What is the Most Important Skill to Have?

I’m thinking about this question lately: what is the most important skill we need to have? What kind of skill do we need most in this kind of world? To answer it, I guess we need to see what the main characteristic of our world is.

What words will you use to describe this world? For me, there are two words which come to my mind: change and speed. The world is changing and it is changing at increasing speed.

Since we are now living in that kind of world, I once thought that the most important skill is the ability to learn quickly. Of course it contains truth: to be able to keep up with this world we need to learn quickly. This way we can quickly adapt to new changes whenever they occur.

But later I thought that the ability to learn quickly alone is not enough. The world is changing so fast that even those who can learn quickly may not be able to keep up. There’s one more thing required: the ability to choose what to learn. This way we won’t waste our time learning something which is not useful. We learn only those things which are the most effective for us. The number of new things to learn is huge that choosing which one to learn becomes increasingly difficult. Mastering the art of choosing what to learn is valuable because it will save our time – not to say our entire career.

So to summarize, I think this is the most important skill we need to have: the ability to choose what to learn and to learn them quickly. If we master this skill, we will be ready to face whatever new waves coming in our way.

If you have other thoughts about what you think is the most important skill, feel free to share them in the comments.


  1. it’s identifying the information sources most relevant to us. You are right.

    In a way, the internet is a giant playground for the mind. It doesn’t really matter what our physical characteristics are like, it’s our thoughts and ideas.

    Nice article, and highly relevant to a fast changing world.


  2. Thanks ggw … I agree with you, the Internet is a giant playground for the mind. It is orders of magnitude bigger than any other mind playground in human history.

    In fact, I believe that this era will have special spot in human history. It is in this the era that thoughts and ideas from the whole world can be exchanged like never before.

  3. For me its change and upgrading.You cant survive without being updated for new things.And Speed will depend on the environment.

  4. Yes Ashish, we won’t survive if we do not update ourselves. I think learning is one way for us to update ourselves.

  5. The ability to learn what to choose is an ability that needs to be learn on its own. So conceptually we must first master the ability to choose and from that we go on to become adept at learning quickly. Interesting idea and great blog post. Keep up the good work.


  6. Thanks Sania. Yes, “the ability to choose what to learn” is something we should learn on its own. Ideally we should have it before “learning them quickly”. Sadly, there are very few resources about it compared to “learning them quickly”.

  7. […] Somehow, it matches very well with what I believe to be the most important skill: the ability to choose what to learn and to learn them quickly. […]

  8. Personally I wonder if “Learing ability” is the most important keyword to focus your attention to. To me “Learning” seems to be an attempt from your Mind to add knowledge to my development. To me “Development” seems to have to do with Improvement of the Talents I have. Therefore things like ‘Spirit’ and ‘Soul’ seem to be important ‘Ingredients’ to take into account.

    In fact I wonder if for my Development it sometimes isn’t better to ‘un-learn’ some of the garbage that I have learned or conditioned myself with. Also taking into account that learning usually seems to deal with ‘The Past’, and not the ‘Present Time’.

    Hopefully this makes some sense?

    (If it does or doesn’t please let my know via my email at my Blog.)

  9. I think there are many perspectives to see this issue from. In my case, I tend to see it from the perspective of “how to keep up with this fast-changing world”.

    Your observation is very interesting. I agree that the role of “soul” and “spirit” are very important, and that we often need to “un-learn” something. These are new ways to look at this issue. Thanks for sharing!

  10. I don’t know if this is making any sense but, I am under the impression that with only using my mind, it sometimes feels like I am like a ‘Victim of time’, while when I attempt to let ‘Spirit’ and ‘Soul’ play a role also, time becomes an ‘ally’. . Asif I also act on ‘inner knowing’ or ‘knowing by heart’ rather than – like a ‘moving target’ – trying to act on continiously changing ‘rules I learn’ or am conditioned with. Asif my ‘Higher Self’ is in the driver seat. (whatever that might be.) I also write about this kind of stuff in my Syndicated Column: “HP’ Happy Vibe” You can find it on my blog.

  11. This post focuses on the practical aspect, and that’s why I wrote nothing about spirituality. But I agree that spirituality is indeed an important part of successful life. It gives us peace of mind and guidance.

  12. […] Life Optimizer – What is the Most Important Skill to Have? […]

  13. […] MindThis area deals with your desire to learn. In this fast-changing world, your ability to absorb new skill and knowledge become increasingly important (in fact, I think this is the most important skill you should master). To have a strong desire to learn, be sure to develop your intellectual hunger. […]

  14. […] I once wrote that the most important skill in this fast-changing world is “the ability to choose what to learn and to learn them quickly”. Smart learners master this skill well because they are able to both choose what to learn (which makes them effective) and to learn them quickly (which makes them efficient). […]

  15. […] Reading skill is absolutely important in the information age. These days we need to be able to absorb new information as fast and as efficient as possible. Since most of the information is presented in the form of text, reading skill is a must.  It is a substantial part of what I believe is the most important skill: the ability to choose what to learn and to learn them quickly. […]

  16. I think that Reading Skills are indeed very useful in this information age.

    Recently I discovered a very interesting site that might revolutionise the way we take in information! You can find out all about it at this link:


    and if your head isn’t spinning enough because of this incredible new way of reading, you can also read about an other important skill on my blog,

    ‘It’s not about ‘Reading’…., ‘

    It’s about Writing, ‘Successful Writing’ it’s about a little secret, about how to become a ‘Bestseller Writer’

    And if that also itsn’t enough to let your head spin, also read my post titled:

    ‘Logic is Over Rated’.

