9 non-obvious skills successful people use to move forward in life

There are lots of ways to succeed in life. But it’s hard to deny that one of the reasons some people go far is because of skills they have mastered.

When you look at people who have done great things, it’s easy to see some of the skills that got them where they are. Often, they are highly intelligent, extremely motivated, and have specialist skills such as computer programming or musical ability that have helped them become successful.

However, there are some less obvious skills that can have an impact on your success in life.

And often, these are skills you can build for yourself. Consider adding some of these skills to your repertoire if you want to go far.

1) Listening

 Listening is so underrated as a predictor of success.

After all, listening is the key to all successful communication.

How else will you learn something new if you don’t know how to listen?

Plus, if you want to lead and motivate others, or you want to sell them something, you need to understand their needs, desires, and personalities. Listening is the key to all of that.

“The most basic and powerful way to connect to another person is to listen,” writes medical educator and author Rachel Naomi Remen. “Just listen.  Perhaps the most important thing we ever give each other is our attention.”

Active listening helps us learn something new from other people. It also shows them that we respect their opinions.

So no matter what success looks like to you, learning how to listen can be a valuable component.

2) Communication

Listening is a key part of effective communication. But it’s only one component.

Being able to communicate effectively with others is key to success not only in your career or business, but also in your personal relationships.

These days, we have more options for communication available to us than ever before. As well as talking face-to-face, we can talk on the phone, chat online, email each other, or interact through social media.

All of these forms of communication require slightly different etiquette and techniques to be effective.

Mastering the art of clear and concise communication can turbocharge your success in life. After all, some of the most successful people who ever lived got where they did by being great at communicating their ideas to others.

3) Empathy

Empathy is something we all have to one degree or another. But as well as being a nice trait to have on a personal level, it can be key to driving success.

A study conducted by the Center for Creatively Leadership on almost 7000 leaders from around the world found that empathy is positively related to job performance.

After all, if you need to lead other people, you first need to understand them.

Empathy helps you to appreciate the emotional lives of others. Obviously, this can make you a better leader.

But it can also help you to convince other people of your own viewpoint, a skill that is essential in sales and business development.

Plus, empathy is key to having a rewarding personal life. After all, nobody likes a selfish person. Developing greater empathy helps you understand the feelings of others and makes you more generous and more pleasant to be around.

4) Learning

The good news about the skills you need for success is that you can often learn them.

But it’s fair to say that learning is an important skill all by itself.

Often, your ability to learn something new can be the key to great success. Processing and synthesizing new information allows you to come to fresh conclusions and makes sure you are keeping your projects on the right track.

That doesn’t necessarily mean learning in a school setting, although that can be valuable for certain paths in life.

Instead, it means learning from the people around you. Even more crucially, it means learning from your mistakes.

Billionaire investor Warren Buffet once said, “There’s one investment that supersedes all others: Invest in yourself.”

Learning something new, whether it’s an information or new skill, is the best way to do that.

5) Time management

We all have the same twenty-four hours in a day. But successful people know that how you use those hours determines how far you’ll go in life.

That’s why successful people often focus to the point of obsession on how to use their time for the best effect.

They may listen to audiobooks while on a morning run so that they can work on both their physical health and their knowledge base at the same time. They may delegate as many tasks as they can to others to free themselves up for the big picture.

Personally, I write while walking on a treadmill.

This allows me to use my time as efficiently as possible by getting some exercise while I’m working.

It doesn’t have to be big things. Find the best way to maximize your hours, and you’ll find yourself on the path to success.

6) Efficiency

Managing your time well helps you to operate more efficiently. And efficiency is one of the most important skills you can have for success.

“You can calculate work efficiency with this formula: output / input = efficiency,” writes success coach Tony Robbins. “The output in the formula is the standard labor hours. The input is the actual number of hours you or your employees worked. Then multiply it by 100 to get a percentage. That’s your work efficiency.”

In other words, efficiency comes down to how you spend your time. Focus on the things that provide the greatest return to make sure you are using your time efficiently.

Sometimes, that means letting less important things go while you focus on the big picture.

7) Influencing

Being able to influence others is a valuable skill that can take a lifetime to master.

This is especially true if your chosen career involves leading other people. Knowing how to get the best out of others means influencing them and encouraging them to be the best they can be.

Of course, influencing is also key to sales and marketing, both vital for anyone who runs their own business.

Influencing others doesn’t mean trying to control them. Instead, it’s often a case of showing them a better way to do things.

Sometimes, that means leading by example. Other times, it means using communication skills to understand their needs and desires so you can give them exactly what they want.

8) Networking

“Skillful networking allows you to be more visible, access and leverage more resources and relationships, and build partnerships and synergies to get things done and advance your career,” says business coach Palena Neale in this article on Forbes.

And yet, many people either neglect the power of networking or lack the skills to do it properly.

Networking with others doesn’t mean using them or creating one-sided relationships. Instead, Neale suggests approaching each relationship by asking yourself what you can bring to it.

By being helpful to others, you will soon build a reputation as a person worth talking to. This helps your network to grow and brings new opportunities and greater success.

Networking with other people in your industry is a great way to learn more about current trends and new opportunities. But there’s also lots to learn from people outside your chosen field.

Attend industry events to network with your peers, but try to also go to places that bring you into contact with people from very different walks of life from your own.

This will expose you to a broader range of viewpoints and give you a better chance of those eureka moments that can really drive success.

9) Money management

Money isn’t everything. But if you want to be successful, no matter how that looks to you, you need to get comfortable dealing with money.

And being good with money is about more than just not spending a lot. In fact, good money management can mean spending money on the right things.

For example, I use dictation software to drive my writing career. It allows me to write more words in a day and exercise while I do it. The software wasn’t cheap, but in the long run, it has allowed me to make much more money than I would have without it.

Sometimes, money lets you buy assets that can help you become more successful. So focus on spending your money on these things instead of frivolous purchases that won’t return any value.

Your skills define your success

Often, success is a question of what you can do. After all, the skills you cultivate are something no one can take away from you. And if you learn the right skills, you will be on the fast track to huge success.

Luckily, useful skills are something anyone can build.

You don’t need to be born to a particular family or in a certain place to develop the skills that will help you achieve great things. Start building your skills today to achieve success tomorrow.

Clifton Kopp

Welcome to my writings on Hack Spirit! I'm a bit of a "polymath" in that I like writing about many different things. Often I'm learning from the process of writing. I hope you enjoy, and please leave a comment on one of my articles.

I spent my 30s chasing adventure and avoiding commitment. Now in my 40s, I’m single and lonely.

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