Confession: I Only Have 4 Skills

by sheltron on 12 March 2012

It’s true. My confession to you today is that I only have 4 skills.

Skill #1: I Can Read

Being able to read is my first skill.

I read a speed reading book 4 years ago and it changed my life: 10 Days to Faster Reading by Abby Marks Beale

It increased my comprehension from 60-70% to 80-90% and increased my reading speed from 300wpm (already quite good) to 600-900wpm.

I can consume a regular sized business book in 2 to 3 hours. And when I studying for my Masters over the last 2 years I read hefty text books in 4 – 6 hours.

The pay off for my reading skill is that I get to steal ideas from the best minds on the planet and rework those ideas into my own.

Skill #2: I Can Write

Being able to write is my second skill. And when I say “write” I really mean “touch type”.

Thanks to a short course at High School when I was 15 I got my fingers on the “home keys” and they’ve been there ever since.

My current rate is 70wpm-80wpm which is pretty good.

The pay off for my typing skill is that I can communicate fast: writing emails, writing blog articles, writing reports, and sometimes, writing code.

Writing is a communication tool that is one of the core parts of my business and life, and I get to make money from it.

Sidenote: I pity school kids these days on iPads. You can’t learn to touch type on one of those things (and Siri taking your dictation won’t be that helpful)

Skill #3: I Can Listen

Being able to listen is my third skill.

If you an I talk on the phone or in person you might notice that I take the following rule (written by Epictetus, a Greek philosopher 2000 years ago) pretty seriously:

“God gave you 2 ears and 1 mouth so you can listen twice as much as you talk”

The pay off is that people think that I think that they are awesome and worth listening to. We all love being listened to because it makes us feel important.

If you make someone feel important by listening carefully to what they have to say, what is their impression of you? They think you are awesome too, and when you finally open your mouth to speak they really pay attention!

Skill #4: I Can Ask Questions

Being able to ask questions is my fourth and final skill.

If you an I talk on the phone or in person you might notice that I ask a lot of questions.

My son is almost three and he is in “why?” mode. If you’ve got kids, or if you’re around kids that will sound familiar to you.

Kids ask endless questions because they are curious and fascinated by the world and want to know how it all works.

I ask my clients lots of questions because I want to know how their business works and it’s my way of prompting them to think about things in a different way because that’s where new ideas come from.

The pay off is that the more work I do up front at the asking-questions stage, the better result I can deliver.

Einstein said it best: “If I had an hour to solve a problem and my life depended on the answer, I would spend the first 55 minutes figuring out the proper questions to ask. For if I knew the proper questions, I could solve the problem in less than 5 minutes.”

Sidenote: Asking questions is the key to dating if you didn’t know already 😉

So What?

The point I want to make is that I have created a successful business out of having just 4 simple skills.

The challenge for you is to imagine the pay off you might get if you were better at each of those 4 skills and then start working on them.

What skills do you have? Are they different from my list? Say so in the comments below.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Diane Emerson March 29, 2012 at 10:20 am

Thanks for your post, Sheltron. I think a lot about the skills I have and can offer, because I wonder what I will be offer to people in the future when we are in economic collapse mode. I have been a nomadic volunteer for the past 5 years, so once the money disappears, I don’t really have much to trade for my food and a place to pitch my tent. Or do I? When I think of the basic skills I have, which could be useful to people, I realize I can pull weeds with the best of them, can grow and propagate plants for others (I just obtained my Permaculture Design Certificate and took an additional class on grafting). I am teaching compassionate communication, and getting better at it every week. That will surely help when people are panicked and stressed out and at each other’s throats. A good skill to have and develop further, for sure. I am also good at organizing and cleaning things: offices, kitchens, bathrooms, back yards, garages, basements, sheds, etc. Sometimes this skill is very useful for others. Bringing order to chaos. I can do that. And yet I am comfortable in chaos, and can allow it to be if the timing isn’t right for me to bring order to it.
I also know how to live well frugally. That’s a pretty good skill to have, and I am developing it further by investing in the Surthrive series. I plan on learning how to dumpster dive this summer too, and become comfortable doing this, and I should also add hitchhiking to develop this skill further.
So thank you, Sheltron, for bringing up this discussion thread, and helping me clarify in my own mind the skills I have, what I can develop further, and what I can share in the future, when the skills which have been valuable in the past may not be what we need to get us by.

