7 Essential Skills That Separate Successful People From Everyone Else (A Short, Practical Guide)

7 Essential Skills That Separate Successful People From Everyone Else (A Short, Practical Guide)

By Bill Murphy Jr.

Writing, public speaking, negotiating, and 4 other essential skills.

Think of the most most successful people you know.

Perhaps you’re thinking someone you grew up with, or went to school with. Maybe the people you imagine include someone you’ve worked with, or been fortunate to recruit as a mentor.

Maybe — although you’d never admit this out loud — maybe it’s you.

Regardless, no matter who we’re talking about here, I’ll bet I can identify 7 skills this person never stops trying to improve. Let me know how I am far from the mark.

1. Writing.

I’m a writer, so perhaps it’s inevitable that I’m going to put this one first. But, there’s more to writing than communicating.

Writing is the key to thinking things through. It’s why people can sit through a brief presentation and feel as though they’ve mastered a subject, only to realize when they’re really challenged to explain it, they don’t know it at all.

The more you write, the more you learn. And the more you learn, the better armed you are for what comes next.

2. Public speaking.

One-on-one communication is vital, but so is one-to-many. Yet, so often, people’s mediocre presentation abilities get in the way of excellent ideas. So, the most successful people among us seek out opportunities to present, to speak, and to share ideas.

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3. Problem-solving.

This skill is often a mash-up of other skills, of course. But the most successful people train themselves to see the opportunity in every problem, instead of the problem inside every opportunity. Among the crucial skills is the ability to break down seemingly insurmountable problems into much more manageable tasks.

Related realization: The second-most challenging problems in the world are the ones without obvious solutions, but the most challenging problems are the ones that most people take for granted — to the point that they don’t even realize they are problems.

4. Practicing generosity.

People won’t remember what you say or do, so much as they remember how you make them feel. (h/t, Maya Angelou among many others). One thing people do remember: when people treat them with generosity. So, the most successful people grapple with this word, learn its many definitions, and seek to incorporate it in their interactions.

Also: Generosity is the first-cousin of gratitude, which is the key to happiness and contentment.

5. Negotiating.

Everything in life can be a negotiation. That can sound a bit aggressive, but taken as a simple statement of fact it’s a lot less fraught.

The key is a recognition that in almost every interaction — from a big business deal to a simple conversation between friends or romantic partners — you’re trying to work together to achieve things you couldn’t achieve as effectively on your own.

6. Keeping ego in check.

The most successful people on the planet often describe themselves as lifelong learners. One of the obstacles that stops less successful people from following this goal is that they let themselves be threatened by the mere fact that other people and experiences have something to teach them.

But if you can train yourself not to be threatened — to keep ego in check, and seek out the lessons around you — you wind up gaining advantages beyond your ability to dream.

7. Building emotional intelligence.

I’ll end on this one, since I’ve written an entire free ebook on the subject: 9 Smart Habits of People With Very High Emotional Intelligence, which includes some of my favorite tricks about choosing the right language in order to inspire helpful emotional responses.

In short, once you recognize that people communicate on multiple emotional dimensions, and that there are ways to leverage emotions — both yours and other people’s — in order to achieve your goals, it becomes almost impossible to ignore. And frankly, a lot of fun to get better at.

*Bill Murphy Jr. is Founder of Understandably and Contributing Editor, Inc.

*This article first appeared on the Inc-aus.com website

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