We like to think that our education system prepares children for what’s to come in life. After years and years of schooling, children will grow and be able to lead successful lives. However, education curriculums seem to lean more toward teachable hard skills, such as typing and mathematics, rather than focusing on the soft skills necessary to become more emotionally intelligent and a well-rounded individual.
Some of the most important life lessons one can learn are never addressed in school settings. Take a look at a cover story by Psychology Today , which specifically outlines 10 of the most valuable life skills we need, yet aren’t taught in a classroom. Within this list, almost anyone and everyone can find something of value to them. It’s time we shift our focus to skills such as these. Hard skills have their merits, sure, but our workplace needs a balance of both hard and soft skills.
What’s the Difference?
Life skills, or soft skills, are not something we’re innately born with. We learn them from others and from experience. They’re intangible ways of living that allow us to live our happiest and most successful lives. It’s strange to think that these skills often aren’t taught and given the attention they deserve. Good communication, positive attitude, open-mindedness – all are examples of life skills.
All too often, we focus on mastering hard skills – actions that are definable and measurable. While these skills are certainly beneficial, they can only be useful for so much. Typing, programming, speaking a different language – all of which are hard skills.
Which Type is Better?
Both types of skills are useful in different scenarios.
Let’s say you’re taking a standardized test. If your main goal is to ace the test, then hard skills will be your friend. These skills will help you systematically solve problems quickly and efficiently.
But, if you’re more focused on accepting your score, learning from it, and looking forward with optimism, you’ll need to master your life skills.
Hard skills are very singular. They are activities that you can tangibly accomplish on your own.
On the other hand, life skills often require other people, such as being able to effectively work as a team or talk about an issue. While you can only control how well you implement your life skills, you’re given the opportunity to be in contact with others’ life skills, making the experience more interactive and rewarding for everyone.
Which Life Skills Are Best?
The answer to this question will differ depending on the person. We all have different areas of improvement and personal priorities and values. However, as stated earlier about the Psychology Today article, most people should be able to connect to at least one of the life skills cited and explained.
The skills that really spoke to me include: Staying true to your own values despite what others expect from you (6), Zoning in on your purpose in a zoned-out world (9), and Tolerating ambiguity (10).
Read the article, and evaluate yourself. Which life skills do you feel you mastered, and which do you want to work on? Are there other ones you’d like to add to the list?
With hard skills, you can often define when you’ve become expert at them. The beauty of life skills is that they can always be improved and worked upon. Not only can life skills make you a more valued asset in any professional setting, but they also make you a sophisticated and versatile person.