Wednesday, October 27, 2010

People Skills and Personal Strengths - The Bottom Line

I'm in a "bottom-line" mood right now. Kind of a "no-BS" mood. With tones of "bearing witness" mixed in.

So. The bottom line.

If you want to be effective in the world, if you want to be capable of adding value, so people will give you money to do what you do, you need to be capable in a few specific areas.

1. The business. Is it the restaurant business? If so, do you understand that business? Can you cook great food? Can you wait tables? Is it the clothing retail business? Is it the military? Do you understand small unit tactics? Can you operate weapons? You gotta know the business. You gotta have business savvy.

2. Administration/management. Can you organize things? Account for things? Control things? Conserve things? Can you use the machines and devices and programs that do these things? Money. Supplies. Tools. Facilities. Transportation. Vehicles. Communication. Technology. Money. Information. Stuff.

3. People skills. Are you good with people? Do you know really effective ways to listen to people? Give them positive feedback? Constructive feedback? To encourage them? Inspire them? Influence them? There are several dozen specific people skills. You can do these well and people will respond well to you, love interacting with you in life or at work. Or you can be hard to deal with.

4. Personal strengths. Life is a struggle. The world isn't wired to make you successful. The world doesn't know anything about you. Doesn't care about you. You have to strive against adversity. Meet challenges and do the hard things to work through them and prevail. Every day. Patience. Courage. Perseverance. Effort. Compassion. Intuition. Rationality. And dozens of other hard things. If it's not your pattern to engage these strengths, you'll have a very hard time working your way through life. And of course that's the case with many people.

All these areas of capability are important. People who want to be successful should get serious work about developing themselves in all four of these areas.

Here's what's interesting. Most people "get" the first two areas of capability. They understand and value business savvy and administrative skills. The other two areas - people skills and personal strengths - are poorly understood, or not understood at all.

But people skills and personal strengths are just as important, if not more important than business savvy or administration skills. You could graduate at the top of your law school class and pass the bar exam on the first try, but if you're clumsy with people, if you aren't strong as a person, you won't succeed. People won't want to work with you. Won't want to hire you. You'll falter when things get tough.

That's the bottom line. I know this perspective isn't the default one in our culture. But it's really what's going on.

And that's why, at this time of my life, that I focus on people skills and personal strengths almost exclusively. On this blog. And in my new online self-development service, ProStar Coach.

Post by Dennis E. Coates, Ph.D., Copyright 2010. Building Personal Strength .

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