Having a formal education is a prerequisite for getting knowledge and building skills for a future job, however, there are lots of essential life skills I had to learn outside school.
Don’t get me wrong, I learned an enormous amount in school, right from my primary education, but real life is just different and I list 5 skills that I didn’t learn in school.
How to fail well
The education system does not reward students having failures and learning from failures. As students, we were expected to get straight A’s and chastised for getting C’s or D’s.
I remember back in primary school, where we had this weekly classification of students into different rows based on performance. The worst students used to end up in row D and everybody shamed them, while the best were in row A.
The truth is that the real world (career or business) is different and if someone is going to do something great or audacious, it is pertinent for failure to occur. Therefore, it is important to learn how to fail and struggle well. A scientific research I read some time ago, recommended parents to allow their wards learn to start failing from an early age so as to help them build up the emotional agility to properly embrace failure later in life when the inevitable occurs.
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Ray Dalio, in his principles book, has a very good formula anyone can use:
Failure = Success
What he means is that the biggest issue most people have is that they have not made the connection to understand that failure is the same thing as success. So the right approach to take now in life is to view failures as puzzles that if solved, will give you gems that can become principles which will help you make a better decision or do a better job next time.
How to sell
We weren’t taught explicitly how to sell in school except you enrolled for a sales course. However, the ability to sell is a core skill that would serve you, whether as an employee or entrepreneur.
Most people have a big misconception about sales and confuse it with marketing; they think in terms of, “Oh… I have to go door to door in the sun or rain to convince customers about buying a product.” That thinking is wrong because we are all salesmen and women. If you think critically, you sell something every day; you just don’t know it.
A prospective job seeker has to prepare for an interview and sell himself before he gets a job. For example, understanding the values of the company you are interviewing at and stating how it’s in sync with your personal values to the panel is a way of selling yourself.
Employees at a job have to understand that the yearly appraisal is not the time to show your contributions to the company. Blowing your own horn is something you do daily. It could be your thoroughness, attention to detail, quality of your presentation, dressing, help for other departments, and innovative ideas for the company.
Prospective business owners are more likely to be involved in sales compared to employees. For a business owner, sales may be a broad thing and not just selling products to individual customers. It can mean marketing, communicating, recruiting, raising money and also inspiring people. Depending on the type of business, all of these things would have to be done at the same time.
For example, writing (copywriting) is a skill that can be learned easily compared to one-on-one selling or raising money, so you should understand your nature and commit effort and resources to learn what you can or outsourcing what you cannot do.
No lecturer taught me in school that my network will be tied to my net worth, it was after school that I realized the importance of networking and building relationships to enable me to move ahead in my career.
Networking is the act of establishing and nurturing mutually beneficial relationships that will be valuable in the short or long term.
Networking will help you develop and improve your skills, be abreast of industry trends, keep tabs on the job market, meet with mentors, partners, clients and help you gain access to the necessary resources to foster your career development.
Simple tools to increase productivity
The world seems to move so fast and everyone is faced with a myriad of challenges, but we are also bogged down by these things because we don’t seem to complete some of the targets we set for ourselves.
We have so many emails to attend to, social media is a continuous distraction, we are in the middle of so many books, and are not as fit as we think we should be. These are just a few of the little things that bother us, but for every problem there is a solution or hack to help.
Having tools to improve your productivity is a crucial skill to help you achieve better whether in your personal life, work or business.
A few examples to help boost productivity:
- Start your day by writing down your intentions. Tim Ferriss recommends the 5-minute journal. Just a few minutes each morning can save you hours of wasting time or scattering your effort each day. Sort out what truly matters each morning.
- Keep healthy snacks at your office to stay energized for a productive day.
- Wear headphones – Wearing headphones can help prevent distractions and unnecessary questions from people who think you are listening to music when you aren’t. Even if they ask you, they would have to weigh their questions carefully before asking.
- Read in the morning – Even if it’s for 15 minutes. It helps sharpen the mind and set it right for the rest of the day. Listening to quality podcasts also helps.
- Use pocket app to save articles, research, videos for later. There is a lot of information out there which cannot be digested in a short time. You can save information somewhere for future reference.
There are hundreds of productivity tools covering different facets that I cannot cover here, but the idea I’m trying to convey is that there are some issues you are facing that have faster routes to their solutions.
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School did not teach me what to say when I was negotiating for a salary and other benefits, but I had to. Negotiation is something we do all the time, be it in our personal or professional lives.
It could be negotiating between two different companies for a job, promotion, severance package, million naira deals for yourself or company, etc.
Real negotiation always produces a win-win situation for yourself and the other party and not war or a zero-sum game.