Don’t confuse your skills with your personality

Recently I spent the day watching remarkable people give remarkable presentations at TEDx BrightonI always make time for events like this because I love exposing myself to new ideas, they make a huge difference to my life and business, and I always come away from them enlightened and full of inspiration. And this one was no different.

One of the talks I really enjoyed was one by Tom Ravenscroft who is the founder of Enabling Enterprise; an award-winning not-for-profit social enterprise focusing on the skills taught in early-stage education.

The organisation believes that schools aren’t equipping children with the skills they need in later life such as independent thought, leadership, resilience, goal setting and being able to manage their own time and workload – so they’re working with teachers to try and change that.

Anyhoo, one of the things Tom pointed out was that personality and skills are two entirely different things.

I mean, that kind of sounds really obvious when you think about it, but knowing the difference will not only change your business but the way you look at your entire life.

An example of this is when people assume that to get ahead in business or to lead a team you have to be an extrovert, whereas in actual fact introverts make incredibly good leaders.

When a person says someone is a ‘natural born leader’ (or a natural-born anything really) they’re actually describing a personality trait, not a skill set.

Tom explained that if you apply that same logic to numeracy and literacy, it makes no sense whatsoever. You’re not born knowing how to read and write so why would you naturally be good at other types of life skills? You wouldn’t – the only way you become good at something is to learn and then keep practising.

You’re born with a personality but skills are not innate. They are something you learn and build upon.

So when you look at it like that, there’s absolutely no reason whatsoever why you can’t learn, practise and be good at anything you want.


How wonderful is that?

I mean, some people may find some things easier than others because of their personalities (public speaking for example), but with a little time, effort and gumption, we can all do anything we set our minds to.

So for me personally, I find recording videos quite difficult. I’m a big fan of them because I can say more in a minute than I can type, but I find them really daunting and immediately forget what I want to say as soon as I hit record. I actually avoided using video until quite recently because of the sheer awfulness of seeing myself on camera.

I watch other people’s videos and I’m equally impressed, baffled and envious at how they come across so naturally and professional. But now I’ve spoken to a few of them at events, I’ve discovered that yes, while some of them are more comfortable in front of a camera than others, they’re simply much better than me because they’ve practised more than I have.

They wanted to be good at something so they practised until they were.

So even though I still want to cringe when I watch myself, I’ve pushed through it because it’s something I want to do – plus, I’m always telling you that wonderful things happen outside your comfort zone, so I need to take my own advice!

Everything I’ve achieved is the result of things I’ve learned and applied over many years and if you think about it, everything you’ve achieved has happened the very same way.

So whatever it is you want to achieve in your life, I can tell you hand on heart that if you put time and effort in, you can fly.

Got skills? Wanna use them?

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Jo O'Neil

I agree, keep going at new things and you will get better!

Though I am glad it’s not just me that hates doing video! I am doing them now though so hope I will get better! I doubt I will ever be comfortable seeing myself on camera though or hearing my own voice.

Damir Radovic

I absolutely agree! Hard and honest work will always prevail. Grind, grind, grind, rest (also important :)), grind again and great things will happen!


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