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8 Essential Skills They Didn’t Teach You In School

8 Essential Skills They Didn’t Teach You In School

Lately, I’ve been simultaneously using less and less of what I learned in school while discovering more and more skills that are vital to success which were never even offered in school!

If I were to be 100% honest, probably the most valuable skill I learned in college was how to talk to girls (certainly a vital skill for happiness and success, but not what I was there to learn).

The economics classes? Nope, mostly academic mumbo-jumbo that is entirely useless to all but a handful of policy makers. The computer science classes? Hmm, maybe about 10% of that I’ve used, but it’s nothing I couldn’t have picked up with a couple good books, which I routinely do now. The history, English, philosophy, and physics? Aside from giving me a general understanding of the world and making me sound smart at cocktail parties, I can’t think of anything in there that I really use on a day to day basis.

Much of college gave me a bad taste for education. It made learning a real drag. I got through it to get the degree, but it wasn’t until after school that my education really began.

So what are the top skills that should be taught to every man, woman, and child who enters our education system? I’m glad you asked…

How to make people like you and network

For a skill so essential to success that affects every area of your life (from dating, to family, to work) it’s amazing how little people know about this. I can hear you saying…”I thought some people were just born with it and the rest of us were out of luck! You mean it’s something you can study?” Well, yes!

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There is great power in knowing you can reach out to your network whenever you have a problem to solve, to be able to reach key influencers at conferences and meetings, to make an impression on audiences, to project confidence and trustworthiness, and to make friends with other successful people.

The shy folks lurking in the corners at cocktails parties will never reach their full potential as human beings because our school system didn’t place enough value on “being social”. President Bush didn’t get the best grades at Princeton, but boy did he know how to network, and look where that got him.

Required reading: How to Win Friends and Influence People and How to Talk to Anyone: 92 Little Tricks for Big Success in Relationships.

How to speed read and the power of audio books

Yes, speed reading and speed comprehension is real. The nominal investment of time it takes to learn pays off in spades for the rest of your life. After all, how would your life be different if you were able to read an extra book each week?

The same goes with audio books. If you spend an hour per day in the car learning instead of cursing at other drivers or listening to Britney Spears, you will have attended the equivalent of an entire semester course. Every major book today comes out on audio book, and you can read (listen to) them all without taking any additional time out of your day. Why wouldn’t you?

Looking at all the “required reading” links in this article might seem a little overwhelming, but I was able to listen to them all on audio books while driving around town. It was actually fun.

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Required reading: The Psychology of Achievement by Brian Tracey

How to set goals and manage time

Want to know how to get anything done in life? Our school system doesn’t feel that this is worth teaching apparently, but call me crazy, I think it’s important (I’m probably preaching to the choir on LifeHack.org, but still).

The research that has come out lately is groundbreaking…everything from eliminating multi-tasking, using blocks of uninterrupted time where phone and email are off, prioritized to-do lists, urgent but unimportant vs. non-urgent but important tasks, etc.

If you have ever found yourself being busy all day only to wonder what you accomplished at the end of it, then you need to learn this stuff. Understanding productivity will give you such an advantage over other people it’s hardly even fair.

Required reading: Getting Things Done, Eat That Frog, No B.S. Time Management For Entrepreneurs

How to read a financial statement

Robert Kiyosaki is fond of saying that the rich teach their children how to read financial statements and the poor do not. He is right. Schools have never been very good at teaching people how to get rich, probably in no small part because professors are generally poor and wouldn’t know how to teach it.

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Yet with 95% of our population retiring at or below the poverty level, the economy in the dumps, and many people losing their homes to foreclosure, I bet plenty of Americans wish their school system had been a little more focused on money. After leaving college my friends could tell you the symbolic meaning behind the Brother’s Grimm Fairy Tales, but they couldn’t tell you the difference between a balance sheet and income statement. Nice job school system!

Required reading: Cash Flow Quadrant, or this blog article

How to negotiate, use contracts, and not get taken advantage of

If you want to accomplish anything of significance you’re going to have to work with other people. Whether its contractors, outsourcing, employees, etc…there is a certain art to structuring good contracts with these people, knowing how to find good talent, measuring results, knowing how to fire them, and not getting completely taken for a ride in the process. School teaches you none of this and most people have to learn it from the school of hard knocks by literally get taken advantage of several times.

Required reading: I haven’t seen many in this area but one that comes to mind is Donald Trumps The Art Of The Deal

How to save and invest

Again, people are never taught how to build wealth, which is why we have a nation in credit card debt. Moreover, they are never taught the power of passive income streams and how to really break free from the rat race of working 9-to-5. There is a whole body of literature on this topic which is never even touched upon in traditional education.

Required reading: The Richest Man In Babylon, The Millionaire Next Door, or Ben Franklin’s The Way To Wealth

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How to be successful in life

Sounds sort of broad, doesn’t it? Yet some people have devoted a lifetime to understanding what makes people happy and successful. There are the big three: health, wealth, and relationships. People need to find what they really want to do with their life (something few of us ever really think about). We need to figure out how to do scary things that would be good for us, break bad habits, how to let go of bad things in the past, etc. There is a lot to learn here!

Required reading: What To Say When You Talk To Yourself, When I Say No I Feel Guilty, Think and Grow Rich, The Way Of The Superior Man (Ladies maybe you can recommend a relationship book for women in the comments)

How to spread an idea and basic marketing

Finally, I’ll just say that the basics of marketing are something everyone should understand. Even if you don’t think you’re in marketing, you’re in marketing. If you have an idea at work, or want to get a raise, or want to convince your kids to go see a movie then there is something applicable from the marketing world. Even just picking out a good headline for something you’re writing so that it will actually get read requires some basic marketing skills.

