8 Underrated Skills & Traits

Yesterday, I shared some thoughts on the importance of effort and skills in achieving success. So, I thought I would elaborate on that post with some less obvious skills and traits one might acquire to better situate themself on the path to success.

8 Underrated Skills & Traits

1. Reading comprehension

Develop an expansive vocabulary, and look up words you’re unfamiliar with. Read widely from all genres, eras, cultures, and viewpoints. Learn how to read and understand research papers so you can personally verify the validity of claims. Ask questions, such as, “who sponsored or stands to benefit from this paper?” Sample both sides of an issue and look for the commonalities; those commonalities are typically the unbiased truth. Read foreign newspapers on local issues for an unbiased perspective. Practice identifying and summarizing the main idea of a text. Learn to make inferences and draw conclusions.

2. Listening comprehension

Learn to overcome distractions when with others. Ask questions. Understand psychology and marketing tactics, so you can’t be manipulated by them. There are bound to be misunderstandings; don’t be rude, try to work through it. When you don’t understand, admit it and ask for clarification. Listen with the intention of repeating back speaker’s key points or argument more clearly and concisely than they have.

3. Independent critical thinking

Practice developing opinions independent of you family and friends, and be able to thoroughly explain and justify your position. Practice constructive skepticism; exercise cautious doubt over all accepted interpretations of recorded facts or taken-for-granted assumptions. Be willing to look at all sides of an issue and consider them equally before reaching a conclusion. Imagine the perspective of others. Be open to to multiple perspectives and a develop a high tolerance for ambiguity. Grow beyond circular reasoning.

4. Ability to separate emotion from logic

Emotion and logic are two different languages, largely indecipherable when intermingled. All reasoning is rationalization in favor of some set of values; practice looking at yourself objectively to determine where your emotions may affect your logical thinking. A argument between logic and emotion will find no resolution. However strongly you feel and however much proof you can provide, changing the opinion of your opponent will not change the course of history. There is nothing to be gained from showing another person they are wrong. Delay decisions and review them before you announce them or act on them.

5. Ability to separate beliefs from personality

Personality is easy to read, and we’re all experts at it. Beliefs lie below the surface, and we cannot know another person’s assumptions and convictions without them explicitly sharing. We unconsciously tend to connect personality to beliefs for two main reasons to justify continuing to like or dislike a person or group of people. Rather than jump to conclusions, we must practice listening and sincerely trying to understand the beliefs, values, and vision of both those we agree with, and those we don’t.

6. Not being easily offended

People are going to make disparaging remarks about your skin color, intelligence, relationship status, socioeconomic status, political affiliation, and opinion on the hottest new topic. Ignore the criticisms and let them go. Taking offense and allowing yourself to become angered can lead to further unkind words, violence, and resentment. You’re entitled to be offended, but you’ll be doing more harm to yourself than the offender. Understand that the cruelness of bullies often comes from a place of low self-esteem. Pity the person who hates themself so much that they put others down to feel better about themself.

7. Calmness during chaos

The world is seething with chaos, so consider where you may personally encounter chaos. Take a local FEMA class to learn basic first aid, search and rescue, and fire control so you can respond quickly and calmly in an emergency. If you live in natural disaster zone, stock up on and practice using any necessary tools or supplies. If you keep a gun, practice tactical combat regularly so you’re not only comfortable shooting, but doing so while running, crawling, or backing away. Practice meditation to find calm in your busy day. Anticipate the chaos, understand the solution, and practice that solution regularly.

8. Being proactive

Anticipate and prepare for future needs and wants today. Start putting aside money for retirement in your twenties, start focusing on your fitness a year before that big backpacking trip, and volunteer for work tasks that may be rewarded. Focus your efforts on things that are in their control. Think about your strengths, recognize opportunities, and keep a positive attitude. Prepare for future unknowns, both positive and negative, by putting aside from extra money, sandbags, candles, or toilet paper.

Are there any skills or traits you would add to the above list? Are there any items you disagree with or would expand upon?

6 thoughts on “8 Underrated Skills & Traits

  1. These are all terrific. Great list! I especially love 4, 5, 6. Your thought in #6: “Understand that the cruelness of bullies often comes from a place of low self-esteem” is spot-on, I think…and when you add a dose of ignorance (intentional – head in the sand – or just uninformed) you can feel more pity/sympathy and less rage.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Victoria! I love your addition of ignorance to #6… it’s true, so many people are uninformed, willfully or not, and I agree that realizing that can foster empathy and lessen the sting.


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