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What if you have common, ordinary skills?

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Here is a great question from a manager who heard a recent webinar:

"I possess a number of good but common skills – strategic thinking, analytics, financial know-how, effective writing skills, etc. I’ve also been engaged in an industry (banking) that I’d like to move away from, and have recently been laid off which is a catalyst for the process. How would you suggest I increase the value and differentiation of my skills (per your 2 X 2 matrix), especially as I attempt to transfer these fairly common skills to another industry? Your ‘Caught in the Middle’ group is a good description of my current situation. Any top of mind thoughts you have would be much appreciated."

My response:

I think the key to your question is in overcoming your limiting belief that the skills you have are common. They might be common or average, but they are unique in the way that you can use them and bring them together to help others solve problems and get value. You have to figure out how and communicate that. For instance, Dilbert creator Scott Adams just wrote a great weekend piece in the WSJ where he noted that he has a few common skills that he is average in: writing, cartooning, sense of humor, and (I can't recall, but he might have said) business knowledge. He combined these in a unique way to create Dilbert.

So you have to figure out the unique way you look at the world, your unique perspectives, and your unique value based on the combination of your combined skills and unique experience/results. For instance, what is your WOW (Walk on Water) story about one thing you've done, one result you've gotten, in your career that really stands out and makes people's jaws drop? And how will those combine to make a difference in the new industry?

Don't sell yourself short.


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