I’ve always been vocal about the importance of skills to 21st-century youth.
For many young people today, especially those coming from not-so-rosy backgrounds, having the right mix of skills is a surefire way to escape the poverty trap. Skills are your way of parleying with the gatekeepers of this world. They are your bargaining chip, the cost of entry into the kind of life you want.
The world will get to know your personality and charm later, but first, they must engage you on the platform of the value you can provide through your skills.
That said, here are 5 skills you need as a 21st-century youngster. These skills are perhaps the most valuable skills you can acquire. They are hard to master but when you satisfy the cost of entry, they will pay off for the rest of your life.
If knowledge is power, then learning is your superpower. This skill is the mother of all skills you will ever find today. Yet it’s the most underrated.
Learning is a gateway skill that enables you to acquire every other skill. When you understand the process, time and focus it takes to learn and master anything, you become a demigod. You can upskill and upgrade yourself into various versions to remain relevant for as long as you want.
Psychologists agree that the biggest sinkhole of relationships is communication—not enough of it or a total lack of it. And sometimes too much of it.
When you can verbalise your thoughts and feelings exactly as they come to you, you have one of the most precious skills in the world. People who can communicate their ideas in spoken and written words are considered powerful and influential. They have mastered the use of their words and actions to tell others what they want them to know.
This skill will not only be useful for your romantic relationship but also for your work and professional life.
3. Negotiation and Selling
At every point in your life, you are either selling or being sold to. There are no in-betweens. The TV advertisement is drawing you to buy something. The music you listen to is selling you an idea. The book you’re reading is selling you a mentality. Even this article is selling you an idea.
Realise it or not, we’re all salespeople wearing different hats. As a motivational speaker, I sell people the idea that the dream life they want is possible if they follow the right systems. When I was getting married to Nonso, I sold her the idea that I’m the right guy to spend the rest of her life with. I sold her my manifesto and she bought it. And here we are, 13 years on. I’m still selling her that vision every day.
Religious leaders sell their congregations on ideas every day of the week. Politicians sell the citizenry on the vision they have for the country, state or local council.
If you want a job or contract, you need to sell your abilities in a way that makes you the right guy in the eyes of your potential client or employer. Selling is your way of asking others to join hands with you on a journey that’ll benefit you both. Selling can be learned. And you can start your journey by reading up Og Mandino’s The Greatest Salesman In the World.
I thought of adding this as a subset of skill #2. But it deserves a standalone. You see, people miss out on opportunities and big moments because they aren’t listening. Not just with their ears but with the totality of their being.
Listening helps you pick what people are saying and what they’re not saying. The goal of listening is not to respond but to understand the other party to an extent they didn’t even think possible. Your understanding will likely trigger the right response that’ll leave the other party feeling understood, loved, valued and appreciated.
I call this the engine of all skills. Without discipline, nothing can be moved or sustained. Brian Tracy defined discipline as the ability to do what you want to do when you want to do it, whether you feel like it or not.
It’s the small steps you take daily towards achieving your goal. Discipline is so crucial because your success journey is littered with distractions. Nothing will keep you from your goals like following every new trend, gossip or procrastinating on what you should be doing.
I believe the complaints people make about not getting ahead in life can be traced to a lack of discipline. Discipline will enable you to say no to distractions, manage your time like your life depends on it and pursue one course of action until you succeed.
You need discipline because good, sustainable success is not cheap. The process can be arduous and boring most times. Reshaping your mindset for increased income, influence and impact can be slow and strenuous. Don’t get it twisted. You’ll experience some immediate results. However, if you don’t put in the work, discipline and commitment, your results will not last.
I’m writing more about this skill because it’s the skill most people lack today.
As a little assignment, write down 3 things you need to do this week to move you ahead. Write what actions you will take in the coming days and stick with them. If you want to take things farther, ask a trusted friend to hold you accountable. You’re more likely to follow through with your commitments when you have someone to answer to.
If you were expecting me to mention skills such as Data Analytics, Copywriting, Web Design and the likes, sorry to disappoint you. These skills are also valid. Maybe I’ll talk about them in a follow-up post. But for now, these 5 skills are what anyone needs to move ahead in this day and age. I talked about the power of skills in my book, You Too Can Be Rich. Get your copy here.
As is my custom, I’ll ask, which of these 5 skills are you going to start mastering today? Let me know in the comments.