Thursday, May 31, 2012

7 Fundamental Skills for Success

There are 7 fundamental abilities that are necessary for success in every aspect of life, including social, family, professional, and spiritual aspects. These are the skills we should be teaching our children, our students, and our employees because they empower an individual to live proactively. In fact, we could all benefit from learning these abilities ourselves. Because of the power of these abilities, the individual, organization, or society that does not learn and use these abilities will be surpassed by those who do.

Fundamental Abilities
  1. Learn - People must have the ability to gather, understand, and synthesize relevant information. With the ability to learn, a person can obtain knowledge that will enable them to more effectively perform all other abilities listed below. 
  2. Set and work toward goals - The capacity to set and work toward a goal is absolutely fundamental to success. Without this ability, and individual loses all capacity for success.
  3. Make decisions based on data - Humans have a tendency to jump to conclusions (something I discuss in more detail here), but successful decisions are based on the data available to us. Action is most effective when based on reality, and data can help us gain a picture of what that reality is. (See also my post on 6 principles for making data-based decisions here).
  4. Design - The ability to conceptualize and articulate a desired state, process, or thing. This ability enables a person to change the environment and influence the people around him/her.
  5. Problem-solving - the ability to analyze a problem, articulate the causes, conceptualize a solution, and implement the solution. We live in a world that is complex - problems and issues will continually emerge - and we must have the capacity to solve those problems.
  6. Technology adaptation - the ability to adopt and leverage a technology to make work or life more effective and efficient. We live in a world that increasingly demands our time, and if used appropriately, technology can reduce that time burden.
  7. Communicate - Because we live in a social world, the ability to communicate knowledge effectively is absolutely crucial. This includes the capacity to share knowledge effectively, and the capacity to understand what is being communicated.
I believe that these abilities are foundational to success in any field. These abilities give the individual the tools needed to proactively succeed in our currently competitive environment. What is more, these abilities are crucial to living an exciting life of fulfillment.

There is no doubt that these abilities must be learned in some kind of a context, and these abilities can be learned on the job, at home, in school, and on the street. These skills can be learned within an academic program at a university, regardless of the content that is being taught. The fundamental skills are all the same, but the context in which they are applied might change.

Regardless of where or when they are learned, shouldn't we focus more of our energy on teaching and acquiring these abilities?


Anonymous said...

I think another fundamental skill is the ability to listen.

We need to be able to listen to understand rather than listen to respond.

joel gardner said...

I absolutely agree - the ability to listen and understand is fundamentally crucial to success. I sort of placed this under #7, Communicate. I believe that communicating includes the sharing of information in both directions. The person that can articulate ideas clearly is valuable, but being able to understand others' ideas is just as vital.

This is similar to Covey's habit of effectiveness - "Seek first to understand, then to be understood."

Thanks for sharing your ideas!