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10 Must Have Skills To Build Success That Lasts A Lifetime

Posted on in Articles · Creative Advice

In this article, we will be discussing about the 10 best soft skills that are important for all creatives to navigate what’s to come, then grow and create meaningful success that lasts.


Although success can be easily defined as the achievement of goals, there’s a difference between temporary and lasting success. To keep thriving and build lasting success both personally and professionally requires that we serve a greater cause than ourselves.

Learn about the ten human skills or dare I call it, practical wisdom that’s important to develop and master so that you can create a greater cause beyond your own self-interest that will give you a very satisfying life.


1. Self-awareness

Besides understanding other people’s needs, self-awareness is also about understanding your own needs, desires, failings, habits, and everything else that makes you tick.

The more you know about yourself, the better you are at adapting life changes that suit your needs, hence making this an equally important skill to master.

Without adequate self-awareness, we struggle to understand others, to manage ourselves, and to develop healthy relationships. To build success that lasts, begin with self-awareness.

To boost your self-awareness, ask yourself:

  • What are my strengths?
  • What are my core values?
  • What’s my mission and purpose?
  • What’s my passions and interests?
  • What are my blind spots and my personality?

Practice self-reflection by writing down the answers to the above questions.


 2. Deep Listening

The practice of deep listening is the intentional quieting of the ego and the desire to jump to conclusions. By listening deeply, a different understanding of a problem often emerges. You will be able to sense what lies beneath the surface of things and gain valuable insights and context for where people are coming from.

By listening deeply, we can develop a deeper level of understanding without biases and limiting beliefs, that can allow us to express sincere appreciation for other people’s contribution. One way to master this skill is to listen first before creating.

When you stop to listen first, you connect with others well, releasing any friction that arises. It is much easier to push through your creative blocks when you can actually visualize what your audience needs. But more importantly, you’ll make stuff that people actually want.


3. Communication Skill

Once you have developed deep listening skills, then you will have no problem mastering effective communication. Being able to communicate well—in writing and in speech will set you apart from your peers. It will help you excel at work and be recognized for your accomplishments, and it will give you a competitive edge in the job market.

To communicate effectively, know what you want to say and be clear about your objective. 90% of communication is non-verbal so make sure the words you are using accurately convey the point you want to make, and that you have dealt with your feelings before speaking.

Take the time to organize your thoughts and deliver them in a straightforward way to ensure people understand what you are saying.


4. Positive Mindset

Starting an ambitious new task or taking a leap of faith is always the most challenging aspect of seeking success, but a positive mindset can help propel you past the barrier holding you back. With a positive mindset comes more drive to follow a routine, pursue a goal, and work towards it.

Being optimistic and thinking positively helps you cope with stress faster and more effectively. If an unpleasant situation happens, you can concentrate on solving it rather than thinking that the things are out of your control.

People who think positively also tend to live longer and feel better than those who don’t. All negative emotions reflect immediately on our body, and when we are stressed and have depressive thoughts, we face sleep problems, feel anxious and dissatisfied with everything.

When we get rid of the destructive thought, we also get rid of its physical effect.


5. Possibility Thinking

When you have clear vision, strong passion and the resolve to take action, you can inspire and create significant change. That is the core of what possibility thinking is all about. Possibility thinkers make decisions and determined commitments to achieve their goals.

Possibility thinking helps you develop the ‘I Can’ attitude. You will be undaunted by setbacks and obstacles. What seems unlikely to others, you decide it’s going to happen because ‘You can do this!’ This positive thinking sets your mind to look out for ideas, strategies and information that will make things happen.

“If you think you can or you can’t, you are right”. – Henry Ford.



6. Passion With Purpose

Loving what you do is important. That’s passion. But what ripens passion that will eventually give you the greatest fulfillment in life is the conviction that your work matters. If you want success that can outlast any job you have, then it is imperative that you identify your passion as both personally interesting and at the same time integrally connected to the well-being of others.

A sense of meaning comes when your passion is linked with a purpose. It will provide a buoyant confidence to keep you going.


7. Collaboration and Teamwork

Lasting success takes teamwork, integrity and the courage to stick with what really matters. As the saying goes, “two heads are better than one”.

Collaboration and teamwork fosters creativity and learning. Creativity can thrive more effectively when people work together as a team. Brainstorming ideas in a group prevents stale viewpoints that often come out from working solo. It also allows for faster execution of ideas and problem solving.

At workplace, collaborating on a project creates an enthusiasm for learning that solitary work usually lacks. Being able to share knowledge with the rest of your team helps you learn new skills you can use in your career.


8. Negotiation and Persuasion

Given the future of work and the growing gig economy, whether you will like it or not, more and more creatives will be forced to become more entrepreneurial. Part of what makes an entrepreneur successful is the ability to pitch and sell their services which is where negotiation and persuasion will fit in.

Majority of creatives regard themselves as introverts and therefore, don’t feel the need to develop and/or improve their negotiation and persuasive skills. Unless you have someone to represent you and do the talking for you or your brand, mastering this skill is important if you want a consistent rate of success and growth amidst the dynamic and competitive market environment.


9. Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence in simple terms is the ability to monitor one’s own and other people’s emotions, and use the emotional information to guide thinking, behavior and problem solving.

An emotionally intelligent individual is both highly conscious of his or her own emotional states, even negativity—frustration, sadness, or something more subtle—and able to identify and manage them well. Emotional intelligence helps a great deal in looking after our physical & mental health and well-being. It provides us with greater ability to manage effective relationships, to inspire and lead. It is in so many ways, the driver of success.

The following steps and practices can help you to increase your Emotional Intelligence (EQ):

  • Observe yourself: Pay attention and heed to what your emotions are telling you.
  • Respond, don’t react: When you react to your emotions, it’s an unconscious automated situation. Instead, consciously seek to identify your emotions and have thought in advance how you can use them more positively. Even the simple act of walking away when you feel anger is a positive response.
  • Pause for a moment: Stop and think before you act or speak. It’s hard to do, but keep working at it and you will become better.


10. Leadership

Some people are born with natural leadership skills. However, you can learn leadership skills just as you can learn a creative or artistic skill. Leadership skills aren’t just for management positions. It’s an added advantage you can have in your portfolio.

With good leadership skills, you will be able to lead by example and this will help motivate the people around you. You will create an environment where people will appreciate your hard work, contributions and eventually would want to do the same.

At workplace, you’ll also be able to recognize the strengths of each of your team member and properly delegate work according to their strongest abilities. If you’re running a design agency, here is an in-depth look on how you can be an effective leader in addressing problems, opportunities and the work culture in your agency.

If you’re an independent creative, good leadership skill inspires confidence. You will need confidence in order to make important decisions and stick to them. With confidence, you will be able to communicate well and strengthen work relationships (introvert or not). You will also be able present yourself and your brand well to your prospects and clients.



Being adaptive to the changes that’s happening in our industry is essential. More importantly, developing and mastering the above 10 best soft skills will pave the way for lasting success that will transcend whatever changes or adversity that comes your way. Are you already embarking on this journey? The choice is up to you.


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Currently based in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia, Hazel Lee is a designer, digital marketer and founder of YDJ. This blog was launched in June 2015 with the intention to inspire and support the careers of artists and designers.

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