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sheltron March 29, 2012 at 11:34 am

Wow, that’s great Diane, glad I could help.

Dumpster diving sounds fun. It should be a crime some of the stuff that businesses throw away.

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Naoma March 30, 2012 at 12:03 am

HELLO from Naoma:

My skills are thus:

1. I am a self-taught speed reader. Do not know my speed, but I see large “chunks” of typing or writing at one look. Comprehension is very good. Never took any courses.

2. I am a speed typist. Learned in school. I could type about 135 words per minute — in tests. Still type up a storm. I learned on a blank
keyboard and do not look at it. However, I don’t do “numbers” that well. Just words.

3. I also have “listening skill.” One of my favorite things to tell a woman who wants to have a man find her “fascinating” is this: (I give this
information freely.) When you are with a man ask him as many questions as possible.. Learn all you can about him and say NOTHING about
yourself. This is a sure winner. When he leaves you and the conversation he will think “What a fascinating woman.” But, he will know
nothing about you. I’ve used this a lot and pass it on. Men love to talk. I love to listen.

4. I an ask questions also. Our daughter (now grown up) asked all kinds of questions when about age 3. We never ever did not tell her THE TRUTH.
I know some people think this is awful when you hear the rest. She knew all the correct names of the body parts and reproduction at age
3. BUT. She was not allowed to discuss these topics with her friends — only adults (AND SHE DID). A little friend was outside on the porch
swing with her and the child said: “My Mommy is having a baby and it is in her tummy.” Next thing our daughter is storming through the
door and saying in her most exasperated tone: “SHE KNOWS NOTHING OF THE WOMB.” (that is a favorite story of mine). Also, she
asked us at about the same age: “Are Mothers and Dads Santa Claus?” We said “Yes.” (but, again a family topic only) She accepted
it. It seems that if she asked to do something and it was harmless, we consented. For instance, She wanted to “sleep in the nude.” OK.
Also wanted to be called “Brandy” — OK again — her name was April but Brandy lasted for a while.

5. Hope these kid tales do not bore you. But she was forbidden to WALK ACROSS THE STREET TO THE OTHER SIDE. One day I looked out
and there she was on the other side. I immediately went over and said: “April, you were told not to walk across the street. Explain.”
She said: “They carried me.” Yes, her friends carried her over.

6. She was also allowed to say ANY WORD in the house (swear, etc.) but never outside. Kids would knock on the door and ask if it
was true. Yes, it was.

7. Hope this one is not offensive to you: She was raised in love without any spanking, slapping, or hitting. But, without any religion. Once
I took her to an “Easter pageant” where they were to have a camel on stage and a peacock (at a church). When they brought out the
man on the cross she said: “Why is that man up on a BIG ‘T’? This is barbaric.” I had to rush her out of there before we were thrown out.

8. A joy and a delight, she was a baby model, made a lot of her own money, grew up and got a scholarship and also attended Oxford.

Hope you are not too bored. I have thought of putting these “child utterances” into a comedy routine. Still working on it.

Oh, yes I can speak in public without any problem. Once a dear friend died and at the end of the memorial service they asked it anyone would like
to say something about her. I put up my hand. My husband slid down in his seat — he was “terrified” I’d say something about her “love life.” She
had 5 husbands, 5 kids and lovers more than could be counted. I got up and told how she found 3 fine doctors for me to interview when I needed eye surgery (by going to her boss, a malpractice attorney, and getting the names of doctors who were never sued.) I interviewed all 3 and picked one. Also, I said that she and I played SCRABBLE every day and I won twice. (not much of a winner, eh?) Found out she was a SCRABBLE CHAMPION — at the service.

Well, I do go on and will stop. Just a little about me,

Naoma

P.S. I like to write and have won contests and once even a $1,000 prize for a “love story.”
It was a funny one and the contest liked it.

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