List of the Most Essential and Powerful Core Skills and Qualities to Have
Last Updated on January 25, 2023 by Administrator
What are Core Skills and Qualities?
Core skills and qualities are the abilities and tendencies that are at the heart of all other abilities and tendencies. In other words, with these skills and qualities we develop other skills and qualities, and all other skills and qualities develop from or boil down to them.
Here, in this context, we are referring to mental, intellectual or innate skills and qualities and not physical skills and strengths.
These core skills and qualities have the greatest impact on one’s overall potential and quality as a person, and touch on all aspects of life from the smallest to the grandest, from classwork to international politics; breakdown any human potential or problem, and you’ll find at the heart of it, these skills and qualities, or the lack of them. A shortage of any of these skills in society, by extension, creates a major hindrance to development.
They can be grouped broadly into Personal and Interpersonal skills and qualities. Besides those groupings we may also identify some skills to be:
- Active in the sense they are more direct and manifest
- Catalytic in the sense that they are more facilitative in their category
- Helpful in the sense that they are helpful although less crucial in their category
We’ll highlight some of the various aspects of life and society these skills and qualities impact at the end of this article but first we examine them each.
Personal Skills and Qualities
These are skills and qualities one practices as an individual.
This is the ability to see things properly, to have a sense or appreciation for depth, straightness, curvature or angle, or for correctness, idealness, beauty or other qualities and definitions, or lack of thereof. Combined with logic it also means being able to see likeness, similarities, equality, difference, correlation, connection, harmony or balance between things. In other words it’s being able to look at things and make accurate deductions from them or to be observant.
Perceptiveness has the greatest impact on one’s overall intelligence and potential, affecting almost every other skill.
While perceptiveness may be largely innate, it may also be possible to develop it through visual arts such as drawing which helps train one to see details, cues, features and angles. These may further develop gradually into mental capabilities that enable one to have an accurate view or perspective on things.
Imagination is the ability to see something that isn’t already there or in front of one; to visualise or create an image based on hints, expectations, needs, ideas or other means.
Imagination is one of the most difficult skills for most people as they require an existing item, for reference at the very least, to visualize anything and are unable to “create their own images” as it were. This also makes imagination an invaluable skill, granting great power to anyone with it; it helps to stay ahead of others in terms of being able to visualise things before they manifest, or to stay original in one’s endeavours (which creates value for their outputs).
Although imagination is largely innate, it may also be helped by experiences. Therefore, whatever one’s level of imagination, it helps to read, watch, listen, explore and wonder more (through curiosity), to widen one’s imagination and inspire more of it.
Curiosity is the urge for information and understanding, and tendency to ask questions and wonder about things. Curiosity leads to investigation and discovery of knowledge which is core to science, development, justice and pretty much every facet of life and society. Basic questions like the ‘Why, What, How and When’ of anything, in that order, are also the very basis of logical reasoning and critical thinking.
Most, if not all children are born curious albeit with different levels of curiosity. The challenge is in nurturing and maintaining this curiosity well into adulthood where it matters most due to the various aspects of life and society it affects. Adults also face a challenge of asking the right questions, and seeking and accepting the right answers, owing to a lack of other skills and qualities such as attachment, honesty, resolve and others we examine subsequently.
Curiosity may be nurtured through teaching methods that cause pupils to wonder and ask questions and discover answers for themselves, games and puzzles and challenges, encouraging the already curious mind, and developing other skills and qualities that supress curiosity.
4. Logical Reasoning Skills
Logic is a set of conditions or facts which, connected or considered together, establish a truth or relationship between things. Basically it works like “if this is that then this must be that.” For example, if people can’t hold their breath for up to an hour, and it takes two (2) hours to swim to the bottom of a river, then no person can retrieve an item from the bottom of the river without aid. Logic essentially means reason, or an answer to the question “why?” which underpins any sensible endeavour.
Logical reasoning is therefore thinking guided by facts, the connections between them and the “why’s,” which, interestingly, is incredibly scarce to come by in most people and arguments.
Most people act on hunches, permitted emotions, prejudice or deliberate choice of belief, often in the face of clearer reason or logic. This, while permissible in some instances on a personal level, creates problems in the social context. Lack of or poor reasoning or logic results in confusion, bias or failures in interactions and endeavours, from small private matters to that of national development. Without logic we would also not be able to build any reliable body of knowledge in science, humanities or anywhere, nor solve any problems reliably. Logic should only be defeated by superior logic, i.e. by the introduction of new information or conditions that alter an initial conclusion.