Required reading: Dan Kennedy’s The Ultimate Sales Letter, CopyBlogger, The Psychology of Influence

Conclusion

Until the school system comes around, I suppose its up to each of us to take care of our own education. That means reading, finding mentors, audio books, going to conferences, and of course blogs are a great resource.

What did you miss out on in school that you wish you’d learned? Or if you’re an educator do you feel there is a mismatch between what is taught and what’s important? Leave a comment below!

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Last Updated on January 3, 2020

The 10 Essential Habits of Positive People

The 10 Essential Habits of Positive People

Are you waiting for life events to turn out the way you want so that you can feel more positive about your life? Do you find yourself having pre-conditions to your sense of well-being, thinking that certain things must happen for you to be happier? Do you think there is no way that your life stresses can make you anything other than “stressed out” and that other people just don’t understand?  If your answer is “yes” to any of these questions, you might find yourself lingering in the land of negativity for too long!

The following are some tips to keep positive no matter what comes your way. This post will help you stop looking for what psychologists call “positivity” in all the wrong places!  Here are the ten essential habits of positive people.

1. Positive people don’t confuse quitting with letting go.

Instead of hanging on to ideas, beliefs, and even people that are no longer healthy for them, they trust their judgement to let go of negative forces in their lives.  Especially in terms of relationships, they subscribe to The Relationship Prayer which goes:

 I will grant myself the ability to trust the healthy people in my life … 

To set limits with, or let go of, the negative ones … 

And to have the wisdom to know the DIFFERENCE!

 2.  Positive people don’t just have a good day – they make a good day.

Waiting, hoping and wishing seldom have a place in the vocabulary of positive individuals. Rather, they use strong words that are pro-active and not reactive. Passivity leads to a lack of involvement, while positive people get very involved in constructing their lives. They work to make changes to feel better in tough times rather than wish their feelings away.

3. For the positive person, the past stays in the past.

Good and bad memories alike stay where they belong – in the past where they happened. They don’t spend much time pining for the good ol’ days because they are too busy making new memories now. The negative pulls from the past are used not for self-flagellation or unproductive regret, but rather productive regret where they use lessons learned as stepping stones towards a better future.

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4. Show me a positive person and I can show you a grateful person.

The most positive people are the most grateful people.  They do not focus on the potholes of their lives.  They focus on the pot of gold that awaits them every day, with new smells, sights, feelings and experiences.  They see life as a treasure chest full of wonder.

5. Rather than being stuck in their limitations, positive people are energized by their possibilities.

Optimistic people focus on what they can do, not what they can’t do.  They are not fooled to think that there is a perfect solution to every problem, and are confident that there are many solutions and possibilities.  They are not afraid to attempt new solutions to old problems, rather than spin their wheels expecting things to be different this time.  They refuse to be like Charlie Brown expecting that this time Lucy will not pull the football from him!

6. Positive people do not let their fears interfere with their lives!

Positive people have observed that those who are defined and pulled back by their fears never really truly live a full life. While proceeding with appropriate caution, they do not let fear keep them from trying new things. They realize that even failures are necessary steps for a successful life. They have confidence that they can get back up when they are knocked down by life events or their own mistakes, due to a strong belief in their personal resilience.

7. Positive people smile a lot!

When you feel positive on the inside it is like you are smiling from within, and these smiles are contagious. Furthermore, the more others are with positive people, the more they tend to smile too! They see the lightness in life, and have a sense of humor even when it is about themselves. Positive people have a high degree of self-respect, but refuse to take themselves too seriously!

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8. People who are positive are great communicators.

They realize that assertive, confident communication is the only way to connect with others in everyday life.  They avoid judgmental, angry interchanges, and do not let someone else’s blow up give them a reason to react in kind. Rather, they express themselves with tact and finesse.  They also refuse to be non-assertive and let people push them around. They refuse to own problems that belong to someone else.

9. Positive people realize that if you live long enough, there are times for great pain and sadness.

One of the most common misperceptions about positive people is that to be positive, you must always be happy. This can not be further from the truth. Anyone who has any depth at all is certainly not happy all the time.  Being sad, angry, disappointed are all essential emotions in life. How else would you ever develop empathy for others if you lived a life of denial and shallow emotions? Positive people do not run from the gamut of emotions, and accept that part of the healing process is to allow themselves to experience all types of feelings, not only the happy ones. A positive person always holds the hope that there is light at the end of the darkness.  

10. Positive person are empowered people – they refuse to blame others and are not victims in life.

Positive people seek the help and support of others who are supportive and safe.They limit interactions with those who are toxic in any manner, even if it comes to legal action and physical estrangement such as in the case of abuse. They have identified their own basic human rights, and they respect themselves too much to play the part of a victim. There is no place for holding grudges with a positive mindset. Forgiveness helps positive people become better, not bitter.

How about you?  How many habits of positive people do you personally find in yourself?  If you lack even a few of these 10 essential habits, you might find that the expected treasure at the end of the rainbow was not all that it was cracked up to be. How could it — if you keep on bringing a negative attitude around?

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I wish you well in keeping positive, because as we all know, there is certainly nothing positive about being negative!

Featured photo credit: Janaína Castelo Branco via flickr.com

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