Today is November 1st.
Another month. Another stage of life.
As some of you may know, November 1st marks the day I start Praxis.
I have been planning for this for the past year and a half. It has felt like a long road, but now I’m ready to hit the ground running.
Praxis is all about building your personal brand.
And how are you going to brand yourself if you can’t showcase what it is you can provide to others?
So Praxis gives an exercise where you write a blog post about your Top 3 Skills. Piece of cake, right?
This exercise was harder than I thought it would be.
Have you ever sat down and actually tried to quantifiably say what it is that makes you great?
It’s harder than you think. And that’s exactly what makes it so valuable.
So without further ado, here are my top three skills.
Being a Fantastic Planner and Organizer
When I was twelve, I wanted to throw my mom a surprise party. I knew we would be at my aunt’s house for lunch that day, so I called her to organize it. I got her to set up the decorations, and called my cousin and my sister, who were also going to be there, and told them what to make, and sent them recipes. I made food myself, and made sure we got there on time. I also made sure that my dad didn’t find out, because if he had, the secret would’ve been out in a second.
The party was a success. My mom didn’t have a clue (and she is notoriously difficult to surprise; that’s where I get it from).
I make plans every day. I organize my life in such a way that I can do the most I can in the least amount of time possible. Every night, I think about the things I need to accomplish the next day, and write them down on a piece of paper. The next day, I approach this list in a methodical way, figuring how to best tackle things, how long each goal will take, what order they should be done in, etc.
For example, here is my list for today:
Text Erin — a friend of mine and I are hanging out tonight, so I texted her this morning to figure out the details of where we’re meeting, and what time.
Start Module 1 — This is Praxis time! So my goal today is to read over the module, and see how much of it I can accomplish today, and plan what else I will accomplish the rest of this week.
Make 2 lunches and 2 snacks — I work Friday and Saturday this week at my part-time job, so today I want to make food for that. This will probably take about an hour, so mentally I’m blocking out that time (it’s my next goal today).
Brainstorm budget — I’ve gone back and forth on how much I spend on my grocery budget, so I’m blocking out half an hour of time to rewrite it.
Read articles — I have multiple tabs open on my computer of articles recommended to me by fellow participants in Praxis that I plan to read today and get back to on.
Read The Last Safe Investment — this is a book I’m reading for Praxis. I’m about a third of the way through.
Meet daily goals — I have a separate list on my computer of things I want to accomplish every day, including reading, writing, taking at least one picture every day, and going for a daily walk.
These are just two examples of how I plan and organize. Both of these things are very important to me, and make a difference for my quality of life. I’m confident in saying I can plan for anything, and organize like a beast.
Skill #2: Having an Unquenchable Curiosity
That’s seriously my favorite question. And I ask a lot of questions.
I want to know why everything is the way it is.
This is one of the basic reasons why I’m obsessed with personality types. I’ve read the Myers Briggs type descriptions more times than I can count. I’ve typed every one of my family members with the Enneagram.
I want to know why people think the way they do, and what makes them tick. Why does this person react out of anger when you talk about a particular issue? Why does she like it when you help her with a task? Why does it frustrate him when people try to plan with him?
If you understand someone’s personality type, you can better interact with them. So I ask a lot of questions, and observe, so I can figure out how someone ticks.
Just because I want to know. I’m incredibly curious. I want to know why you are the way you are.
In middle school, I was obsessed with Greek mythology (that stuff is crazy fun to read about). I wanted to know what the Greeks believed, so I read D’Aulaire’s Book of Greek Myths. I read Percy Jackson and the Olympians at least five or six times (who cares if they’re not always exactly like the original myths? Those books are fun). I memorized all the 12 Olympians gods and goddesses, their powers, and their Roman counterparts. Mythology holds a very special place for me. That’s why my car is named Loki. And yes, I do call him that. A lot.
Another time, when I was around 11, I became obsessed with the sinking of the Titanic. Although I never saw the movie (I know, I know, I’m a filmmaker, so I need to see it; I get it), I researched the event. I read about where they set sail, where the ship sank and how, how many people died, and what happened to the survivors later.
My curiosity is never satisfied. I’m always finding new things to learn about, and I love to research anything that catches my fascination.
Skill #3: My Achievement Attitude
I have this obsession with getting stuff done. That’s why I have a list of things I want to do every day. That’s why I’m always asking the mental question, “What did I accomplish today?”
Whatever job I’m in, I want to do better than expected. In a task given to me, I want to work harder and faster than others around me.
In my second job where I worked in a restaurant kitchen, I got a raise twice the amount of the regular raise. It was because after I had been there for two months, a couple of the main kitchen managers left for a week long trip out of the country. They instilled me as a temporary two week manager, and I stepped up to the task. I worked every day during those two weeks and mobilized my fellow prep coworkers to achieve our list of tasks each day quickly. They were impressed. I had been given a task, and I took it because I had the attitude I could achieve it. I was right.
I make short films, and someday I want to make full length films. I don’t have the money or the resources to achieve that right now, and I can’t always make short films. So I am writing on my film story ideas every day to keep my creativity juices flowing, and taking pictures each day so I can practice lighting, working with inanimate objects and people around me. This is helping me reach my goal of getting stuff done. This is my way of not sitting idle. I may not be able to achieve the end goal yet (a film) but that doesn’t mean I can’t be working towards it constantly.
I love to travel. I plan every trip. I research where I’m going. And I save money. Right now, I’m planning to take a trip from the East Coast to the West Coast and back. I’m figuring out how much it will cost to get there, where I’m going, how long I will be in each area, etc. I will definitely be chronicling my journey on this blog when this road-trip happens.
The first step to getting something done:
working towards it with an attitude of “This is going to happen, so I’m working as hard as I can, doing what I can do right now, to achieve it.” Assume you can do something. Research when you’re confused. Ask for advice when you hit a wall. Get feedback when you finish.
And then there. You’ve achieved something.
That’s the achievement attitude.
And that’s the attitude I have.
I want to get stuff done. I want to achieve what’s expected of me, and then some.
Which is why I decided to include an honorary fourth skill.
Skill #4: Observation
I like to pay attention. I want to know how people work. I want to know why things run right, or don’t. I want to understand. When I am in a room, I can take a look around, feel the emotions in the people around me, and learn how to address it so the stress level can go down and we can accomplish what’s in front of us.
I want to understand the world around me. If I don’t understand something I see, I ask about it. I want to observe the details that show why things are the way they are. I research.
I didn’t understand sound boards when I was fifteen. But my youth pastor asked me to do it anyway. I didn’t flinch at the challenge. I watched him run it, and asked the occasional question. I had a friend later show me more of the board while I watched. I observed how the different sound levels were affected by how my friend adjusted the settings and volume. I observed what made each sound better, and what didn’t, and when I didn’t understand, I asked why things worked that way. I learned more about music from that than I have from almost anywhere else. It was an incredibly fun experience.
I wouldn’t have been able to learn half as much if I didn’t simply observe. And those observation skills served me well: I ran the sound board at my church for youth group twice a week for almost two years.
I believe observing what others do and how things work is the best way to understand the world around you.
I think my skill of observation pulls all three of my top skills together. You have to observe to be able to plan effectively and organize, especially when it’s organizing people.
If you’re not observing what’s happening, you’ll never be curious to learn more.
And you can’t achieve what’s in front of you if you’re not observing how the world actually works.
Observe today; you might be surprised what you’ll learn.
What are your top three skills?
If you’ve written a post about this, leave a link in the comments. Or simply comment below what you think your top skills are.
I’d love to read about what makes you guys awesome.