1. Soft Skills
As much as I say that I am unsocial, it's my soft skills that get me most of the projects I get. Surprised that I have soft skills?
The truth is if you write out all the soft skills required for corporate success, I have them all except one -- delegation. I am a great team player; I listen and empathise a lot which makes people tell me more than they should; I have good selling skills (that's how I get so much work) and I can read people (learned that from books & practice for over 10 years). I also have good communications skills; it is pointless chit-chat I suck at. In all the places I have worked I have always had a smooth and friendly relationship with my colleagues and boss. Sometimes, I am everyone's favourite. And it's because I always make them feel better and get better. Every training I hold, the feedback at the end from participants always include, "Michael made it fun and easy to understand all the complex things in Excel and he used a lot of memorable funny stories too."
No matter your chosen career or path in life, you will need soft skills. They are the like the engine oil that prevents you from wearing out and always at friction with others.
2. Hard Skills
If you want to be a person of value, then you need a hard skill. If you are tearing the scales on the soft skills meter but have no obvious hard skill, you are just going to be a fun person to waste time with and not someone to get work done with.
It is hard skills that open opportunities. And in this present hypercompetitive and fast paced world, you need to have one outstanding hard skill. Be extremely good at something that requires hard learning. And don't confuse exposure with expertise. Reading and taking certification courses will not make you an expert, they will only expose you to that field and make you look better than someone with no certification. But if you want a genuine advantage and be able to get top dollar for your skill, then you must practice, practice and practice with real life/business scenarios. Expertise comes with experience and lots of learning from mistakes rather than just learning from books/instructors. So you should consider volunteering in order to get on the expert path for any hard skill you genuinely seek to acquire.
I have chosen Excel and I am able to charge as high as a million naira for an Excel job because I know it to an expert level. Not everybody will need my service but those who do have very few options and most times, I am their best option. That is why you should have a hard skill that you want to build an extreme expertise in.
3. Ability To See The Big Picture
If you want to attempt great things and set yourself up for great opportunities, you need to do a lot of things that won't pay off in the beginning. You will need to make a lot of sacrifice. You might even need to incur losses upon losses and still put your entire mind into what is incurring the loss. And this is only possible if you have a big picture in mind. Something big that you are working towards.
The ability to see the big picture is what sets aside the great people from the good people. I mean it is what will take you from good to great.
4. A Signature Trait
Steve Jobs was known to be eccentric and creative. Bill Gates is known to be obsessed with IQ and programming. Donald Trump is known for being rash and ambitious.
You need to have your own signature trait. Companies have them too, and it's for a reason. Life is hard, you can't be every good thing to everyone. You need to pick what you what to be known for and worry less about the rest.