eParachute Blog

On finding the work of your dreams, from Dick Bolles & the team at eParachute.

You Are a “Skills Iceberg.” Here’s How to Fix It.

It would be nice if each of us had complete knowledge of our skills, complete memory of all the times we’ve solved problems, and a clear direction for what each of us wants to do next in our work.

But that’s not the way it works for many people.

Sure, some of us have a great ability to remember. Those people can pull up many memories, recalling lots of their work and other activities. Maybe you’re one of them. But that doesn’t necessarily mean we’re good at actually seeing our own skills.

Why? For most of us, we often diminish our accomplishments in our own minds. We can’t easily see many of our own skills. And it can be hard to create a clear picture of the kind of work we want to do in the future.

That’s why many of us are like an iceberg. A “skills iceberg.” Sure, there’s part that’s above the waterline, skills we can see. But there’s a lot of human potential below the waterline that we are blind to. If we could just understand — not just our skills, but our best-loved skills — we would be better at problem-solving, and a lot better at planning our careers.

So here’s how to fix it.

The best way to overcome the Skills Iceberg problem is through the process of self-inventory. Using a set of exercises or techniques to develop a list of your skills, then filter that list for your best-loved skills, is the most effective approach. And, ideally, you’ll learn a process for doing that self-inventory, so that you can do it again and again, throughout your career.

You can solve this in several different ways.

The quick way is to use something like the eParachute JUMP program. It’s fast, it gives you some useful insights into your skills and interests, and it offers some valuable suggestions for fields to explore that might interest you.

A more thorough process of understanding what’s below the waterline of your skills is to use the Flower Exercises from What Color Is Your Parachute? We have a new course that walks you through the entire process of inventorying your skills, and prioritizing them by the ones you love using the most. And it’s not just skills: It’s also the kinds of people who help you do your best work, and the working conditions that help you do your best work, the values that are most important to you in your work, the kind of compensation you need in your work, and so on.

That’s how you can thaw the skills iceberg. Learn more about what’s below the waterline, and you’re no longer an iceberg.

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