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What’s the best skill that would have the greatest impact on your life?
I asked hundreds of people what would be the best skill that would have the greatest impact on their life. For many people it was specialized skills that had to do with their career and professional advancement, or an educational subject matter, for others it had to do with a hobby. Many people also mentioned social skills like communication skills, public speaking, and the skill of listening.
When it came to what is the best skill that would have the greatest impact on our lives, there were two main skills that came to my attention.
Learning and self-mastery.
I can’t say which is most important or would have the most impact because they both work together.
We’re going to talk about learning first and dive deeper into the skill of it because it’s a skill that is not talked about much as a skill, but it’s extremely important.
Learning is a highly underrated, overlooked skill that few people think about, consider, and work on. Let alone master.
Because of this, mastering this skill can give a major advantage.
The thing with learning is that it’s looked at as a cliché, both life-long learning and traditional school and education. It’s also not really looked at as a skill.
Learning is more than a cliché and we should stop looking at it as that and look beyond and deeper than that.
People today are more concerned with “the grind” “the hustle” “work hard, play hard”. Busyness and working hard is often something to brag about.
It’s all over social media. #bossbabe #workhardplayhard #hustlemode #grindtime #teamnosleep
These Instagram accounts and YouTube videos are flashing designer shoes, watches, jewelry, cars, exotic destinations, etc. with these hashtags and quotes about working hard, hustling, grinding, work lifestyle, work, work, work.
This is not just a millennial thing. It’s people of all ages and generations.
The concept of hard work is highly valued and glamorized.
This is silly especially when our goal should be to work smarter, not harder and live a better healthier life.
This is even worse when we’re obsessed with working hard and struggling even though there is no progress, no results and we’re essentially going nowhere.
“But, but, but we’re working really hard! That’s what matters right?” Absolutely not. All it is is just people in a hamster wheel.
It’s not about hard work. It’s about advancement, growth, progress and results. That’s what really matters. Of course, hard work is often necessary, but people take it to the extreme when long working hours, overworking, stress, overwhelm, and busyness become the norm and are often congratulated. It becomes worse when we put our mental and physical health and relationships at stake too.
When it comes to learning though, many of us are bogged down by schooling and we consider that to be the end all be all of education. We’re only taught one way and everyone gets the same kind of education. But it’s also based on where you go to school too. Some schools are similar to prisons which can have a detrimental effect on students learning experiences and future beliefs about learning and education.
In school, we’re told what to do, what to learn, what to read, what to write, things we don’t want to learn, read, or write and then given tons of busy work and sleep-depriving homework which ruins how we feel about learning and leaves us with a bad taste in our mouths. And then harshly criticized and graded so we fail to develop our own style of writing and think for ourselves.
It’s no wonder we have a negative or indifferent view of learning and we don’t work on it because we were told from a very young age limited ways in how we should learn. We let our negative experiences from school get in the way of learning or we let school be the end-all-be-all for our learning.
As Mark Twain puts it, “Don’t let schooling interfere with your education.”
Besides this, when we are not working many of us spend our time with entertainment and social media. We overlook the ease of addiction of these technologies and deny our own addictions as well.
The reality is that these businesses have access to information on the psychology and human behavior of capturing and keeping our attention and keeping them addicted. We put way too much attention to technology, distracted and addicted to it.
When you truly know how to learn, you begin to think for yourself. You see more clearly and more deeply understand yourself, others around you, and the world for how it truly is. That is the difference between those that don’t have the skill of learning and those that have mastered the skill of learning. When you master the skill of learning, you master the skill of thinking.
Those who don’t focus on learning to learn:
- Are limited in their ability to understand and absorb information,
- Only learn specialized knowledge
- Won’t update or advance their outdated skills and knowledge
- Let their biases in the way,
- Hate learning or have a hard time reading, studying and writing
- Waste their time learning junk, won’t unlearn,
- Won’t think for themselves or think critically,
- Are limited in their communication,
- Learn only what everyone else is learning, and
- Probably don’t value learning so they won’t spend much time doing it
People who are masters at learning are innovative and creative. They are the ones that advance our society because they are the ones coming up with new fields, ideas, technology, and solutions. They are the leaders and experts in many top fields. Skilled learners make better decisions, make better use of their time, and solve problems better.
This skill is absolutely essential especially in these times of growing information overload, tons and tons of information available at our fingertips with the internet, blogs, ebooks, podcasts, audiobooks, millions of books available to read at a book store or a library.
Mastering learning is essential to not only specializing in one field or skill, but advancing with multiple things. It’s hard to be great or even the best at something if you’re specialized. People who are experts, great at or the best in their skill or field have learned multiple different fields and skills that they can use to apply and look at things differently than anybody else. This is called learning transfer which is something Elon Musk is known for doing a lot.
Learning should not necessarily be a case of getting more and more, but what and how? It’s essential to curate the information you consume and be selective with it and where you get it from to capitalize on everything you’re putting in your brain. Because so much goes in already in our daily lives.
The skill of learning involves understanding the scientific method, the value of diverse knowledge, mental models, and cognitive biases.
When you build the skill of learning, you can learn how to learn and do things better, faster and more efficiently and effectively.
The second important skill, though not as underrated is self-mastery.
Becoming an expert on yourself – knowing and discovering yourself and developing complete control over yourself.
It’s a major part of personal development. And it’s pretty evident why it can be considered the most important skill you can master.
If you can learn the skill of self-mastery, there is really nothing you can’t do. Nobody can tell you anything, they can’t tell you what to do, what you can do and what you can’t do. Only you can.
Self-mastery is an ongoing process. It’s not something you complete.
It’s a complete understanding of yourself. It gives you the ability to realize your full potential.
Self-mastery involves mastering awareness, discipline and responsibility.
When we discover ourselves though self-mastery, we…
- Are emotionally intelligent
- Know our likes and dislikes
- Know what brings us joy
- Do what we want to do not what others want us to do
- Know our strengths and weakness
- Are able to commit and follow through
- Don’t need motivation
- Get sh*t done
We should all want and cultivate this growth. It’s our innate nature to be motivated toward growth.
When you learn the skill of self-mastery, it becomes easier to discover what you want in life, set goals, achieve goals, create habits, improve your relationships, and become happier.
These two skills are extremely important skills to master. Few people take the time to work on these skills and often don’t even consider them as skills despite their extreme importance to our growth, success, and happiness.
Working on these two skills together can make someone truly become great and unstoppable.