Logical reasoning can be encouraged in children through exercises that require the use of logic, impressing on them the “whys” of anything they do or say, and generally through systems in society that highlight and encourage logical reasoning in people, for e.g. appreciating logical debates, instituting logical reward and penal systems for deeds, etc.
5. Organisation Skills
Good organisation skills means being inclined to and able to cleanly arrange items in an environment, to be orderly, harmonious and well-reasoned, improving the accessibility, clarity, effectiveness and efficiency of the environment itself. When you organise things properly, they serve their purpose better. Good organisation skills, while seemingly unimportant, also has one of the greatest impacts on other potentials and several facets of life. This is because it affects one’s mental capabilities as well, in terms of how they organise their thoughts and actions. Organised people are capable of managing problems, no matter how big and complex, excel in their professions or as business managers or planners (from events to national development). Being disorganised however creates significant problems for any individual and their surroundings, or society if practiced at a high level.
Good organisation skills is easy to develop but requires practice over a long time to yield maximum benefits. It can be encouraged, from childhood, by instilling simple habits like that of keeping items in their right places all the time, and putting things together in ways that always make sense in terms of colour and aesthetics, functionality, ease of access, etc. These graduate into an inclination for organised thoughts and actions as well. One may also institute exercises and systems that reward good organisation skills.
Learn more about The Power of Organisation as a Core Skill and Habit
6. Hard Work and Perseverance
Hard work means to put ones maximum effort into something, and perseverance means to continue one’s course of action against all odds and in spite of exhaustion. Hard work and perseverance, together, are so important because consistency, with good effort, is required for, and most certainly ALWAYS leads to great success, all things equal. This is assuming one is on the right path. Working hard in the wrong direction leads to regret. On the right path however, hard work and perseverance, like any physical exercise, builds mental or physical strength, experience, and intuition or muscle memory, which can lead to magical results (from piano skills to business, scientific or other excellence). It’s like they say, practice makes perfect. Growth sometimes happens without one even noticing it, yet yields results eventually.
Hard work can be encouraged by helping people understand that it is okay, actually “fun,” to work hard; and that the difficulty of any challenge is its own reward to be embraced, much like the enjoyment and satisfaction one gets from completing a difficult game or exercise, knowing what it means for their strength and capabilities.
Honesty is the tendency to acknowledge what is true or deserved, acting in good faith, without malice, deceit, manipulation or hidden motive. It goes beyond truthfulness. For e.g., if someone left a door open for sheep to consume their friend’s food, and the friend asked them later “did you throw my food away?” If they answered “No” they would have been truthful yet dishonest with their friend. Interestingly, people can be dishonest with themselves as much as with other people.
One may able to see needs or problems, but without honesty they will not acknowledge or accept them, even within themselves. That effectively kills any hope of further personal or general development. This is why honesty (with oneself) is pivotal or catalytic to the development of all other skills. Assuming one did not poses any of the crucial skills and qualities examined, one would also not be able to acknowledge it to begin with, even if they could see it, without honesty with themselves. Lack of honesty with oneself is therefore the biggest stumbling block to personal development.
Human interactions and endeavours all fall into jeopardy if people cannot rely on each other to be honest. Honesty is invaluable in personal as well as business or international relations. Honesty is often termed “the best policy” because dishonesty is costly to maintain and can lead to catastrophic failures in the long run, whereas honesty often takes little effort to practice, as it is relieving and requires no work to fabricate, nor maintain false realities.
Honesty can be encouraged by helping people understand its importance, costs and benefits, and the reasons they need not be dishonest. Society eschewing or reducing influences for dishonesty such as fear and shame also help. For e.g., by being more forgiving of honest mistakes and less judgemental of others, while negative influences for dishonesty such as disrespect, fraud remain punishable. Rewards for honesty although helpful are dangerous because honesty should not be built on the expectation of direct rewards but an understanding of its importance.
8. Desire for Improvement
While this point is self-explanatory, believe it or not, not everyone likes improvement. Some people get quite comfortable wherever they find themselves and accept inadequacies as “nature, fate, or their life” or other ideas that excuse them from the responsibility of change.
Following from the above point under honesty for example, one may see problems, one may even accept them but without an innate desire for improvement, such skills, opportunities for growth and relevant potentials would be lost or abandoned.
