Improve the Right Kind of Skills (They Probably Aren’t What You Think)

Lesson: Improving “soft skills” can increase your value no matter what kind of career you have.

Hard skills are things you learned through technical or academic training: how to make architectural drawings with certain software, how to properly administer medication as a nurse, and so on.

Soft skills are just as important—if not more—but aren’t usually taught in school. To be more effective (and to become more valuable), spend time improving your soft skills in writing, negotiation, conflict management, and follow-up.

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Q&AA on Finding a Valuable Skill

Over the next few weeks, I'll be touring India and then traveling elsewhere in the world. While I'm away, we'll be publishing a new series of Questions and Attempted Answers (Q&AA) from readers. I'll share my answer, and you're invited to share an answer of your own as well.

Today's question comes from Jan, who writes in from Belgium.

“I understand the importance of focusing on a valuable skill, but I'm not sure that I have any such thing. There are a lot of things I like to do, but nothing I feel especially passionate about or think that I do better than anyone else. I went to university and earned a degree, but I didn't have any business training. What do I do?”

Great question. Here's my attempted answer →

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Useful Travel Skills

If you'd like to be a traveler, you could learn about history and geography, focusing on what is similar and what is different on this strange, beautiful planet. You could learn languages, in an attempt to ingratiate yourself and show respect for the culture you've dropped in on as an outsider. You could learn about photography or videography, and find a way to document your memories for others to enjoy from afar. All these things are fine and useful pursuits. But as you move from aspiring vagabond to global explorer, here are a few suggestions that might help even more.

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