A case for having multiple skills in a fast-changing world
In a time where the world is obsessed with telling us to be hyper-focused on one skill and putting our identities into boxes, here’s a case for having multiple skills.
Every job requires not one but multiple skills — all to be used when called upon. CEOs constantly need to tap into creative thinking, creative people constantly are in situations where they must apply commercial sensibility in harmony with artistic exploration. Managers notice that they learnt a lot many things in B-School, but sometimes on the job, it’s the art of managing people and “How to get work done without being an asshole” are abilities that come in as most pivotal.
For me — Graphic Design, Film, Writing, Music, Dance, Art have always been different sides of the same shape. It goes like — I have an idea, and now it’s upon me to decide what medium is best suited for that message to be communicated. Each medium would require different skills and abilities — dancing would require a certain level of control and flexibility of the body, art would need an understanding of how colors and brushes interact with a canvas, and so on.
Consider the iconic Indian filmmaker Sanjay Leela Bhansali. I love his repertoire of work, but I also admire his courage and passion to immerse oneself in different parts the process. At the core he is a storyteller, but he’s also a director, music composer, set designer, acting coach, DP, choreographer, scriptwriter, lyricist and so much more — all rolled into one.
It’s a long life, and as humans, we have the liberty to learn and explore a smorgasbord of skill sets and mediums. We don’t have to be perfect (whatever that is), we just need to get it right and maintain high standards of quality.
When it comes to applying skills professionally and you’re confused about what to explore, the concept of supplemental skills might be a great way to break ground.
What you’re practicing right now, you’re already good at — let’s call it your Core Skill.
Enter, Supplemental Skills — relevant skills around that core skill which can help expand the scope of your services and enhance value delivery.
More skills up your sleeve, more power to create intended outcomes. As a designer, I am far more empowered, accountable, and effective, when I don’t just make the creatives, but get involved in campaign strategy right from the beginning and come up with compelling copy.
It would make sense to nurture a skill up to a certain level + get professional feedback before one creates that “instahandle” and starts inviting projects.
Writing two lines of rhyme on a birthday card doesn’t make one a (professional) copywriter but write 500 of those, and you start to command credibility.
Each skill has a gestation period despite how many hours we’re giving it each day. Skills also grow better when we immerse in them, not just by practice, but by reading, looking at the work of the greats and absorbing all that energy in. When we nurture the foundation not just with practical work but with knowledge about the medium, it makes us feel less of an impostor, gives us greater control and a space for expression.