Having an innate and constant desire for improvement is therefore a great skill to have, one that is catalytic to all other skills and potentials, on a personal or societal level. Coupled with other skills, it leads to industry, entrepreneurship, discovery in the science and development in general.
The desire for improvement can be encouraged by triggering healthy competition, and by inspiring people to see themselves in others like them, who have harnessed their potential to do great things.
9. Strength of Conscience, Will or Resolve
This is the tendency and strength do what is necessary. To do this, one’s conscience must be steadfast so as not to sway one in another direction or give up what they know needs to be done. Many detrimental traits like laziness, fear, peer pressure and the plain refusal to think, as many entertain, stem from a lack of will, or weakness of the mind.
Still continuing from the examples above, one may see a need or problem, one may accept it, one may even want to change it, but with a weak conscience or will one easily drops it. That’s why this quality is also most crucial and catalytic to other skills.
People with the greatest will achieve the greatest accomplishments. This is because many times it is not the knowledge of what to do or not that separates people, but the will to do. Strong will practiced over time creates stronger gap between people in terms of their current achievements, capabilities and potential. It is therefore important to develop early a strong will so as to make the necessary decisions and investments that yield results in time.
Strong will can be developed through encouragement (in any activity that requires it) and helping people understand its importance and how it works. Once one achieves something great through strong will in one activity they are more likely, although unfortunately not guaranteed, to apply it in another activity.
10. Control over Emotion
Excitement or overwhelming emotion easily clouds judgement and how we see things. Emotions have the tendency to block out or weaken other skills such as perceptiveness, logic, honesty and strong will which effectively destroy other skills such as objectivity and communication, and much greater potentials. Submission to temporary or vain pleasures or emotions also hinder one’s development and long term planning for greater accomplishments. Controlling emotion allows one to be calculated, seeking the best case scenario in any situation.
It is for good reason many religions and traditions such as Yoga teach calmness, through meditation and other exercises, to control one’s thoughts and life. These in addition to teachings on emotional intelligence as well as deliberate efforts or encouragement to control one’s emotions help develop this skill.
11. Awareness (Self and Social Awareness)
Awareness is about being alert or conscious of oneself and others or the surrounding, picking up on any signals or changes in signals as and when they happen. The opposite of this would be absent mindedness. Awareness happens without any obvious communication taking place.
Being self-aware or socially aware helps take decisions or actions helpful to and in the best interest of oneself and their surroundings at all times. An absent-minded person often breeds annoyance in other people when their actions conflict with their responsibilities and expected deeds, and slow down their own progress.
12. Focusing Skills
This is the ability to block out noise (things, senses or information that are presently not needed) to track and lock on to or sharpen one’s senses for a given item as needed. Focusing is vital to picking up information and developing advanced skills. Focusing does not mean one may not multi-task, but that for any task one is performing, that they are able to look on to things, sharpen their senses and block out noise as needed.
There are many ways to build focus depending on one’s mental predisposition. Often in order to focus one needs intermittent breaks or distractions, which is counterintuitive because distraction is the opposite of focus. Students might also find that repeating after a teacher (in their heads) as they talk and/or following/reading a teacher’s lips helps focus on what they say. Writing short notes as one studies also helps focus. Many find that dark environments, on computers or in rooms, help focus by removing distracting lights and views. Similarly quite environments help others while others prefer harmonious background sounds to focus. There are innumerable tricks for keeping one’s focus in various other activities.
Confidence means positivity or trust in the potential of something. While strong will or conscience has to do with holding on to a decision or need, confidence has to do with trusting in capabilities (future-oriented). A lack of confidence creates doubts even when one has all the information pointing in a positive direction, regarding a matter. Doubt jeopardises or throws away potential. Fortunately, this is a quality that is not particularly scarce in people.
Interpersonal Skills and Qualities
These are skills or qualities one primarily practices with others.
14. Communication (Listening, Understanding, Responding) Skills
Good communication skills is one of the most essential and powerful skills in society, one which many claim to have yet is all the same heavily lacking in society. This is because not many actually now what it means and what it requires of them, often confusing it with language (for e.g. English) skills or proficiency. Good communication skills is the ability and tendency to, in a proper, adequate and timely manner, give information or feedback and listen to information or feedback, and the ability to understand or properly handle such information or feedback.
In other words if one receives information and doesn’t respond, they are failing at communication. If one has trouble listening they have poor communication skills. If one has trouble articulating or expressing themselves, even with good language skills, they are poor at communication. Communication also fails when a party practices good communication and another does not.
