So the Donald Trump era has ended. Not with a bang or a whimper, but an angry snarl and a graceless "concession-without conceding" tweet. And if the President’s chief [ more » ]
The following text appears in A World Book of Values, featuring descriptions of 365 values edited by Patrick Somers and Kate Stephenson. It was published in 2015 and contains a foreward by Richard Barrett, whose values methodology it explores. The descriptions of “Life Skills” and “Congeniality” were penned by Richard House, architect and founder of Communicate Charisma.
As the image above suggests, we have a natural tendency to associate life skills with technical excellence, leadership – and strategies that will get us to the top. In fact, the most useful life skills can be of a more subtle nature and are art of the set of attributes we call charisma.
A glance around us will confirm that luck is neither equally nor randomly distributed in the world. Or rather, certain individuals are more consistently able to convert the lucky opportunities that life offers to all of us, into self-realisation and growth for themselves or others.
The difference lies not in having or not having luck, but in using life skills. The intuitive ability to make connections, to apply our store of knowledge, experience and values to particular circumstances, is what creates an evolutionary advantage that marks out successful people. Life skills cannot formally be described as a value in themselves, like continuous renewal or service, but serve as the enabler of these and other values. Having life skills is like holding an ever-present toolbag from which other values are constantly being plucked, to enrich each moment.
Anyone who has unexpectedly retrieved a stolen passport in a land where they cannot even speak the language; manifested an unexpected army of “hidden angels” to help them rescue a desperate situation; or found that by taking the role of conciliator or giver they receive even more in return, has successfully applied life skills.
Demonstrating life skills might also be described as having ‘character,’ and is not to be confused with having high levels of confidence or self-esteem. Sensitivity to our own and others needs; awareness of the cracks or openings that eventually appear in seemingly impenetrable situations; simply ‘taking a hunch’ on a stranger’s integrity.
Self-knowledge of the range or dimensions of our own personality and when to apply appropriate behaviours – from refractory to porous, from assertive to receptive – might help us define what having life skills really means.
Because life skills can be translated into French as “savoire faire,” people might assume they are something soave, or sophisticated. In fact being able to deliver a plain, blunt “no” to inappropriate invitations, is perhaps the greatest life skill of all.
So are life skills innate or learned? Is there a course or manual for acquiring such a desirable attribute? Just like language or walking, we all start out from the same zero baseline with life skills, and the learning process comes from enrolling in a course called ‘life.’ Continuous application through cycles of joy and pain, growth and loss, will equip us to choose and use the right value for every occasion. Classroom-based life-skills training will be just that. You can’t acquire life skills except through life.
As elusive as luck but just as precious, life skills are like the cement that holds together the bricks of our values and beliefs. Life skills help us find the diamond in the mine.
To learn more about Life Skills and how harnessing them for more effective communication plays an important role in Communicate Charisma’s methodology, follow this link.