You’ve got more skills than you realize.
We tend to think about skills on a surface level or in terms of our resume, but doing so leads us to miss countless ways to create value for ourselves or provide it to others.
It’s our “hidden” skills that create opportunities for a more fulfilling life and career.
Here’s a simple system you can use to uncover skills and opportunities you may have overlooked…
Start With One Existing Skill You Know You Have
For this system to work, you first need to pick a single skill you know you already have.
This can be something you do for a living or as a hobby, something you studied in school or people tell you you’re good at, or anything in which you have some competency.
Ideally, it’s a skill you’re passionate about or at least enjoy using, but it doesn’t have to be.
The skill you choose will be a compass for the hidden skills you’re about to unearth, so choose something likely to lead you down a path you’d want to go.
Identify Three Component Skills
The key to this exercise is a simple truth:
Every skill you have is a compilation of other skills.
This means when you identify a single existing skill you have as you did in step one, by definition you’ve also identified a series of related skills within it.
The number of these component skills may vary, but for the sake of this exercise just identify three of them.
For example, let’s say your main skill is you’re a good writer.
If you’re able to write well, you probably have the following related skills:
- The ability to generate ideas
- The ability to communicate
- The ability to capture and hold people’s attention
You’ve just gone from the one skill you know you have to discovering you actually have four distinct skills.
See how that works?
Now, Let’s Dig Deeper…
Now that you see how to deconstruct a skill to reveal additional skills, let’s repeat that exercise and go deeper.
Take each of your three component skills and deconstruct them to identify three more sub-component skills for each.
Follow this simple format:
If I have the ability to [Insert Component Skill], then I must also have the ability to [Insert Sub-Component Skill #1], [Insert Sub-Component Skill #2], and [Insert Sub-Component Skill #3].
Going back to our writer’s example, here’s what that might look like:
- If I have the ability to generate ideas, then I also have the ability to create things, solve problems, and innovate.
- If I have the ability to communicate, then I also have the ability to teach, lead, and influence.
- If I have the ability to capture people’s attention, then I also have the ability to market/promote things, build an audience, and succeed on social media.
Put Your Hidden Skills Into A List
It may be hard to believe, but you just identified 12 skills you’ve probably overlooked up to this point.
Jot them down in a single list. For our writer example, here’s what that might look like:
A Writer’s 12 Hidden Skills
- Generate ideas
- Capture and hold people’s attention
- Create things
- Solve problems
- Market/promote things
- Build an audience
- Succeed on social media
A quick note before we move on:
You’ll notice the list above is focused on skills and not jobs — that’s intentional.
It’s fine to list jobs/professions if you’d like, but the goal of the exercise is to separate what you’re able to do from the professions that may value those skills.
When you identify your underlying skills as opposed to just what you may see on your resume, it broadens your thinking about what you may be able to do in your career or work moving forward.
12 Opportunities: Who Wants To Learn Your Skills?
Now that you’ve got your skills list, let’s shift into identifying the opportunities it can unlock for you.
We’ll do this in two parts.
First, brainstorm a list of people or companies who might want to learn how to do what you do.
Go as deep as you want into this brainstorm, but come up with at least one type of person or company for each of your skills who would want to learn how to do that skill themselves.
This does a couple things for you:
It helps you identify who may be interested in knowledge you have to share/teach which can inform content you create down the road to serve various purposes.
And it helps you identify who may be willing to pay you to teach them how to do what you can do.
Both represent excellent opportunities, depending on your ultimate goals.
You can follow this simple format to put together your list:
“[Insert Type of Person/Company] would probably want to learn how to [Insert Skill].”
Here’s what a list might look like for our writer’s hidden skills:
- Other writers would probably want to learn how to generate ideas.
- Company CEOs would probably want to learn how to communicate.
- Advertising agencies would probably want to learn how to capture and hold people’s attention.
- Entrepreneurs would probably want to learn how to create things.
- Customer service reps would probably want to learn how to solve problems.
- Companies whose industries are being disrupted would probably want to learn how to innovate.
- Online course creators would probably want to learn how to teach.
- Sports coaches would probably want to learn how to lead.
- Public relations pros would probably want to learn how to influence.
- Small business owners would probably want to learn how to market/promote things.
- Creators would probably want to learn how to build an audience.
- Authors would probably want to learn how to succeed on social media.
12 More Opportunities: Who Might Pay For Your Skill?
This is an alternate version of the exercise you just did.
This time, instead of coming up with people or companies who may want to learn our skill, create a list of who may want to pay you to do it for them.
There may be some overlap in the lists, but people who want to learn how to do something themselves are often different from those who would hire you to do it for them.
For example, other writers may want to learn how to generate ideas, but it’s less likely they’d hire you to generate ideas for them.
An online course creator might want to learn how to teach, but isn’t going to hire you to teach for them.
On the flip side, authors might not only want you to teach them how to build an audience, but also might hire you to do it for them.
I’ll spare you a full list of examples for our writer scenario because I know this post is getting long and by now I’m sure you get the point.
One Question Remains…
If you went through this exercise you’ve now got a list of 12 skills you may not have realized you had before you read this post and a list of 24+ opportunities those skills can unlock.
The only question that remains is, which do you want to pursue?
I can’t answer that for you, but the good news is there’s no wrong answer!
Good luck and feel free to reach out to me on Twitter if you’ve got a question about any of this.