They're Not Soft Skills – They're Courage Skills

Depending on whom you ask, today's college graduates will change careers an average of 4-6 times during their lives. Note that I did not say "jobs."

Industries will rise and fall in months rather than years. That means the single most important skill for success in today's and tomorrow's professional landscape is the ability to change continuously.

In our career and engagement programs at Inspired Work, we've found that true personal change is often frightening to many professionals. That may be because it involves not only letting go of our previous beliefs, but also learning brand new sets of beliefs. The dance of unlearning, learning, and relearning is central to success in modern careers.

Thus far, we have assisted more than 42,000 people in defining what they were born to do and assessing how to do it best. This "how" is a matter of building up any life skills – or "soft skills," as they are called – you may be missing. That may sound daunting, but all that it takes to learn them is initiative and a small dose of courage.

Many of these skills are also the very ones people need in order to successfully manage change in their lives and careers. Personal transformation is often what a person needs to break out of the trance so familiar to the 87 percent of the world's workers who are not engaged at work.

Given how important change and transformation are to career success, why do we dismissively categorize the skills we need to manage these things as "soft" skills? The more I have spoken with professionals on the subject, the more I realize that "soft skills" scare people, partially because of their designation.

Wouldn't they become more attractive if we used the term "courage skills?" Not only would that be more a honest name, but also it would show people that these vital and necessary skills are aspirational, not beneath them.

And what courage skills does one need in order to succeed in these tumultuous times? Here are a few examples:

The ability to draw healthy attention to oneself.

The ability to give healthy attention to others.

The ability to build an effective and comprehensive support system.

The ability to sell one's ideas and concepts.

The ability to solicit others for help.

The ability to respond to fear in healthy ways.

It's time to build a stronger and more fulfilling future of work. Let's start by acquiring the skills we need.

David Harder is the founder of Inspired Work.