Many of life’s most important skills cannot be taught in a classroom. They’re acquired by living, observing others, and making mistakes.
The great thing about being surrounded by people who have experienced more than you is being able to pick their brains. We turned to a recent Quora thread that asked users for the most valuable skill a person can have for their entire life.
After sorting through the responses, here are our 13 favourites:
1. Articulating what you think and feel
“It’s extremely important for a person to learn to put into words what he thinks. It makes a relationship last. It creates an impression on the person you’re talking to. It gives you a chance to explore what others think about your ideas.” — Quora user Abhishek Padmasale
2. “Stealing” from the greats
“If you want to be successful, you must learn to steal! Or, ‘model.’ Modelling is a process of going in and figuring out what the expert does. If you want to be successful in life, find someone who is great and attach to them at the hip. As Pablo Picasso said: ‘Good artists copy. Great artists steal.'” — Quora user Martin Armstrong
“With self-discipline and perseverance you can acquire any skill. We all make resolutions throughout the year. The only thing stopping us from completing all these resolutions is ourselves. An inner voice within us stops us from waking up early in the morning or meeting new people. If we have proper self discipline we can suppress this voice and live a life that is defined by our own rules.” — Quora user Nikant Vohra
4. Knowing what you don’t know
“The only difference between the guy who achieves his own definition of success and the guy who doesn’t, is that one of them knew what questions to ask. One of them knew what needed to be improved upon. One of them decided to be honest about what it is they don’t know.”
— Quora user Nicolas Cole
“You can be broke, unintelligent, foolish, and physically unattractive and still be successful if you have the ability to make other people genuinely want to help you. Charismatic people are easy to recognise; they’re the ones you can’t help but like. They make other people feel good about themselves, are always present in the moment in your conversation, and have an uncanny ability to inspire trust.” — Quora user Michael Graham
6. The ability to accept and move on
“Accept that life can’t always be the way you want. Accept that everyone in the world can’t behave the way you want them to. Accept that you can’t keep everyone happy. Accept that worrying won’t do any good. Accept that your happiness lies in your hands.” — Quora user Shruti Chopade
7. Thinking differently
“Do something better than anyone else in the world, even if what you do best has a very tiny niche. Being able to do something that 100 million other people can do, while potentially important, is likely not nearly as valuable as having a skill that is unique.” — Quora user Auren Hoffman
“We all have our demons. Being able to recognise that everyone is fighting their own battle (regardless of how trivial it may seem to you) is a formidable skill to have. It allows for understanding, which often paves the way to friendship, rapport, and a multitude of other fundamental dynamics that allow us to foster real and lasting relationships.” — Quora user Ajay Nayr
9. Turning obstacles into opportunities
“Obstacles are everywhere. The weak are broken by it, the strong survive it, and the great turn it into opportunities. What matters most is not what these obstacles are, but how we see them, how we react to them, and whether we keep our composure.” — Quora user Atul Pradhananga
10. Reading quickly
“Learn to read very quickly with high retention. Tony Robbins taught himself to speed read by reading one book a day. Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger spend 80% of their day reading. 86% of wealthy love reading. It is one of the few skills that can directly create other skills.” — Quora user Sam Yang
11. Mastering graceful confrontation
“Mastering this skill sets your mind free. It not only eases the unwanted stress, but it also gives positivity to an individual because he/she has no underlying layers of emotions towards a certain person. Confront. Say you have a problem. Sort it out. Be happy.” — Quora user Neha Kariyaniya
12. Not taking conflict personally
“Whenever we are engaged in a heated discussion with someone we tend to listen more with the intent of replying, than actually understanding his point of view. We try to combat by bringing things from the past and let our preconceived notions about the other person cloud our judgment.
“Respond to his points, not his behaviour.” — Quora user Manas J. Saloi
13. Making people smile
“To make people laugh and not hurt anybody’s feeling is not an easy task. The people with this beautiful skill can tackle any situation.” — Quora user Hitha Sudhi
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