Breaking out of prison

Are you ready to break out of prison? Than get ready to master the right skills.

“Breaking out of prison will force you to think differently and use a varied set of tools. No one will hand you a key to freedom. Just as in prison, you’ll need to make one yourself”.

Everyone is an expert at something, and this “something”, often has nothing to do with what you went to school for or even what you’ve been doing. “Everyone as another skill or fountain of knowledge, perhaps hidden away or currently unused, that can be uncovered and developed in pursuit of a different career goal”. It is also true that, if you are good at one thing, you’re probably good at something else. You probably gained skills along the way that can be repositioned and redeployed. To find these skills within you requires you to think outside the box and do a bit of research inside yourself. There is often more than one way to do something. You just need to look for it.

  • make a list of things you do well
  • write down at least one thing you hate doing and aren’t good at

I did this exercise myself, and I found it extremely helpful but also difficult. We often give so much for granted, that until we stop to think about it, we don’t even realize it’s there. Your goal is to focus on what needs to be upgraded. You will find that you have two sets of skills. The “hard skills” are the technical skills that related directly to the work you do, and they are important to what you do. The “soft skills” are those that are learned out in the real world and can be self-learned, and end up making you a more complete, well-rounded person as they are cross-navigate positions and professions.

There are a few of these soft skills that are very important no matter what you do. Having these skills, either innately or practiced, can give you a great vantage point moving forward:

  • improve your writing and speaking ability
  • learn to negotiate
  • improve your ability to follow through and follow up
  • become comfortable using technology

Another advice from the book, which I totally agree with, is to be so good that you cannot be ignored. If I think back to my career so far, I think one of the things I was always making sure to accomplish, was to be one step ahead of my boss. I took great pride in being always prepared, always have the answer before the questions was asked, to know everything about everything as much as possible, and stand out in a way that I couldn’t be ignored. I am not talking about flashing-ego type of standing out, but more of a knowledgeable and professional type, always having an opinion and a say in everything that concerned my bit of the business. I believe that the mix of all of these item ensured that I was noticed and valued and appreciated for the contribution I was making, so that others considered me an important and reliable part of the team.

I once attended a training that opened my eyes about skills. We often times believe, either with ourselves or our staff, that we need to put more focus on what we are not so good at, and try and develop those skills to improve. The reality is, that it is ultimately a waste of time. You are just not good at it, and your heart is not in it, so move on. The best and only thing you should focus on, is recognizing those skill you have, and excel at them. Only by doing this, you will find your way to your “career lottery” and professional happiness.

I am about to read the next chapter on “Finding your way” so stay tuned for more!

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