What are life skills, anyway? I like the definition from UNICEF: “Life skills are defined as psychosocial abilities for adaptive and positive behavior that enable individuals to deal effectively with the demands and challenges of everyday life.” These life skills include cognitive skills for analyzing and using information, personal skills for managing oneself as well as interpersonal skills for communicating and interacting effectively with others — all critical to your success as a leader and entrepreneur.
While our parents are typically the ones to teach us life skills, there are others out there who can provide lessons about life skills. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is one of these people whose public experience taught me about what it really means to achieve success. Here are seven life skills that I learned from him, and how you can apply them to your own career:
- Equanimity. This is a fancy way of saying that Zuckerberg doesn’t lose his cool when he’s under pressure or in a stressful situation. Instead, he calmly approaches even the most difficult situations because anger doesn’t breed success — it only serves to alienate or give the impression that someone feels they don’t have control over a situation. Developing this equanimity has helped improve my relationships with employees and colleagues while providing a way to think more clearly about the critical problem or pressures in front of me.
- Critical thinking. Zuckerberg has noted his interest in always going deeper with an issue or idea in order to really make a difference, be disruptive and maximize the value. As he once said, “I got my first computer in the 6th grade or so. As soon as I got it, I was interested in finding out how it worked and how the programs worked and then figuring out how to write programs at just deeper and deeper levels within the system.” I could see that success only comes from taking the time to think more critically rather than just accepting the first idea that comes to mind.
Cynthia Johnson is the Director or Brand Development at American Addiction Centers, previously Managing Partner at RankLab (acquired by AAC Holdings, Inc. 2015)
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