Success has a very broad definition, especially from
different groups of people. Yet, one thing is common: Everyone wants to be
successful in life and in the areas that we care about. Regardless of how you
define success, it requires skills.
If you want to be a
step closer to be successful, here is a list of 9 critical skills you need to
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According to research, delayed gratification is one of the most
effective personal traits among successful people. But what exactly is delayed
gratification? In non-geeky terms, delayed gratification is the ability to resist
the temptation of a short-term gain for a bigger reward at a later point in
The famous experiment that is synonymous with delayed
gratification is Stanford’s Marshmallow Experiment. In the experiment, the
researcher offers a child a marshmallow and places it on the table. The
researcher then leaves the room for a while. If the child is able to resist the
temptation of eating the marshmallow, he gets two when the researcher returns.
The children who were willing to delay gratification showed better progress in
life in a range of measures including education, health and social life when
they were tracked in follow up studies.
Now, let’s relate delayed gratification to your life and how
it can help you succeed. Imagine that you receive your paycheck today. Do you
choose to spend it all on impulse on retail therapy? Or do you squirrel away
your pay into a savings or investment account for gains in the future? It can
also mean putting away time to enjoy now and focus your effort on a long term
pursuit, e.g. pursuing a Master’s degree or a new technical skill.
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2. People skill
Societies are the result of people coming and living
together. So, regardless of where you go or what you do, you will always need
to deal with people. That’s why people skill is a very valuable asset that can help
you succeed in life.
If you are convincing another person to buy into your
business idea, your people skill lets you do that. If you are in a leadership
position, your people skill lets others endear themselves to you. If you meet
with a roadblock, your people skill helps you to unlock doors through tapping
on your relationship with people. With good people skill, it puts you in the
centre of every connection and helps you stand out in a group, community or
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Networking might your be your top choice of skill. Some
people dread its awkwardness while others dread that it drains both your time
and your mental capacity. Plus, who wants to make small talk with another
stranger when your calendar is packed with things to do? But here’s why
networking is important and how it can help you find success in life.
Humans are relational beings. Every one of us wants to feel connected
to each other. Networking creates an opportunity for you to kick-start a nurturing
long-term relationship with a stranger. You never know when you might meet with
a potential lifelong friend who will stick by you. From a career perspective, networking
helps you open doors to career development opportunities. When there is an
opening at a company, you can trust your friend whom you are in touch with to
give you a shot at the job. You might even skip a few rounds of interviews if your
networking skill is superb!
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Move over, public speaking. Storytelling is now the up and
coming skill that everyone needs to have to succeed in life. Whether it’s at
your workplace or with your friends, storytelling is a skill that will garner
you rave reviews everywhere you go.
Excellent storytelling skills allow you to make an emotional connection
with the other party. It lets you bring across your point with greater finesse
and keeps the attention of your audience. The human brain is wired to remember
information and messages if there is a story element attached to it. There is
even a scientific explanation to why storytelling is loved by every human
being. When we hear a story that resonates with us, oxytocin is produced in our
body. Oxytocin boosts intangible feelings like trust, compassion and empathy. At
the same time, oxytocin positively influences our social behaviour.
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5. Lateral thinking
It is not uncommon to hear that critical thinking is an important
skill to develop. But as the whole world focuses on critical thinking, critical
thinking is fast becoming a passé. If you are looking for the next big skill to
develop, it is lateral thinking.
Lateral thinking is a fancier word for the concept of ‘thinking
out of the box’. It is the mental process where you look at problems from fresh
and/or unique perspectives to find a solution. It helps you break away from traditional
modes of thinking and do away with established patterns and preconceived
notions. The term lateral thinking was first coined by Edward de Bono in his book
‘The Use of Lateral Thinking’.
If you want to master the art of lateral thinking, you can
adopt some of the lateral thinking learning techniques. Here are seven for you
to have fun with: Alternatives, focus, challenge, random entry, provocation
& movement, harvesting and treatment of ideas.
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Discipline is a skill that is known to the world. Yet, few
fully understand the true meaning of discipline, let alone master it. But for
the most successful people in the world, discipline is what differentiates them
from the masses. Successful people often live their life with great discipline
on a daily basis. Discipline lets you keep your focus on reaching your goals by
sticking to doing what is right. It is the bridge between setting goals and
There are two types of discipline you need to develop: internal
and external discipline. External discipline is the ability to adhere to societal
norms and established rules. Internal discipline (or self-discipline) is your
ability to restrain yourself and the ability to differentiate right from wrong.
While both are important, developing internal discipline is what leads to
success in life. For example, if you want to achieve financial independence
early, you need to be self-disciplined to put money into your savings even when
no one is there to enforce it.
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7. Adaptability to failure
Success is glamorous, but the path to success isn’t. Truth be
told, the path to success is filled with failures. There is even a Chinese saying
to epitomise failure’s part in success: “Failure is the mother of all successes”.
The saying highlights the intimate relationship between failure and success and
how failure begets success.
Failure is an important part of the lives of successful
people. They work their way towards success by fine-tuning their actions after
every failure. So, if you want to succeed in life, be prepared for failure. While
it is easy to speak of failure like this, the reality of failure hits harder
than words. It is already shown in research that failure can be painful.
Scientific experiments show that the brain reacts to failure as though we have
experienced physical pain. It is no wonder why there is a saying ‘failure
In order to survive the pain of failure, you need to develop
the skill of being adaptable to failure. Regardless of how many times you are
hit with failure, you need to remain calm and composed. You need to pick
yourself up, learn from your failure and reset your journey. In today’s day and
age where ‘failing fast’ is a norm, you need to strengthen your heart to be
adaptable to failure.
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8. Goal setting
If you don’t know where you are heading, it is likely that
you will lose your bearing. If you are lucky, you might make slight progress.
If you aren’t, you will end up moving in the opposite direction. At best, you
will be circling in the same spot for years. Thus, goal setting is an important
skill that you need to develop if you want to aim for success. It gives you a
target to aim for and work towards.
A key technique used in goal setting is the SMART acronym,
which stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound. Every
goal that you set should tick off each of these characteristics in order to design
a SMART goal to help you achieve success.
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9. Financial literacy
Financial literacy skills are hardly talked about in schools.
Our education system focuses more on the measurable like PSLE and GPA scores. But
many adults will admit that financial literacy skill is far more important in your
future than your GPA. Without adequate financial literacy skills, you are set to
make fundamental financial mistakes. In addition, you won’t have the knowledge
of how to spend, save and live modestly to enjoy financial freedom in the
While it might be a tad slow, it is never too late to start brushing
up on your financial literacy skills now. Check out some of the beginner
resources we have compiled to help anyone become financial literate.
- Insurance 101: Beginner’s Guide to Integrated Shield Plans
- Insurance 101: Beginner’s Guide to Understanding Term Life Insurance
- Insurance 101: All You Need To Know About Personal Accident Insurance
- Insurance 101: Your Beginner’s Guide To Investment-Linked Plans (ILPs)
- 6 Investment Options That Every Working Adult Should Know
- Saved S$100,000? 5 Investment Options to Make Your Money Grow in Singapore
- Beginner’s Guide: What Are Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) and Why Invest in
- Beginner’s Guide: How to Know What Are the Right Kinds of Investments for You
On Robo advisory:
- Robo-Advising 101: What Is It, Why Use It, Who It’s for, How to Start
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- Savings 101: SSBs, Fixed Deposits or Savings Accounts?
- Best Savings Accounts in Singapore
On Financial literacy for kids
- A Comprehensive Guide to Raising Financially Smart Children
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