Good communication skills is essential to building any good relationship be it privately, in business or international relations. Most of the world’s problems, from personal squabbles to work challenges, civil unrest and wars, when examined carefully will each reveal at the heart, a failure of communication in either of the three main areas, on someone’s part.
Communication skills can be developed by conscious effort to improve on the things it demands; listening, understanding and responding.
Learn more on What is Good Communication Skills?
15. Nonattachment and Objectivity
The ability to separate oneself and not get attached vainly to things opens up a world of opportunity for knowledge discovery and thus growth, development, fairness and progress.
Humans love to associate, and while that is good in and of itself, the attachment it creates can be detrimental, sometimes catastrophic. Humans associate right from birth with a religion, race, ethnicity and nationality, and subsequently for most people a political party, ideology, sporting club, a band, idol or other figure, and build attachments to these. Other things people get attached to are previously held notions, one’s own self, status or perception.
When one gets attached to something, they are inclined to defend it, no matter how wrong it may be, when it gets so. It creates heavily clouded judgement, delusion, blindness or defection from logic which is impossible to notice by such a person; cognitive dissonance as it’s termed in psychology.
People defend things they are attached to, also, as a self-preservation measure. Opposing views or truths threaten what might seem core to their existence, or the grounds on which their life stands or revolves. They therefore like views that reinforce or validate their existing notions, so they can continue to live as usual (wrongful or detrimental as it may be), as opposed to truths which challenge them to reposition, relearn, or rebuild (liberating or progressive as it may be).
Nonattachment however makes improving one’s views tremendously easy. It is a powerful skill for objectiveness, discovery, development and progress overall.
One can build nonattachment by simply deciding to separate oneself, to be independent as an individual, from all associations, and by learning to stand on one’s own intellect, forming one’s judgements rather than relying on their associated communities’ to influence what they know and believe in, as many do. It also helps to, in any situation, pull oneself away as if one were not in their current position, to gain a broader, third person’s or “bird’s eye” view of the situation. And most importantly to remember to approach each and every argument as an opportunity to explain and discover perspectives and reasons, rather than to “win or lose.” That way, it’s easy to embrace new positions whenever facts point elsewhere better (and why would anyone hold on to poor judgment or knowledge), so every argument is a win even if they were initially mistaken; and one doesn’t even give themselves the opportunity to be “wrong” because they would’ve sooner accepted and adjusted their position once something new is learned, than to make a fuss about it.
16. Love and Respect
Love is a sense of belonging or connection to something or someone that inspires us to seek its/their best interest. Respect is acknowledging the inalienable or intrinsic value of something or someone and its/their right to exist. Love and respect work together as an ability and tendency. The trick to love and respect is often to put oneself in others shoes, to wonder if one were them; not just people one looks like, but all humans and life in general.
It is said that love and respect for all life is the path to wisdom. This is because it helps us take decisions or positions that are in our own interest, by being in the interest of others.
For instance by helping a person in distress, we realise that that person could be us, in another life or circumstance, and the help we give might be the same help we need in their stead, which we would receive or not receive depending on the deeds we establish ourselves. Even with animals a similar analogy is posed by the question of whether humans would be satisfied to be treated by a higher life form the way they treat other animals.
Beyond these analogies there is also the chain effect of love and respect, whereby through it (or the lack of it) one deed leads to other deeds that eventually come back to reward or affect us or our relations. For e.g. if one were to harm or fail to help a family or community, from which a doctor, scientist, inventor or driver could have emerged later, to save one from misfortune, or bring them fortune. There are numerous real-life stories in which such events occur.
Ultimately, through love and respect, we create societies that thrive and benefit our own selves in the long run.
List and Categories of Core Skills and Qualities
Note: “Helpful Personal Skills” like Awareness and Focusing Skills as listed, may be more directly impacted by developmental conditions like autism, and subsequently affect more skills in other categories, through no actions or inactions of an affected person.
Other Factors for Growth and Development – Resources
Skills and qualities do not always act alone. They act on, utilise or transform resources such as
- Existing knowledge
- Capital and
- Opportunities (including problems or challenges, and favourable environments)
The potential of some of the skills and qualities above (such as perceptiveness, imagination and hard work) are examined in the context of “all other things being equal.” Meaning, the difference they would make given similar levels of exposure to say existing knowledge and capital.