  17. […] skill is among the most important skills to have. So, given the importance of learning skill and the value of the e-book, I do think this is […]

  18. I’ve taken a look at all of these messages, just to see all possibilities, near the bottom there’s lot of emphrasis on reading efficient & thorough, wow that what I’ve been thinking & doing, I just like to live in a world where all help & ideas are shared, fighting for our revolution/evolution existance, knowing that entertainment makes us feel good, but better to promote to be good. idealistically tying education & entertainment together, as what entertains us must also educate E.g say something like intendo DS brain games

    but speed reading “yes” I need real lots of practice, routinely 4/5 hours daily, I have many tech. in software & paperback with needle pacer
    I been trying to, push eyes in fast spurts – few words -to- 1/2 line -to- whole lines, then try to acknowledge what I saw during/after each spurt, i am beginning to be able to go fast as a knitting needle-(pacer) can move to end of lines, & fluently comprehanding all I see, I know it’s a bit of ingenius know how 4U’s out there.
    but I work hard finding better ways. and there’s more I know about 4 this. all thro self discovery.

    I like sharing intellectual betterment
    even though I’ve being classified as a intellectually disabled. (I would die 4 a better life.) at present I am on facebook Mr. mark roberts, mn@three.com.au – and nothing to hide, despite all the risks.

  19. Take it from someone who can learn an entire textbook in a week. Speed of learning is not THE most important skill, but it is an incredible asset. Its actually very easy to get ahead in this life without being really smart or keeping up with all the developments in technology. Lots of the most wealthy people make all their money and know almost nothing about computers. Donald Trump, Warren Buffet and Bill Gates are all great examples (from how bad PCs function you would think he knows very little….LOL!!!) Seriously though. All the most wealthy people I know personally are good businessmen. Not the super smart IT guys. And what is the ONE THING good businessmen have? People skills. Social skills are the single most important skillset in the world. There have been studies about who generally gets promoted in the work place. Its usually the guy with the best social skills. These skills are important not only because they make you rich, but because they make you happy. Mark Zuckerberg and Sergey Brin are geniouses, and they are insanely rich. But are they happy? I dont know, but I know lots of people who are really rich and arent happy at all. However, I know lots of people who are pretty poor, and they are very happy because they have a very active social life. I believe this so much that I, a person who was always envied in school, a person with an IQ of 184 have devoted my life, NOT to being a super braniac. But being a super charismatic wonderful person. That is what brings happiness, and thus, that is what is the most important skill. OH, there is one skill that even with social skills without this one, you will never be happy, and that skill is charity. Loving others and doing things for them is in itself a social skill and will get you more friends and incredible and rewarding relationships than any amount of charisma or charm. Since its technically a social skill though. Social Skills are still the number one most important!

  20. Anyone can learn, and when properly motivated- even learn quickly. Choosing what to learn is important to be an efficient learner, but application of what we choose to be important is what moves the instruction into construction- the intangible into reality. The ability to merge ideas to produce a desired result can be satisfying, but application for applications sake, may not account to anything more than self validation. To be truely successful, application of what is learned needs to be relevant/useful, so I think that the ability to recognize when to use what we have learned, (sometimes it’s intentional, and sometimes we get lucky)is the mark of a genius.

  21. I like/agree with this proposal.

    If we learn text books supper fast, it does not make us smart or successful it makes us knowledgeable. period.

    If all the information is available we can conceive of is online, easier and faster to access then ever before, the CHOICES of which to follow is insane in #.
    you can follow your whims and interests everywhere, which is fine, but it won’t necessarily bring you success and comfort in a practical sense.

    The free universities for math and science online and everything else is great, WHAT ONE ASSET DO WE HAVE LEFT? time, time time time. we are all given 24h a day.

    I learn fast, do a lot of research, (but, I realized about a year or more ago, that I could not make choices of what to focus on (besides financial markets) that would be a skill set that would carry through for the next messily 10 years..

    I’ve stopped everything in my life, until those choices of what to learn is clear again. – very painful, but how can you choose if your 1/2 way somewhere and attached tot he outcome? Can you learn enough? NO, All your going to be doing is following the bell curve around. it’s a marathon and people are passing and falling behind you all the time.

    and someone mentioned spirit. – (yes are unlearning old patterns that fit old paradigms but we are replacing them with new patterns for the new paradigms..

  22. CHENG Chansereiyut
    CHENG Chansereiyut

    Active learner make the learning process happens not waiting to be shared like some people who just sit still and finally come up with “I am not shared”. They are the stupid learners. If we want to learn quicly, we need to build on active listening, reading and observation skills.

  23. Really helpful article…

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