Are You An Innie Or An Outie?
Never Stop Learning
What skills are you most proud of? Is it your communication skills, your baking skills, your parenting skills, your negotiation skills? We all have different skills that make us amazing. What skills do you have that make you unique?
And, what are you doing to improve and grow them?
I love this quote by Albert Einstein.
Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.
We all have unique abilities and skills. Sometimes it is fun to acquire new skills, and sometimes it is important to grow the skills we have. Taking it one step further - are your best skills innies or outies? While I do love belly buttons, I am referring to inner skills and outer skills. (To be transparent, I was an innie before children and after my second child, I am now an outie. ;) Inner skills are things like kindness, tenacity, resilience, emotional intelligence, etc. Outer skills are things like driving skills, baking skills, flight skills, finance skills, design skills, etc. Let’s talk about them all.
Building Inner Skills
One of my greater inner skills is the ability to forget. The traumatic parts of my past are things I have completely forgotten. During the times in my first marriage when my then husband was yelling and swearing at me, I would sit at the top of the stairs, head in hands, sobbing. I learned to completely block this out. I later realized I needed to face that pain, deal with it and move on, but for a time in my life, that ability to forget served me well.
Self-awareness is a weak inner skill of mine that is currently receiving my attention. Self-awareness is identifying and being aware of your emotions, their triggers and their impact. I realized I needed to look at my emotions in many of my past situations, feel them, heal them and move on so they don’t keep triggering me. I’m a fan of Brené Brown and when she talks about emotions and self-awareness, she says, “You cannot be more connected to other people than you are to yourself.” We can build stronger connections, be better leaders, build trust in teams, do the right thing to people we serve and be better people when we understand what is driving our emotions. She states the best thing we can do for others is to be fully connected and know ourselves. Brené Brown’s YouTube video is worth a watch. Actually I listen to it on repeat! Brené Brown’s Life Advice on Emotions.
Kindness is a strong inner skill that is also receiving my attention. Like the fish that Albert Einstein mentioned shouldn’t be judged by tree climbing, I hope I will not be judged by self-awareness. Kindness is more my thing. I love to pick up litter on the side of the road, pull out weeds in commercial properties, give away baked goods, send notes, letters and care packages, and be the compliment giver. It’s an inner skill that I keep trying to improve. When we are good at something, we can go from good to great when we hone our skills. How do we become better? We can ask for input, and we can be more reflective and give it deep thought. I’m working on listening more and considering my language choices. I’m also practicing responses that more reflect who I want to be.
Another area I am working on is my storytelling skills. In marketing, telling stories is my job. I might do it in a few characters on Twitter or it might be 1,000 words on a blog. In my life, telling stories is a way to build connection and be understood. I’ve often found people are still waiting for the punch line when my story was complete, so looks like I have some work to do.
What inner skills do you want to grow and cultivate? Consider picking a weak skill and upgrading it. At the same time, consider picking an inner skill where you rock and work to become even better.
Building Outie Skills
In business, one of the most impactful things I have done to build my skills was to participate in the Business Journal’s Women’s Mentoring Monday event. It occurred in February in cities all over the country. In Milwaukee, we had over 200 women in attendance. During a few hours, I met so many incredible women who were willing to connect, refer and offer advice. I’ve actually been overwhelmed by how willing these women were to share their time and expertise. In one-on-one lunch meetings that followed that event, I was given great advice on my resume which landed me more interviews. I was taught the strategic deployment method to link marketing activities directly to business goals, and I learned new digital marketing strategies. In turn I offered web recommendations and connected individuals to other people where they could each offer something of value.
Sometimes outer skills are for enjoyment. Let’s not forget that life is meant to be enjoyed, and life is a balance, so spend some time building leisure skills too. Maybe taking a golf or tennis lesson will help hone your skills in that sport making it more fun to play. Maybe a photography class will make hiking or kayaking more enjoyable and sunsets more meaningful. Recently, a friend of mine started horseback riding lessons. What a great skill to have, and a side benefit of riding is that it improves posture. Posture is a great thing to improve, especially as a person ages. Two things on my skill list I wanted to learn are Krav Maga and how to fly a helicopter.
Most of the things I do in life are measured and gentle. I try to run efficiently with good form to expend the least amount of energy. I do yoga and meditate to be healthy. Krav Maga is an Israeli self-defense and fighting system that is not gentle or measured. Krav is an opportunity for me to let loose and punch, kick and hit. I hope I never have to use it, but I have become more comfortable giving a handstrike to the nose, knee to the groin and fist strike on the back of the head. My instructor keeps reminding me not to be so nice to my attackers, but, my “attackers” are classmates holding up a cushion, and I don’t want to accidentally hurt them. To be less nice however, I need to be more forceful, confident and quick. So I keep practicing those skills.
Another outer skill I wanted to learn was how to fly a helicopter. It has been a dream of mine ever since I was a child. I learned it is as hard as it seems. After the cook-out where I met other pilots and students and had three hours of classroom awareness training that made my brain hurt, we were up in the air flying in a little R22 helicopter cruising along the Lake Michigan shoreline. My instructor said I did quite well managing the pressure on the cyclic and the collective - (trying to impress you all here with my learned knowledge of some helicopter parts).
After that 30-minute flight, we hovered five feet above the ground to practice controlling various things individually. My instructor was probably the most concerned for his life when he had me working the foot pedals which control the tail rotor. As the name rotor implies, the tail rotor rotates the aircraft. Pressing lightly on the left pedal rotates you left and pressing right spins you right. The goal is to have a light balance and controlled rotation. Perhaps my fast right spinning has to do with how I drive a car - I press hard on the accelerator and light on the brake?! My instructor kept saying, more left, more left! It wasn’t too long before he took back the controls.
Learning to fly a helicopter is a great metaphor for learning how to balance life. A helicopter has the unique characteristic of being able to hover, which makes it unstable. To keep it stable and get where you want to go safely, you have to finesse the pressure and balance of the controls with your hands and feet. Life is much the same way. It requires balance and finesse with everything you have.
As you consider which skills you want to focus on this month to develop into Super Powers, consider another flying metaphor. If you have seen the movie Top Gun: Maverick, you may recall where Maverick (Tom Cruise) tells one of his students, “Don’t think. Just do it.” In much of my life, I would just act, without thinking. Like a bull in a china shop, I would charge ahead and just do it. It has served me well for the most part. For example, in college I never analyzed which two of the five essay topics to prepare for the exam. I just picked two, and they always turned out to be the right ones. I could provide numerous examples. So as it turns out, up to this point, I’ve been living my life with a fighter pilot mentality - don’t think, just do it. The only problem is . . . I am not a fighter pilot.
So instead of just charging ahead with your day and your life, I encourage you to openly take a look at your skills. Oren Klaff in the book, Pitch Anything, says that most people make decisions based on their gut. They then do the analysis to confirm their decision.
However you get to your decision of which skills to focus on this month, pick an innie and an outie and develop them into Super Powers.
Thank you for reading. We are thrilled you read this far!
Wishing you beauty and joy, kindness and compassion and great skill growth.
About Super Powers
We break the year down into 12 areas of balance. You will achieve greater growth and life balance by intently focusing on one area at a time. This month’s Super Powers focus is on improving skills. Next month is about spiritual life.
See the full year’s schedule.
Our goal with the Super Powers newsletter is to guide you with small, easy steps to improve many areas of your life. Over time these small changes add up to significant growth and improvement. You will be amazed at how far you have come when you look back at all your progress.
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