The Most Important Skill

What skill trumps most? Is it brains? It is muscles?

Photo by krakenimages on Unsplash

Before I answer, let me share a brief history of my upbringing, which led me to write this newsletter. When I was young (and still am), my parents loved me as most parents do. They loved me so much that they gave me everything in the world. To add icing to the cake, I am an only child too. So I get all that love and attention.

Lucky me. But because I didn’t have to suffer, does this hinder my ability to be considerate towards others? Do I have difficulty connecting with others through their pain and suffering? I can’t change my upbringing.

Coming back to the question about what skills trumps most — the skill of understanding others.

Not just for business, but also for family and friendships.

Would you value the smartest person or the strongest person? Or the person that understood people better? Strengths and smarts are useful, but understanding others is most valuable.

In my five years working as an optometrist, the most important skills weren’t perfect refraction or knowing all the eye diseases, though these were important. The most important skill understood people. Understanding their wants and needs and being able to communicate to this person on their level.

If you work in any other profession, would you agree?

Understanding people is a universally important skill. If we strip down what we do for a career and focus on the bare general skills, understanding people would be one of them.

In optometry school, I was fixated on learning eye disease and passing exams. After school, I’m focusing on how to understand people.

Thankfully these skills don’t require natural-born genius. We can work on it step-by-step.


Understanding people requires two things:

  1. listening, and
  2. communication.

We start by listening to the other person. Then, we communicate with simplicity. We can do this at work and with our loved ones at home.

Understanding people is the most important skill. It is rare to do well without it. Do you agree?