Professional Development

13 Tough Skills You Must Master to Find Career Success

Written by Peter Jones

The best things in life often require you to exit your comfort zone. Career success doesn’t come easily; otherwise, everyone would shoot to the top of their field fresh our of college!

Here are 13 of the skills which are perhaps the hardest to learn, but are the most worth learning. Do yourself a favor and accrue a few.

1. Sleeping Soundly

If you can establish a ritual and stick with it, you’ll never need the ever popular “sleep hacks” everyone is scrambling around for. It may be tough to get into a routine, but you will never regret it.

2. Empathy

It’s a hard one to learn, but not impossible. And it’s incredibly valuable–both in the business world and in your personal life. If you can cultivate this kind of ability to feel what it might be like in others’ shoes, you will go far.

3. Time Management

That thing you parents were always on at you about? Turns out it’s pretty important. There’s no one right way to gain this skill, but as long as you find a system that works for you consistently, you’re golden. Employers will notice and be impressed.

4. Asking for Help

Knowing when you’re in over your own head and need a hand is a very important thing. Being able to ask for that help is the next big thing. But both are invaluable. This is a tough one to break, but invariably makes you look more capable, rather than less.

5. Consistency

Do you have a tendency to take your foot off the gas when you reach the next milestone? This is career death. You have to work hard and keep working hard. That’s how the most successful people get where they are.

6. Staying Positive

And not just about others—about yourself! Projecting confidence and cultivating positivity is very important. There will be times when no one else believes in you, but you should! Always.

7. Knowing When to Shut Up

If you’re whining or ranting or just talking about your kids, it’s always important to know when your audience has had enough, and to be able to shut your mouth and cede the mic. Plus, learning to bite your tongue when riled and in danger of saying something you’ll later come to regret is an important skill.

8. Listening

Start by practicing active listening—repeating back part of what the other person says to you, until you get more comfortable actually listening to what people are saying instead of waiting to say your next thing instead.

9. Minding your Own Beeswax

Know when to shut up and also when something is none of your concern. Your two cents aren’t always worth putting in. Know when to use your resources in someone else’s work and when to conserve them—for the benefit of all.

10. Avoiding Gossip

It’s delicious and seductive to fall into the trap of talking about someone behind their back, but it can have disastrous consequences for your reputation and relationships. Learn to keep it classy and keep your head above the fray.

11. Controlling Your Thoughts

Don’t let your own monkey brain or your emotions get the better of you. Continually direct your thinking toward the future, even if it is informed by the past. Move forward.

12. Being Present

People are constantly looking into greener pastures, dwelling in the past, or looking too far forward that they don’t remember to be present in the present moment. Focus on where you are and what you are doing and try to find happiness in that moment. If you can do it now, you’ll be able to do it in the future.

13. Speaking Up

Ninety percent of the battle of public speaking comes from doing it a few times—until you’re not so much afraid of it. But once you get comfortable speaking in public, whether in a small meeting or a huge amphitheater, you’ll be in possession of a huge asset that will stand you well in other areas of your life and career as well.

About the author

Peter Jones