Regardless of that, many of the core skills and qualities are still powerful in spite of the amount of resources available to a person. A person with many or all of these core skills will often rise above a person with none but resources.
Other Skills and Qualities Derived from Core Skills
The following skills and qualities are a manifestation of a combination of core skills and qualities. With the relevant core skills and qualities, one invariably possesses these other skills and qualities. They may be termed as one’s Special Skills and Qualities.
Creativity = Perceptiveness + Imagination
Foresight = Perceptiveness + Imagination + Logic + Experience
Intuition = Perceptiveness + Logic + Experience
Smarts = Perceptiveness + Logic + Knowledge
Wisdom = Perceptiveness + Logic + Knowledge + Experience
Problem-Solving Skills = Perceptiveness + Logic + Organisation + Hard Work
Critical Thinking Skills = Perceptiveness + Curiosity + Logic + Organisation + Desire for Improvement + Knowledge
Ingenuity = Perceptiveness + Imagination + Curiosity + Logic + Organisation + Desire for Improvement + Resolve + Knowledge
Industry = Hard Work + Desire for Improvement + Resolve
Networking or Friendship Skills = Perceptiveness + Logic + Awareness + Confidence + Communication Skills
Responsibility = Perceptiveness + Logic + Honesty
Patience = Control over Emotion + Resolve + Logic + Perseverance
Fairness = Perceptiveness + Logic + Honesty + Objectivity + Love and Respect (for Others)
Pride = Perceptiveness + Logic + Awareness (Self) + Confidence + Love and Respect (for Oneself)
Humility = Perceptiveness + Logic + Control over Emotion + Awareness (Social) + Confidence + Love and Respect (for Others)
Others are time consciousness, relationship building skills, team skills, learning skills and countless others, all merely functions of core skills.
Here, it is easy to begin to see why those core skills are important and why they are responsible for everything else.
For e.g., a creative person is simply someone who is perceptive and imaginative, no more and no less; be it a musician, filmmaker, artist, or writer. In the same way, anyone with perceptiveness, imagination, logic, and experience has foresight, in business or any other field.
Core skills and qualities and the special skills and qualities derived from them may together be referred to as Applicable Skills and Qualities.
Core skills in addition to
- Existing knowledge and one’s memory retention capabilities, and
- Physical skill and strength
…may also be TRANSFORMED, through education and training, into Concrete or Usable Skills and Knowledge. Concrete or usable (different from ‘useful’ as all others are) in the sense that they are more tangible end-results or activities, finished products if you like, that other things were applied to get. These may still be integrated into more complex concrete skills and knowledge. They are naturally innumerable but may be grouped into:
- Domestic, Social or Life Skills and Knowledge which help us in our homes and life in general E.g., Cooking, cleaning, home maintenance, subsistence agriculture, dating, childcare etc. skills
- Professional Skills and Knowledge used in work or economic activity. E.g., common ones like basic maths, computer [usage] skills (which may also include typing and various application skills), or complex or specialised ones like welding, photography, drawing, programming, surgical etc. skills.
In other words, concrete skills are an application and transformation of the same core skills, aided by existing knowledge and our memory for such, and physical effort.
If the main ingredient for one’s, concrete skills and knowledge is retentive memory or given knowledge, and thus lacks core skills, one may become intelligent but not smart. Intelligence is simply the possession of knowledge or information. Having chunks of information without an ability to connect things or apply them properly creates a problem abundant in society today known as educated illiteracy.
Indeed, for this reason, it is not uncommon to find professors, who have attained the highest levels of education in society, lack basic reasoning skills. It is because they, and the educational system, have failed to develop in themselves essential core skills for, e.g., perceptiveness, logic, curiosity and objectivity.
Knowledge and physical effort without many of the core skills can also result in rigid labour. This is where a person is only good at following instructions and repeating things from memory rather than thinking on their feet or adapting to needs, which is something the real world needs, in contrast with the academic space where they may have excelled incidentally.
Ultimate Results of Core Skills and Qualities
Ultimately what we get as individuals and as a society from combining these skills are
- Growth & Progress (Economic and Social)
- Development (Economic and Scientific)
- Discovery and Invention
They all result from various combinations of core skills at various levels. For example:
A successful entrepreneurship will always result from creativity, foresight, industry and problem-solving skills (each various combinations of core skills) working with capital.
Philanthropy is entrepreneurship working with love and respect for others.
Scientific discovery and invention results from ingenuity which results from 8 core skills.
The list goes on.