In engineering schools they teach you that output is related to inputs and the process used to convert the inputs. Same story in business schools. Not so much in high schools although I recall a history teacher that was adamant about this idea. “Those who fail to learn history are doomed to repeat it.” Marks are connected to effort.
In life it is harder to know what the important skills may be.
First we must establish a measurement. How good is the outcome in context of the resources seems a good one. As good as possible in the circumstances. Not equal.
To expect equality is delusional. People do not start with the same resources so they cannot all achieve better than average results. That is how averages work.
Some are smarter, some are stronger, some have more endurance, some are more practical, some better understand how they fit in, some are more creative. No one is the best on every scale and no one is worst either.
What will be the resources required to achieve as good as possible? Think about it.
- Money? It doesn’t hurt, but it is usually not a disabling obstacle. Absence means things take a little longer. How much did Mark Zuckerberg founder of Facebook fame, or Sergey Brin or Larry Page of Google begin with. Not much.
- Technical skill. Some is needed, but very few of the builders hold advanced degrees in anything. Many never finished college.
- Social skills. Some but not many. Even Mother Teresa didn’t come across as warm and fuzzy.
- Focus. That seems a consistent one. Jack-of-all trades is uncommon among the successful.
- Persistence. Very big deal. Endurance and health will matter
- Creativity. Certainly some, but much of what the achievers did was built on old technologies or structures. Henry Ford’s assembly line was a better version of an 800-year -old precedent.
These skills are mostly ones you can learn or at least get better at using. What are the foundational skills that precede these?
Let me suggest five:
- Patience. You cannot be persistent or focused without patience.
- Discipline. You will not develop technical or social skills without working at them. You won’t have money except by depriving your present to benefit the future.
- Curiousity. Hard to be creative without it. Even harder to see the need to change some aspects of your other characteristics.
- Adaptability. The output to input ratio is uneven. Bad luck, poorly timed decisions, mistakes, competition that overwhelmed you, all happen. Hard to be patient or persistent unless you learn from mistakes and grow with them.
- Skeptical. Reduces the work load. Life is hard enough without wild goose chases to suck up energy and financial resources..
Help your young people to notice the foundational skills. Most things, once recognized, are acted upon. Most of what they reject is because they don’t have the experience to fit it into their lives.
Sometimes a more general idea of value works. Try it. Be organized and disciplined as you do it. Seek out better ways and avoid weak ideas. Change as you need to.
You get the idea.
Don Shaughnessy arranges life insurance for people who understand the value of a life insured estate. He can be reached at The Protectors Group, a large insurance, employee benefits, and investment agency in Peterborough, Ontario. In previous careers, he has been a partner in a large international public accounting firm, CEO of a software start-up, a partner in an energy management system importer, and briefly in the restaurant business.
Please be in touch if I can help you. firstname.lastname@example.org 866-285-7772