Ways to Distinguish Yourself #209 – Increase granularity of your portable skills

Request: Please bear with me on the complex looking title for this blog post. That is the closest I could get to explain what I want to explain.

Any job you take, there are two kinds of skills that you will work with

1. Core Skills – that help you with your core job. If you are in software, than that would be programming, design, testing etc.

2. Portable Skills – you might also call them supporting skills. “Support” here is sort of “over-loaded” meaning they are supporting you to help you get your job done and they are also supporting you to grow. These skills usually go the background. Examples of them are communicating well, working with teams, leadership, conflict resolution etc.

If you lack in core skills, you will suffer in the short-term.

If you lack in portable skills, you will suffer in the long-term.

If you lack in core skills, others will notice you immediately and it hurts.

If you lack in portable skills, you will not STAND OUT of the crowd. It sill hurts but in the short-term.

Rarely does your employer spends time, energy and effort to get you better at your portable skills. They want you to perform well in your core skills but they expect that you to develop your portable skills on your own. A small percentage of them will develop them anyway and they start growing in their careers and the others fade away. So there is no “extra effort” required by employers to do something special for employees. Statistically, things just work out fine for employers.

However, it is YOU who have to take care of yourself as it is your life.

Here is one way to take care of yourself – increase granularity of your portable skills.

Granularity is the relative size, scale, level of detail, or depth of penetration that characterizes an object or activity. If you don’t focus, your portable skills are typically less granular than your core skills simply because anything short-term takes over anything long-term. You have to force yourself to increase the granularity. How do you do it? By giving equal importance to your core skills and portable skills development. It seems easy but it’s not. Since there is no external pressure to improve your portable skills (your employer wants you to deliver flawlessly with your core skills and they expect you to have “enough” portable skills to support this) it is only YOU that can take some solid action.

There is enough material online and offline to take you to the next level on your portable skills. What is lacking is awareness to make this important in your life, motivation to do something about it, action (actually doing something about it) and sustenance (to continue to keep at it)


Note 1: Here is a Squidoo lens that links to most of the previous articles in this series:
Squidoo: Distinguish Yourself

Note 2: The first 25 entries in the series have been packaged in a ChangeThis manifesto that was published on September 07, 2005. You can download that manifesto here:
ChangeThis Manifesto: 25 Ways to Distinguish Yourself (PDF, Free)

Note 3: My latest manifesto on ChangeThis was published on August 6, 2008. This is a photographic manifesto featuring 15 of my mini sagas (stories in exactly 50 words). Here is the link:
ChangeThis Manifesto: Mini Sagas – Bite Sized Lessons for Life and Business (PDF, Free)