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Monday, October 14, 2013

Develop your basket of abilities

Cross roads image copyrighted by Martin Lieberman.See the source (C) by 
In career intelligence, it is important to know your basket of abilities. Here is a brief summary of how to develop this basket

1. Make a plan to develop your primary ability

See the list of 8 abilities here. While graduating, an engineer, doctor and commerce graduate are nurturing one key ability - logical reasoning ability - in learning their subjects. It is an ability to think logically, solve problems, find new solutions, and think both inductively and deductively. Your development path must chart out the ways by which you will grow this ability.

One of the simplest way to sharpen this ability is by solving real-world problems ( this is like selecting a domain to use your abilities), not book problems. For instance, a medical student works in a hospital to solve his patient's problems. For a medical student, this is part of his course. For a commerce student, this is not automatic. He must develop a plan to sharpen his reasoning ability by, say, understanding the functioning of stock market, or the functioning of tax system. An engineer may have to work in a small factory or work on a project of say, making a gear system.

A graduate can also nurture her verbal-linguistic ability. Many students have natural ability to express their thoughts. They should utilise the opportunities offered by the college, such as by participating in debates and seminars. If the college is not offering an opportunity, they should attend a course on dramatics to use the finer distinctions of communication. Please use some of these ideas that have been mentioned here.

2. Make a plan to develop your 3 basic character traits 

Your character trait of self-regulation is the key trait that will help you in excelling in your future life. If you have limited 'abilities', this trait enables you to fully utilise those abilities. And if you have above-average abilities, self regulation will enable you to maximise its benefits. It requires understanding of the dual processes of mind, the games the mind plays by using beliefs and mindsets, and therefore helps you identify the bottlenecks in achieving your personal goals.

Although this knowledge of the working of mind is important, one cannot learn this trait directly. One has to learn it indirectly, say by engaging with some activity, like a project. Even if you are engaged in playing a sport, actively playing that sport helps you develop self-regulation. See one example of developing this trait by learning a musical instrument, Tabla. 

Emotional stability, the second important character trait, is also the right trait to develop during this age ( 16-22). In this age, every graduate is growing through the moody swings of adolescence caused by hormones. If you do not use emotions, emotions will use you.

Third important trait, creativity, can be fully developed in creative situations like setting a drama, or working on a project. Another indirect way to develop these character traits is to work for a NGO.

3. Make a plan to develop Conative traits 

Conative traits sustain your motivation and help you generate initiatives and positive attitude towards life. When a student comes from a poor family, that itself is a motivation enough to study and work hard. But this same student, when his money problems are resolved in his later life ( say at the age of 35), cannot find any motivation because he has not developed his conative traits. One cannot start developing this trait at a later age of 35. It is like learning to swim at the later age. Technically it is possible to learn, but the time and willpower required is so high, that very few learn this trait at a later age. Professionals have to take drastic decisions to develop this trait, such as taking a one-year sabbatical from their work life and going to Himalayas.

At this age, it is therefore necessary to indulge in simple mechanisms that help you explore your conative traits: the field of drama making, the reading of literature, the discussion of novels and so on.  For some of the ideas read this.

When a student comes from a well-to-do family, he/she finds it difficult to get motivated even in college. For such a student, development of conative traits is urgent.