Influence of Skill

it's often overlooked
In nearly every area of our life — our learning, our friendship, our romantic relationships, our parenting ability, our emotional life, our health-related behaviour, our mental health, our career, our effect on the future — our level of skill is one of the biggest determinants of our behaviour and of our outcomes.

This is in stark contrast to the mental model that most people have of themselves: they think of themselves as a bundle of attributes, much like a character in a story. Depending on the person's belief systems, these attributes might include social status, race, ethnicity, personality, role in the family or workplace, life circumstances, health, age, fate, astrology sign, and so on. Often people believe these attributes are either unchangeable, or that these attributes will magically change due to some symbolic experience — for example, that getting married will cure their infidelity habit, that going to college will make them smarter, or that getting older will make them more responsible.

Because people's mental models do not include their own skill levels, they are often fairly helpless when it comes to changing themselves. This also influences the level of responsibility they take towards their own actions — they blame their attributes, instead of taking charge and gaining whatever skills they need.

Skills are highly learnable. However, there are several things that help:
  • having access to quality training material — this is a little difficult outside of academia
  • knowledge about how we gain skills or understanding — such as basic training in epistemology, memory, and study skills
  • either a dedicated teacher, or a personal dedication to learning

This perspective on skills is especially important for being able to protect the future. In order to have the best influence possible on the future after us, we need to focus on developing those skills that are most vital to making our own life efficient, understanding what the future needs, and taking care of the future's needs.