“Everyone has a talent. What is rare is to follow the talent to the dark places where it leads.”
What skills do you have?
The dictionary says that a skill is the ability to do something well, coming from your knowledge, practice, experience or aptitude. People tend to be happier and more confident when doing something they are already good at – using their skills. We all have skills gaps – these are simply areas where you have assessed yourself as not having the right level of skill in something (or no skill at all.) If you’ve never had to use a particular skill then you will have had no reason to develop it, so you’ll simply have a gap. You can decide to develop your skills and fill those gaps.
You can think of skills under these four different headings:
It’s helpful (and usually confidence boosting) to assess what your skills are in each of these areas – make an inventory of your skills. I’ve given you some starter examples below – add your own ideas too for skills that have meaning for you. Then for each give yourself a star rating – pick whatever scale works for you, maybe ***** is excellent, ** needs attention and no stars means you’ve never had to use or develop this skill.
When awarding your stars, think widely about where you have used that skill – are you better at it in your home life? Do you maybe use it more at work?
If you’re feeling brave, share your list with a supervisor at work or a good friend. It’s a great way to see if your assessment is reasonable or if you’ve overlooked any of your skills.
Skills around getting ready
Getting ready, anticipating and preparing helps you to start anything feeling more confident. Thinking in advance helps with structure, broadens your perspective and increases your chance of success. James Baker was George HW Bush’s Chief of Staff and his grandfather, a lawyer, coined the phrase about the 5Ps – Proper Preparation Prevents Poor Performance.
Skills around taking action
Taking action is important for helping you move towards your goals. Your planning can be wasted if you don’t actually follow it up with action. Getting started, even just taking the first small steps, is a positive move in your now.
Skills around keeping at it
Starting is often easier than keeping at it. Being able to persevere and persist is important for reaching an end goal. American author Robert Collier said that success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out.
Skills around measuring and learning
When you’ve done or achieved something it’s important to notice what went well and what you can improve on next time. Taking the time for your own assessment makes your learning concrete and will improves your performance over time.
How Much Have You Got Going for You?
I’m sure you’ve found you’ve got a lot more going for you than you originally thought.
If not, then just pause – have you under-starred yourself? Are you harder on yourself than you would be on others? Is that skill really important to you right now? Would your best friend give you more stars? Would your manager give you more stars, or see important skills that you’ve overlooked? Should you come back to this when you have more energy or after you’ve played your favourite tune, or just on a better day?
Now you’ve given yourself lots of stars, make a list of your top 5-star talents and pin them to your notice board – put them somewhere you can see them every day – at home and at work. When you find yourself saying “I can’t …” or “I’m useless at …” look at your list and remind yourself of your 5-star skills instead. How can you use your 5-star skills to change to “I can …” or “I’m getting better at …”?