Sunday Sidenote: Improving Your "Zero Talent" Skills
We live in a world in which talent is so highly prized and individuals rise to the top because of their outstanding talents in any given field. But talent is hard to come by; some of us are gifted in very select areas but do not cover all the skills required to be extremely successful across many terrains. We get caught up trying to be good at everything, and often this leads to a lack of awareness in regards to those "zero talent" skills, which are equally as important as any skills we employ daily that require our highest level of talent.
"Zero talent" doesn't imply these are skills we aren't good at. It means we embody skills innately at which any human being can thrive, as long as he or she puts in the work and conscious effort to prioritize this skill set. Portraying all of these skills at the highest level can elevate you to a new level of success and reverence in the eyes of everyone close to you, be it coworkers, friends, family, and more. Below I've outlined a few of the most important "zero talent" skills we can improve in our individual lives in order to strengthen relationships, become more dependable, and be overall happier with who we are as individuals and how we live our lives. I've also suggested a concrete way to act on improving each of these skills, in case you feel you are lacking in any particular area.
Being on time.
We live in a society today in which everyone runs late -- sometimes even painfully late -- and we're all too familiar with sending and receiving that "Be there in 10!" text when it's already past the arranged meeting time. Sometimes we can't help it; mishaps happen, traffic can be unpredictable, and most of the time there are no repercussions. However, you become a much more dependable and trustworthy person if you're known to show up places on time. No one actually likes to wait on someone else for more than a few minutes. Being on time can improve overall relationships because no time will go wasted and more quality time will be spent enjoying each other's company.
Action: Wake up 15 minutes earlier for a week. The extra time in the mornings will bring you a sense of calmness because you won’t be rushing to get out the door.
Putting in effort.
You don't need to be talented to give 110 percent every time. The most successful people are often the ones who devote their efforts in the most productive ways. You can be born talented, but without effort that talent won’t get you very far. Skill and qualification gets you the job, work ethic keeps you the job and shows your commitment to rise to higher levels.
Action: Try doing something new each week and give it your best shot. Even if it’s something small, like cooking a new dish, you’ll learn how putting in more effort will pay off in the long run.
This one is hard to do when it seems like the world is crumbling down around you sometimes. But optimism can change a situation in so many ways. Flight cancelled? Try to see something positive about the situation, like the camaraderie of being stuck in the same situation with a group of people you wouldn’t have spoken with otherwise. If you can train your brain to see the light in any dark situation, you will become an overall more positive person and, as a result, make yourself more appealing to spend time around because of your positive vibes.
Action: At the end of each day, write down (with pen and paper or a mental note) something good that happened that day. Once you make a habit of this, you’ll be able to more easily identify the good things that happen in your life and see those more prominently than the bad.
Having no passion you don’t show is like buying a candle but never lighting it. It doesn’t get a chance to glow and show off its purpose on this earth. If you aren’t fulfilling your passion, days can drag on and life can seem meaningless. Those who shine most brightly are those who are lit with a passion and put it to good use. Any amazing success story originally once started with one individual pursuing his or her passion, even if it didn’t seem right at the time.
Action: Reflect on what makes you truly happy. If you feel your true passion doesn’t fit into your life, find little ways you can intertwine what you love into your daily routine. If your passion is art, carve out time each evening to create. If your passion is watching your family succeed, put non-urgent work on the back burner so you can be there to witness those moments of success you treasure so much. Passion is unique for everyone, so identifying what yours is and making it a priority is going to be a journey only you can take.
Everyone always has something to learn. Even if you’re the CEO, you can still learn from everyone around you every single day. The more open you are to constant learning, the more you will grow and improve. The best leaders are the ones who know they are never done learning.
Action: Listen without sharing your thoughts or opinions. The world is filled with knowledge, and if you’re quiet enough, you’ll be able to absorb that knowledge like a sponge. You just have to be willing to take it all in.
There’s not much worse than being under-prepared. Whether it’s for a big interview, an exam, a presentation, or just the day ahead of you, under-preparedness will get the best of you and rarely takes prisoners. Sometimes our lives are too busy to be fully prepared for everything we have going on, which is understandable. But for the things that matter most, it’s crucial to be as prepared as you possibly can be for optimal results.
Action: Weigh your priorities and be able to say no to time-sucking activities when they take away from your time to prepare for a big upcoming event.
Everyone has been through something challenging and knows what it's like to feel inferior or beaten down. The best thing you can do for others in this situation is pass along encouragement and reassurance that they've got this, no matter what it may be. The only control you have over someone else's situation is believing in them, so show them you really do.
Action: Send letters (or text messages) of support to three people whom you know are about to confront something important. Maybe your friend has a big job interview or someone you know is having a medical procedure. There are a lot of stressors out there for everyone, and recognizing when loved ones are under stress and showing you’re there for them will help them through in more ways than you know. Don’t try to fix other people’s stress, just let them know you’re there when they need you.
Perhaps the most important skill in life is to be kind to those around us. A little kindness can go a long way, and, unfortunately, it’s something our world is truly lacking at the moment. So many of the world’s problems could be solved with just a little kindness, but we may not be fortunate enough to be able to change everyone. You, however, have the ability to control your own actions, which can cause a domino-effect of kindness in return.
Action: Tell three people close to you what you love most about them. It doesn't have to be prompted; sometimes it's even more special if kindness is shown for no reason.