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Five important skills to possess (and train) to succeed in almost anything

One of the most pressing questions millions around the world ask themselves everyday is “what does it take to succeed?” It would be almost impossible to distill ‘success’ into a few principles or skills because so many factors goes into whether one makes or breaks. There are, however, certainly some universal skills and traits that most successful people have. These are the same transferable skills used by successful entrepreneurs, mothers, teachers, students, etc.

#1. Public Speaking


One of the most crucial skills anyone can cultivate is public speaking. Ironically, ‘public speaking’ is not the kind of large-crowd-speaking you may imagine – speaking to 1 person in public can be construed as public speaking as well. Think presentations, sales pitches, promotional talks and even a conversation with your parents to convince them to loan you some money; all of these entail some form or shape of public speaking.

Being able to speak clearly and convincingly would translate to you being able to present your ideas more clearly, more persuasively and get more out of want to do. There are plenty of videos on how to speak confidently and powerfully. Spend some minutes every week watching Ted videos – there are tons of great examples of how to speak powerfully.

#2. Clear and concise writing


Closely linked to being able to speak clearly, sharply and persuasively is the ability to write clearly and concisely. In this digital and instant media age, it can be difficult to find someone who writes clearly (without spelling and grammatical errors) let alone write neatly and pithily. That, however, presents an opportunity for you – cultivate strong writing skills and you can stand out from the crowd.

Putting to pen your thoughts in a clear, straightforward and easy to understand manner is a skill that you can train and hone. Master your pen and you can open the doors to multiple opportunities.

#3. Time management


Being able to manage your time is a key trait in managing your life well. If you’re always disorganized and unsure what your schedule looks like – you would surely won’t be able to get a lot of things done nor would you give off the right impression to your peers, boss and potential collaborators. Making it a habit to manage your time well has clear benefits for your work and personal life as well and allows you to build organizational skills and self-discipline.

One idiot-proof, way is simple to schedule in your appointments at every opportunity (hint: use your smartphone). No appointment or ‘event’ is too small to pencil into your schedule. Also make it a point to look at your schedule at the beginning of every week. Look at how busy (or not) you are and also think about how many of these tasks or appointments are actually things that would help you achieve your goals.

#4. Research


Almost everything we do needs some sort of research. Want to create a start up? Well, you have got to do market research, competitor’s research, SWOT analyses, etc. Looking for new employment opportunities? Surely you have got to look into your potential employer’s business model, competitors and how you can best position yourself as a value-add to the organization.

More concretely this means being able to use the net effectively, read quickly (see this huff post article) and the ability to tap into your existing networks for their knowledge and insight.

#5. Imagination


This is probably one of the most important skill you already own that you should value and cultivate. Einstein famously said “Imagination is more important than knowledge.” Without imagination, there can be no technological and scientific breakthroughs. Without the sort of bold thinking and daring, our lives would be much impoverished. More practically, having a sense of imagination allows you to tackle problems and obstacles more effectively.

How can you train ‘imagination’ then? One effective method is simply to day dream. Spend 5-10 minutes a day taking a ‘napitation’ and just let your mind wander where it wants to go. Let it fantasize, construct and build amazing things in your mind. Day dreaming is a method that many successful people such as Salvador Dali, Einsten and Thomas Edison, use to great effect.

Cultivate these 5 success traits and opportunities will come knocking on your door sooner rather than later!

About the author


Dylan Loh

Dylan is an academic and political scientist. He has also written over 5 books on motivation, focus and personal development. He tweets at