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Generic Skills: Are They The New Fundamentals!

Updated on March 21, 2013

Generic Competence

When Old Advice No Longer Works

Back in the last century, we were told that if you give a man a fish, he eats for today. But, the wisdom went, if you teach him to fish, he'll never go hungry.

Ha! Times have changed, and that advice is not longer as useful as it once was.

Consider all of the places where fish stocks have collapsed and fishers are going hungry. Same with loggers, when the forests are gone. Or miners when the mine is tapped out. Or the record companies, local bookstores and all those whose jobs were out-sourced offshore.

Metaphorically, they all knew how to fish. But their fish stocks (their customer base or resource bases) all collapsed and many floundered, not knowing where to go or what to do.

The problem is that specific skills such as fishing, logging, selling books and are no longer enough. They're no longer fundamental. Yes, they're still needed, but, by themselves, they're not a sufficient base upon which to create a flourishing life or thriving work. Not in these changing, challenging times!

Change and uncertainty demand a new kind of fundamental skill - generic skills. These higher-order skills can be applied to creating almost any results, in any field. These skills enable us to organize, change and apply our specific skills in new and novel ways — and develop new skills, as needed.

Generic Creating Skills

One of the most powerful generic skill sets i work with in my coaching practice are the skills and structure of creating. Creating is different than creativity, or creative problem solving. Those are mostly about doing things differently. Creating is about bringing into being highly-desired results - with whatever we have to work with. It's about the act of creating.

Some of the skills involved in creating are the ability to clearly envision results that matter, then ground that vision in an objective assessment of the current state of the result. Being able to hold vision and reality together in your mind's eye allows you to embrace the gap between them, and utilize the creative tension that emerges from that gap.

Together with the motivation needed to launch a project, and the momentum that comes from taking successful action, creative tension acts as a third and critical source of energy in the creating process. It provides the energy you need to take action, even when you don't feel motivated, or haven't yet developed enough momentum to carry you through to the end.

Creative tension is the core generic skill in creating. It energizes your actions and guides you toward your desired result.

Finally, you also need to know how to organize your actions both strategically and tactically. You need to recognize that large results are made up of many small and medium sized results. And you need a structure — an organizing framework — in which to arrange and integrate those actions so they consistently move you toward the results you want.

The Benefits of Generic Comptence

Generic competence is important in times such as now, because it give you authentic confidence and the ability to stretch or what you want, regardless of what you have to start with.

It gives you the skills and confidence to create your own business, or a new job within your current organization. It gives you the wherewithal to line up your various projects and actions so that they support your higher life purposes, the things that bring meaning to your life.

They also help you generate the money and materials you need to live a rich and flourishing life.

These skills, generic skills, are the new fundamentals. They're the skills you need to navigate difficult and changing times - and to create the kind and quality of success you most want.

If you don't want to fall victim to changing times, to have your "fish stocks" dry up and go hungry, I recommend you think about developing your own generic skills. You'll be more employable, more valuable to those around you and more useful to yourself.


For of Bruce's writing, please visit his HubPages Profile.


From Problem-Solving To Creating


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    • Bruce Elkin profile image

      Bruce Elkin 5 years ago from Victoria, BC Canada

      Kartika, thank you! I appreciate your support and encouragement.

    • kartika damon profile image

      kartika damon 5 years ago from Fairfield, Iowa

      Thumbs up! Really interesting and well-written. I went to the article that talks about generic skills - I agree these are the skills that transcend the times and help people be successful in life. I will be reading more and thanks for sharing this great information.