Essential Life Skills for Career Growth

Four essential skills to accelerate personal and career growth.


Everyone is always talking about what it takes to get into Harvard or any of the other Ivy League Universities in the United States. Upon reading a bunch of various articles about this subject floating around on the internet, some of the best insight comes directly from the admissions counselors themselves. After all, they are the ones that ultimately decide who gets into these prestigious schools. The following are four skills that these admissions counselors say give applicants a leg up if they possess them.

The ability to manage money

When a most students go to college, it is probably the first time they are ever required to manage their money on their own. University advisers say that they would like to see a student already have the ability to manage their money on their own prior to enrolling because the rigors of university life will cause stress and if combined with stress about money, the chance of successfully completing their degree program will likely be diminished. To combat this and to be well-versed in managing your finances, read several books on personal finance and practice smart money habits. This will lead to a change in your lifestyle in terms of money and will keep paying dividends long into the future.

Time Management

This one is huge. College is the first time in your life that you will be on your own with no one reminding you of all of the things that you need to get done. It is imperative to set goals and deadlines for yourself, and stick to them. No one will be there to tell you that you need to get something done. You are on your own. To combat this, get a daily planner. This way you can keep yourself organized and up to date on all of the assignments and exams that you have.

Conflict Resolution

By the time you hit college, you should know how to resolve conflicts in a healthy manner. For many, college will be the first time you have a roommate. Disagreements will happen. How you handle them is up to you. Managing conflict is a key skill. There are many online resources on how to mitigate conflict and to handle criticism that you may have with someone else. Knowing how to do this consistently will help you grow personally and professionally throughout life.

The Ability to Stay Positive

College and your career in general will make you discouraged many times over. The ability to maintain a positive outlook through the tough times is vital to being successful. You need to have the wherewithal to realize that one bad grade is not going to break you and it most certainly will not stick around with you forever. The ability to roll with the punches is crucial because you never know what college, your career, or life in general will throw your way. Perfection is not the only way to succeed. The sooner you realize that, the sooner you will be able to make the adaptations necessary to advance toward your career goals.

Dealing with Criticism

The ability to handle criticism in a proper manner is vital to personal growth.

Often times we find ourselves unable to deal with criticism from an outside source. Our reaction is using one involving us telling that person to not judge, or the infamous, “Then do it yourself.” However, after reading a recent article, I have come to realize that dealing with criticism and feedback are absolutely critical skills to have in both the workplace and life in general.

The importance of accepting criticism and feedback was realized again recently, when Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer at Facebook, visited the Airbnb headquarters and was asked a simple question: “What’s the number one thing you look for in someone who can scale with the company?” In other words, what is the most important thing you look for in a job candidate that you hope will grow as the company grows and is successful? Sandberg’s response was quite direct, “Someone who takes feedback well. Because people who can take feedback well are people who can learn and grow quickly.” Short and to the point. Sandberg is absolutely right. People who that can demonstrate the ability to respond positively to criticism are the type of people that learn and grow the most because it forces them to see how they can get better and improve what they are doing. This is a great skill to have for anyone regardless of job title or level.

More often than not, emotion gets in the way of our attempts to deal constructively when we are offered criticism. When we receive negative feedback, our initial reaction a significant percentage of time is to get angry at the person offering the feedback and to tune them out and not listen. This is a reactive response to something that should be turned into a learning and growing experience. In order for this learning experience to happen, we must ask ourselves questions like, “How can I get better?” and “What can I learn from this person’s point of view?” In doing so, we force ourselves to see our faults and the different areas in which we can improve.

Criticism and feedback are always going to be a part of anything that you do in life. Whether the feedback was asked for or not, does not matter. In each piece of feedback, there are some truths to be learned. Only when we stop for a moment and teach ourselves that criticism should not elicit an emotional response can we begin to learn to see feedback and criticism as a positive path on which to move forward.