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The Quiet Skills

Today, someone in one of my classes took the time to tell me how cool it was that I could write in italics. It’s not something I’ve ever thought about as being a special skill, but it was very sweet of this person to notice.

It got me thinking about the culture we live in–a money and career-driven culture–in which the only skills that matter are the “concrete” skills you can put on a resume or neatly package in a cocktail-party soundbite: “I play piano”, “I can speak fluent Mandarin”, “I can design webpages”.

I think it’s a shame that these skills are often the only ones to which we pay our precious attention. Of course, having a “concrete” skill is admirable and useful. But the skills that fall by the wayside are often equally or even more important, and we should be taking time to reflect on our own special skill sets and nurturing even (and especially!) the skills that go unsung. Putting together a great outfit is a skill, making jokes is a skill, the ability to put people at ease is an enormously important skill. We should all take a moment to think about just how much we are all capable of, even if you are one of those maddening people who insist they have no “talent”–which is bull, by the way. Everyone is good at something (and I don’t mean that in the cutesy kindergarten sense), even if that something is driving your enemies crazy. Useful, in its own way.

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