The skills we forget we have

A thought occurred to me last night, something that has taken me over a year to realise, and as I wanted to write another blog I decided to share it with you…

I left university a year ago, feeling like I had none of the practical skills that are needed in the world of work.  Sure, I could write a good essay, I could read journal articles and discuss a certain business theory from different angles, but what good was that in the world of work?  I felt like I had nothing to offer apart from theoretical knowledge and the ability to write about it, and I felt like I had to learn those practical skills, and learn them fast.

What I didn’t appreciate at the time, though, was that I did have some practical skills.  For one, I could write!  Yes, I’d spent five years writing academic essays, but that doesn’t mean I can only write in that style.  What’s more, I enjoyed writing.  That’s one of the reasons I set up this blog and after all, if I didn’t enjoy it I wouldn’t have started doing it as a hobby.

I also failed to fully appreciate one of the other skills I was beginning to develop: public speaking.  I knew I was enjoying developing as a speaker and I felt like I had the potential to use this skill in my career.  So why did I still feel like I had no practical skills, nothing that would be useful in the workplace right now?  I think I didn’t consider public speaking to be one of the skills I would need in the foreseeable future, so I saw it as more of a hobby, and perhaps something I could use ‘one day’.  Until that day came, though, I still felt like I needed the basic practical skills needed to get a job.

I’m beginning to realise that these skills, speaking and writing, are more valuable than I ever gave them credit for.  When I’m writing a blog or a speech, it’s always about something that matters to me, and the process makes me think much more deeply about the topic.  This really helps me to form an ever-clearer picture of myself in my mind and further clarify what I think about the world we live in.  I consider myself very lucky to have these skills because they are incredibly powerful, enabling me to communicate my ideas to others effectively.  They’re both things I enjoy and currently do for just that reason, but with them I could choose to do many things.

So maybe I was too concerned about having the ‘right’ skills to enter the workplace, and I’m guessing I’m not the only one.  Looking at what I have now, I’m beginning to think that maybe we’re conditioned to believe we need to develop certain skillsets and get caught up trying to do that rather than doing what we enjoy and appreciating it as a skill in itself.  I’m not necessarily saying we don’t need to develop certain skills, but maybe these will be far more easily learnt or may even be developed automatically when we’re doing what we enjoy and what we’re passionate about.

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