stories….
To do this exercise, you will need to write at least five (you could write a couple more if you have the inclination, but no more than seven) very short “stories” about things you did just because they were fun, or because they gave you a sense of adventure or enjoyment or accomplishment. A few paragraphs will do for each.
For each story, you can pick something you did at work, or not. In considering what to write about for your five stories, try to have at least a couple from work and a couple from outside of work. You can write about anything from any period of your life, but try to pick several different periods if possible. It doesn’t matter if anyone else knew of your sense of accomplishment or enjoyment or not. Each story should be just two or three paragraphs in length, but they must contain the following components:
- The goal – what you wanted to accomplish
- The obstacle/hurdle/limit - what you had to overcome before you could reach your goal
- What you did step-by-step – the stages you went through to get the thing done
- A description of the result – what you accomplished
- Any quantifiable measures of success – what you earned, saved, created etc.
Here’s an example:
- GOAL: I wanted to win the school talent competition with my friends, especially the prize of some money. I got a couple of friends interested, and we formed a musical group.
- OBSTACLE: The obstacle we faced was that we didn’t have any proper instruments to play or practise with, and couldn’t afford decent costumes.
- WHAT I DID: I approached the head of the music department, and asked if we could borrow some instruments (a guitar, some drums, and a keyboard). He was a bit reluctant to loan these out so I assured him they’d be well looked after and brought a permission slip from my parents to show that they were aware of what I was asking to borrow. I also suggested to one of my friends to ask his mother if she would make us some outfits to wear, if we pooled our pocket-money and paid for materials.
- RESULT: We were able to get the instruments and to start practising and by the date of the competition we were pretty good. We also had some nice colourful shirts that my friend’s mother had made for us. We called ourselves the C0lourTones and performed in the competition. We came third, which we were really pleased about because the people who won were really good.
- MEASURES OF SUCCESS: We didn’t win the prize money, but we each got a little trophy.
STEP TWO: Extract your skills…
Using the Skills Inventory, consider the question “Did I use this skill in this story?” and for every time you answer “yes”, fill in the appropriate box in the inventory. Take a new column for each story.
STEP THREE: Find your favourites…
Consider which skills stand out for you again and again. If you’ve only done 5 stories and are struggling to find a pattern, do a couple more. Count up the number of times you’ve used each skill, and find the top ten skills. Look for what you guess are the top ten.
STEP FOUR: Make a list…and prioritize!
Now rank them using this Online Prioritizer (write a different skill in a new space until you’ve added all ten, then click “Next step” and you’ll be asked to choose each skill against each of the others). For each question, consider which skill you most enjoy using.
After you’ve ranked your skills, make a note of the top five. Keep this list somewhere safe – it’s an important piece of information. These are the skills you enjoy using, again and again. They give you some important clues as to the skills you’ll want to use in your vital vocation!
BONUS – Self-Coaching Questions:
Finally, here are some questions for you to think about in relation to your skills. Ponder these, make a note of your answers and keep this note somewhere safe along with your list of prioritized skills - and know that you’re another step closer to finding your vital vocation…
- 1. What kind of things are people always asking you to do for them?
- 2. Which of your skils do others consistently recognise as being valuable?
- 3. What can you do, or do in a unique way, that almost no one else you know can?
- 4. Which of the skills you possess have been most useful to you in life so far – and why?
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