Everyone wants to have a fulfilling career. But what do you think you need to have it? While there are many possible answers, in my opinion there are at least two things you should have.

First, you should follow your heart. Following your heart means working on something that matters to you. It’s something that you do not because of money, but because of love and care. Second, you should live your fullest potential. It’s not enough just to do what matters to you. You should also grow your capacity to the fullest. I don’t know about you, but I feel deep satisfaction whenever I know that I’ve done my best.

Developing skillsThe key to living your fullest potential is developing your skills. You can only live your fullest potential if you always develop your skills so that you can give better and better value over time.

Here are seven tips for developing your skills:

1. Be curious

Curiosity is essential because it makes the process of developing skills much more enjoyable. If you are curious, you will naturally want to know more simply because it’s fun. You will go further and deeper than those who develop their skills because they must.

Here are some things you can do to build curiosity:

  • Don’t say that something is boring
    Saying that something is boring is killing curiosity since it closes door of possibilities.
  • Make asking a habit
    Often we take things for granted and accept them as they are. Don’t. Build the habit of digging deeper below the surface. Your tool to do that is questions.
  • Make things fun
    Don’t just look at the serious side of things. Look at their fun side too.

2. Develop your learning skill

Learning skill should be the first skill you develop because it greatly helps you develop other skills. An essential ingredient to have good learning skill is motivation. If you are motivated to learn about a subject, it will be much easier for you to learn it. Again, curiosity plays an important role here because a curious person is naturally motivated.

There are many books that can help you hone your learning skill but two that I recommend are Accelerated Learning for the 21st Century and Learn More Study Less.

3. Be a versatilist

A versatilist is someone who can easily adapt to new situations and quickly develop the skills necessary to excel. Being a versatilist essentially means being a smart learner who knows what to learn and how to quickly learn it.

To know what to learn, a versatilist should anticipate the future. That way he will get a sense of what new skills will be in demand and prepare himself before most people do.

Here are two posts that further discuss this topic:

4. Find your role models

It will be easier for you to grow if you have concrete examples of what you want to be. That’s why it’s important to find your role models. Your role models give you a standard to achieve so that you know where and how far you should go in developing your skills. It will also motivate you since you know that someone has already achieved such high standard.

5. Find your mentors

While having role models is good, in many cases you can’t connect directly with them. But developing skills will be much easier if you work with those who have gone through it. That’s why you should find not just role models but also mentors. Ideally your mentors are also your role models but at least they are those who are more experienced than you. These people can teach you what to do and what not to do so that you don’t have to find them yourself the hard way. You can save a lot of time.

Finding mentors, of course, is not easy. Often you should give first before someone is willing to become your mentor. Try to be useful to them by helping them in whatever way you can. Give them a reason to invest their time in you.

6. Get feedback through real projects

The best way to develop your skills is through real projects. Why? Because real projects give you the much needed feedback to hone your skills. While many people prefer to wait until everything is well-prepared before working on real projects, you will learn faster by working on something real. You may face failures in the process but they are your stepping stones to success since they give you precious lessons.

7. Shorten your learning cycle

The speed of your skill development depends on the length of your learning cycle. The shorter your learning cycle, the faster you will develop your skills. Here are some ideas to shorten your learning cycle:

  • Make quality effort
    I already mentioned that you should work on real projects since they give you important feedback. But having feedback alone won’t help you much. You must have quality feedback. To have it, ensure that your effort is quality effort. Prepare yourself as good as you can (without being over prepared) before launching an initiative. This way the feedback you get will be of higher quality.
  • Measure comprehensively
    The feedback you get should also cover as many dimensions as possible. You can achieve it by measuring your performance comprehensively. The more metrics you measure, the better feedback you will get. Of course, the metrics should be chosen carefully so that you don’t waste your resources on measuring.
  • Act upon the feedback
    After getting the feedback, you should act diligently upon it. Learn as much as possible from the feedback to get the most possible points for improvements. Then choose the most potential ones and do your best to improve them before launching your next initiative.

***

These tips will help you develop your skills and make your career more fulfilling. Not only will you do what matters to you, but also you will get the satisfaction of knowing that you’ve done your best.

This article is part of September 2008 theme: Fulfilling Career

Photo by scui3asteveo


Categories: Working

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  • http://sidsavara.com Sid Savara

    Especially like the tip about having mentors. I would add that it’s important to be “mentorable” (is that a word?). Sometimes I have reached out to people who I believed I could help, or who even asked for help, and then upon receiving constructive criticism they either ignored it, or wanted to “keep trying it my way a little longer.”

    If you’ve come to a mentor for a specific purpose, and they give you advice on that and you ignore it on a consistent basis – you better not be surprised if they aren’t your mentor much longer. I am patient with people, but if they’re just trying to get me to say what they want to hear and don’t want to listen to the hard work that needs to be done, they can get that elsewhere.

  • http://www.lifeoptimizer.org Donald Latumahina

    Sid,
    I agree completely with you. Being “mentorable” is very important because otherwise we miss the point of mentoring. It’s ironic if people try to get the best mentors out there but forget the necessary foundation of being “mentorable”.

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  • http://theintuitivespirit.com/ Barbe Ratcliffe

    I also think its so important to learn from your past, and understand how to apply what you’ve learned towards your future endeavors. You’re absolutely right in learning how to shorten your learning curve as much as possible. Learning is what moves us forward, and the quicker we can take past experiences, and apply them to a new improved future, the better.

  • http://www.billionairewoman.com Nathalie Lussier from Billionaire Woman

    I love the idea of never saying anything is boring. What we think of certain tasks actually carries over and causes a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy.

    Thanks for the in-depth article, it has been bookmarked for later review. :)

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  • http://www.lifeoptimizer.org Donald Latumahina

    Barbe,
    That’s a good idea! I agree that we should learn from the past. Many people repeat the same mistakes again and again because they never learn from the past.

    Nathalie,
    You put it right: it’s like a self-fulfilling prophecy. I find it that way in my life. Whenever I say negatively about something, it does become negative. The opposite is also true: whenever I say positively about something, it becomes positive.

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  • yasin

    jai ho…. proud to say am fan of A.R.Rahman

  • http://underagereading.wordpress.com Elizabeth

    I wish you’d rethink having all the topical terms (“developing” “skills”) highlighted. It makes it very hard to read what looks like an interesting post.

  • http://www.lifeoptimizer.org Donald Latumahina

    Elizabeth,
    I don’t highlight those terms. It seems that you clicked the Cached link on Google search result page which took you to a Google cache of this page. In that case, the one who highlighted the terms was Google, not me. Or perhaps you installed certain add-on in your browser that highlighted those terms.

  • jennifer hendricks

    life skills still feel like a kid. and im 31years old.dont know how to communicate with mature people my age.

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