Learning a new skill is compelling. Many people want to learn new skills, and many of them tend to jump towards the more advanced skills like coding or invasive technology early in their carrier in the case of medicine.
Well, that’s fine to be ambitious and grow your skillset. As Scott Adams stated in his book, skills add on to become more valuable than each one separately.
This leaves some basic skills overlooked and ignored by many. Those who try to go their skillset may go for the most lucrative to increase their income, but earning money is not necessarily the best reason to learn.
You see, there are some basic skills that you will need to be good at. In the long run, these skills might be more valuable than others.
And, you should think about them as an investment. You invest in learning without seeing too many results, but in the long run, they will compound over.
Why We Ignore Basic Skills?
Well, there are reasons why people tend to ignore basic skills.
I will give an example from medicine.
One of the desired skills in internal medicine is invasive procedures, such as central venous catheter insertion.
This skill needs some practice and usually is performed by people who have some months to years of experience. Novices are willing to insert their central venous catheter even before they master the more fundamental skill: Peripheral venous catheter.
Why? Because the central catheter is more lucrative, hard to master, and usually means you are more skilled and experienced. In short, it’s more compelling. It’s a desired short-term goal.
The same principle applies to other skills, which lead to neglected and overlooked opportunities in other areas.
With this in mind, here are my suggestions for skills you should be good at before investing in others.
It will save you a lot of time, make typing easy, enable you to write, summarise and take notes fast, and it might impress your colleagues and boss.
After years in medicine, where you need to work fast and under pressure, I wonder why many medical staff members and those in other professions who use the computer daily don’t learn touch typing.
Learn to Use Excel
It’s more desirable to become a programmer or developer, and you will earn more money and get a highly paid job. Excel is usually overlooked on the contrary.
But the problem is that excel is so essential in many areas: research, business, customer management, collecting data, financial management, etc.
I have a friend who continuously upgraded his job by being very good at excel.
While you want the top hi-tech skills, maybe it’s better to be very good at excel first.
Learn to Prepare Presentations
Do you know what the recommended time for a presentation is?
No more than 18 minutes, and that’s why TED talks are usually limited to this time.
Which background should you use when presenting? Words vs. images?
All these questions are fundamental and usually easy to answer, but the skill of preparing a presentation is generally overlooked. I have seen many excellent doctors who prepare a terrible presentation; they don’t know anything about design, highlighting a text, or the bad habit of stuffing words into one slide.
Well, a well-prepared presentation (Not necessarily an amazing one) can make a lot of difference. And once you have learned it, there is no need to change your expression template. Just keep with the winner one.
In any given interaction, most people want to talk. And they talk about themselves, their experience, their position.
Listening, on the contrary, is overlooked. Listening, observing, and being in silence until you have something valuable and helpful to say is a skill you can build.
Learn to be silent until you have something really good to say. It will get you more respect, value, and admiration than you think and make you say good things. Simple, but usually overlooked.
In meetings, try to listen first, then talk.
How do you check facts and information in life?
I will tell you how you should do it. It’s not your opinion or your friend’s experience. You should be able to read scientific research and understand the concept.
Want to take a new food supplement? Why not check the research about it. Read articles—the same for COVID-19 vaccines, study techniques to avoid, etc. Want to know if cold showers are good for your health?
Research is not just scientific evidence; it can be books you read, experiments in real life you do and see the results, or other experiences.
My point is:
- Learn to search for evidence of any kind from several resources.
- Take notes and document them, and then try to get an answer to your questions.
- Get the habit of reading and understanding scientific research, even outside of your area of expertise.
Writing is an overlooked skill.
The positive sides of writing are enormous: a tool for thinking, documentation, reaching out and communication, developing adjacent skills, language improvement, and more.
You can’t lose anything from writing.
Many people have lost this habit and write only on social media, text messages, or need to. Want to write without limits? Open your blog!
Writing Good Emails
Emails, of course, are one form of writing.
You will see many nasty disorganized emails in your workplace or friends. Without a clear subject line, organization, or clear point.
Writing good emails (again, not amazing ones) means organizing them, highlighting your main point, and expressing what you think; it is an excellent tool for communication, sales, and getting what you want.
Yes, you are right! Most of us are not sales or marketing people. And, I agree, it shouldn’t be if you are away from this career.
But copywriting will change how you write, even for friends, family, work, etc.
It will make your documents easier to read, more attractive, and informative.
Just try reading the Boron Letters and learn more about copywriting.
Being accountable and able to do everything you committed to is a great skill, and this is one of the pitfalls in medicine. If you cannot do what you have committed to for a patient or your department, you are more likely to get future projects or work opportunities. In the long run, it will harm you.
Of course, part of this skill is to be organized, productive, honest, and love what you do. But don’t say “yes” if you can’t handle it. Don’t fool yourself, after all.
Basic Math and Accounting
This essential skill can make a huge difference and put you ahead of many others.
Adding, subtracting, multiplying, and understanding percentages are usually overlooked. Play with numbers, and you will find that this skill can transform your work from complex to easy one.
I admit that I need to be better at this skill.
Learn a New Software
In the era of technology and rapid changes, new software can come to your computer or smartphone.
Doctors, programmers, engineers, and other professionals, face technical and software interfaces in their work daily. If you don’t know how to learn new software, you will struggle and avoid doing some work.
Probably some other necessary basic skills are specific to each profession.
Anyway, my point from this article is to develop your skillset without ignoring the basic ones.
Now, the action I want you to take is to learn just one overlooked skill and see if it changes anything. I have just learned some are copywriting recently.