The One Soft Skill Required to Thrive

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By: Michelle Klieger & Jonathan Shaver

In 2020, soft skills continue to be critically important to potential employers. Many people don’t realize that hiring managers often rank soft skills as more important than hard skills and technical expertise when filing positions. See AgCareers.com complete analysis here. This analysis came before the novel coronavirus brought the world to a crashing halt. Now stress-levels are higher than ever and people are less connected, which makes soft skills an even bigger part of every job. It makes sense that communications and compassion are important, but right now resilience might be the most important soft skill.

Seed World PRO advisor Jonathan Shaver explains that resilience is a critical skill for individuals and teams to keep up with pressure, stress and continuous change that includes events that do not go as planned. In a very short period, people went from life as normal to over one-third of the world’s population living under some level of lockdown. Any work that can be done from home must be, as millions of people are infected by a deadly disease. This situation is evolving quickly, and resilience is key. For many people, most days don’t go as planned, making resilience a critical component for both survival and success.

Inner Strength

Most people think resilience is internal resilience, also known as perseverance or inner strength. This is one type of resilience. Contrary to popular belief, inner strength is not something that is innate, it’s fostered throughout a lifetime of challenges and struggles. Most of the people you admire for their inner strength have been developing this skill throughout their whole life, maybe on purpose but probably not.

Perseverance fits perfectly within the psyche of the seed industry and broader agriculture’s idea of “git ‘er done”. In the seed industry there is an understanding that challenges arise and yet the work still needs to get done. Every time you are presented with a barrier that you eventually overcome you have shown resilience. That is how inner strength is nurtured over time. If you work this muscle, eventually it gets strong enough to help you navigate the huge obstacles that life throws at you.

Indirect Exercises

Unlike other soft skills, you cannot work directly on resilience. It’s not like public speaking where you join Toastmasters and give a speech once a week until you are no longer terrified. Nor is it like teamwork where you can practice passing the ball and not going for every shot yourself. You must work on resilience indirectly, by improving the skills and conditions that help you and your team be more resilient when the time comes.

Resilience breaks into more tangible characteristics like flexibility, adaptability, optimism, and learning from experience. These are the soft skills that can be improved upon. By trying to increase your mental flexibility you are making your mind more agile. In those moments, when you are feeling stuck, you can adapt your thinking and behavior in a way that will inspire you and boost your resilience and your chance at success. You can improve mental agility in many ways, a few examples are changing your surroundings, learning a new skill and questioning thoughts you hold.

By regularly forcing your brain to adjust to new situations, then being forced into new situations is less paralyzing. You’ve had to be flexible and come up with new solutions during these exercises. That flexibility probably came in handy when all your on-farm sales meetings were canceled. You approach this shift like every other way. You find new ways to engage with customers and make sure that you can still help your customers and close the deal.

Since every day brings new challenges it’s not surprising that resilience is important. Perseverance is not restricted to individuals. Teams, divisions, and companies also need resilience to adapt and survive. Once you have improved your internal resilience then Shaver encourages employees, managers, and business leaders to build workplace resilience.

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