[This post is part of a series on “Mental models and beliefs: an exercise to identify yours.” If you don’t see a Table of Contents to the left, click here to view the series, where you’ll get more value than reading just this post.]
We are a social species. Most of what we care about in our environments are other people.
Maybe I’m different than most people because I spent so much of my life not working on or valuing social skills — a PhD in physics doesn’t force you to learn social skills. Learning them later in life, I think I value them a lot more than I would have if I had them earlier in life. The social and leadership skills I’ve mastered have brought me reward and achievement beyond what I would have expected otherwise.
Of course other skills matter and become more important if you don’t have enough. I don’t know what the threshold for non-social skills would be, but I assume any readers not over it know to prioritize getting over it. Once over that threshold, I believe improving social skills improves your life more than any other.
A model for direction in leadership and personal development: Social skills are among the most important skills to develop
To me social skills mean leadership skills. Well, not all social skills relate to leading, but I find the important ones do.
If you don’t know how to lead, you can only do what you can do yourself. If you can lead, you can achieve anything anyone else did with a team. Since we are social and influence each other, even if you want only to live a quiet, happy, rewarding life you still have to lead yourself.
The more you know how to lead, the more you are in control of your life, career, and relationships. The less you know how to lead, the more your life, career, and relationships are out of control or controlled by others.
Whether you want to lead only yourself to an authentic life of integrity by your values or teams of others to great things, you need to know how to lead yourself first.
What other types of skills apply to so much?
Strategy: Improve your social skills
If you’re wondering where to develop yourself, unless you have serious deficiencies elsewhere, you generally won’t go wrong developing social skills.
When I use this belief
I use this belief when trying to figure out what to work on.
What this belief replaces
This belief replaces working on non-social skills, like technical skills.
Needless to say, I’m saying this as someone who devoted the better part of a decade to learning science and math skills, which followed an undergraduate education in liberal arts.
Where this belief leads
This belief leads to better relationships, better knowing yourself, and greater achievement.
Learn to make Meaningful Connections
with a simple, effective exercise from my book, Leadership Step by Step.
- Step by step instructions
- Video examples of me and Marshall Goldsmith
- An excerpt from my book