4 Ways to Diversify Your Skills and Improve Your Talents

By  //  January 5, 2021

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To maximize your success in all areas of pursuit—from career goals to personal hobbies and interests—it’s helpful to broaden your skillset. A versatile, transferable range of expertise can make you more creative, adaptable, solution-oriented, resourceful and quick to learn.

In fact, as you hone new skills and progress from a novice to an expert, your neural pathways start to rewire themselves to cement this knowledge or behavioral shift in your brain, according to research from the University of Pittsburgh.

The more you step outside your comfort zone and experiment with a variety of undertakings, the more resilient and less averse to failure you will become.

This openness to learn, innovate, explore and grow can serve you in all kinds of environments or scenarios. Some talents are ingrained, while others are acquired over time, but no matter where they come from, it’s crucial to sharpen and diversify these skills as much as possible.

So, here are a few strategies to build on your areas of competence—both in work and life.

Challenge Yourself to Learn a New Hobby

Whether it’s a musical instrument, a second language, an artistic medium or a topic of study, make a point to learn something in an area that you lack experience. The acumen required to develop a new hobby can reinforce your existing skills too. For instance, consider the trajectory of writer-turned poker champion Maria Konnikova.

In her recent memoir The Biggest Bluff, Konnikova describes how her interest in learning poker and her established skills as a multi-linguist helped her succeed in both arenas. The ability to speak more than one language made her a sharp tactical strategist, while the understanding and observation of poker turned her into an agile critical thinker. Together, these skills have enhanced both her linguistic and poker table expertise.

Find Online Courses, Tutorials or Webinars

There is no shortage of online resources and materials to strengthen your current skills and lay the groundwork for new talents to develop. Do you want to improve as a content writer, public speaker, website designer, software coder or social media marketer? Are you passionate about horticulture, photography, illustration or cultural activism?

Whether the goal is to elevate your professional resumé or delve into a personal interest, thousands of virtual courses exist to help you do just that.

E-learning platforms such as Udemy, Skillshare, Teachable, Coursera, Studocu and others make it easy and convenient to enroll in a diverse range of online workshops. Some of these classes are even free to access, and most are taught by instructors who are also authorities in their respective fields.

Schedule in Time to Practice Consistently

The most successful elite performers have one specific trait in common, according to an article in Time—they commit in advance to consistent, deliberate practice. In fact, this report continues, those who make a long-term commitment to refining their skills are 400 percent more competent than those who only make short-term commitments.

Ask yourself, “Am I willing to practice this skill on a daily or weekly basis for as long as it takes to become proficient?” If you are not invested enough to treat this as a main priority and direct the required amount of time, energy and focus toward it, then your commitment level will not be sustainable.

Practice is useful, but consistency is what improves and solidifies expertise. So build a practice schedule into your routine, then hold yourself accountable to this commitment. Eventually, it should become more like second nature to you.

Be Receptive to Mentorship and Feedback

Is there someone you know and respect who has a skillset you want to learn from or emulate? Maybe this person is a work colleague or supervisor who can write JavaScript programs. Or maybe this person is a friend who plays the violin or just ran a marathon.

Whatever skill you are interest in acquiring, there could be someone in your life who would make an excellent mentor in this area. Request their help with a humble, teachable attitude.

An estimated 76 percent of working professionals believe that mentorship is important for career growth, based on research cited in Harvard Business Review.

Real-world knowledge from the people you admire is an invaluable resource, so learn from their actions, immerse yourself in their wisdom, insight and experience, and be open to their constructive feedback. This is a hands-on way to observe what makes them successful, and then replicate those desired skills or behaviors in your own pursuits.

A multi-faceted, diverse skillset can help you succeed in just about any venture you might embark on. Whether your goal is to earn a career promotion, to become fluent in Mandarin, to launch a business or to train for an athletic competition, you can—and should—always look for opportunities to hone existing talents and develop new ones as well.