An Essential Rule in Building Your Skills (and 3 Ways to Apply It)

Do you want to have a successful career? Even better, do you want to have a fulfilling one?

To have such a career, your skills play an important role. Why? Because your skills can make your career both successful and fulfilling.

The question is: how should you build your skills?

To answer that question, I believe that there is an essential rule you should follow in building your skills. The rule is this:

Build upon what you’ve built

Don’t start something from scratch. Instead, build upon what you’ve built.

I read a book related to this titled So Good They Can’t Ignore You by Cal Newport. It has an interesting concept called career capital. Here is the definition: the skills you have that are both rare and valuable and that can be used as leverage in defining your career.

Career capital is something you need to build if you want to have a remarkable career. You build it by developing your skills until they become rare and valuable.

Doing this requires consistency. You can’t achieve that level of expertise if you keep switching from one thing to another.

There is an example in the book of someone who had worked in advertising for years. One day, however, she decided to leave her job and start a yoga studio, something that was totally unrelated to her previous career. She did this with just a 200-hour certificate in yoga training. And what happened? The yoga studio ended up failing.

The lesson here is that you should look at the skills you already have and build upon them.

There are three ways to apply this:

  1. Take your current skills to the next level. If your skill is writing, for instance, then aim to become a better writer.
  2. Build a related skill. If your skill is teaching, then build a related skill such as public speaking. This is what I did. I have years of experience as a lecturer, so I have some skills in teaching. I then decided to improve my public speaking skills.
  3. Combine your skills. Combining your skills is a good way to reach the top of your field. For example, it’s difficult to become the best writer, but becoming the best photography writer is more manageable. In this case, two skills are combined: writing and photography.

To apply these three ways, you may want to ask yourself these three questions:

  • How can I get better at what I do? (#1)
  • What related skills can I build? (#2)
  • How can I combine my existing skills to achieve something new? (#3)

By answering these questions and acting upon them, you will be on your way to a successful and fulfilling career.


  1. Cal newport has a great advise. It comes like this,
    Don’t do what you love, but learn to love what you do.
    I think tos great advice.
    I’m medical doctor but what I really love is web development and programming. But in a novice there.
    So combining what you say,
    I should research on medical web site and software development.

  2. Great inspiration m wondering what should i do m an accountant person i specialise on buying and selling at work or even during my spare time i got my small business of buying andselling.

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