10 Powerful Skills That Are Hard to Learn but Will Pay off Forever.

By Jennifer Thompson


June 13, 2022

Life is a series of lessons. When I reflect on my life and talk to people who embody great wisdom, I see ten powerful skills that are hard to learn but will pay off forever.


To the mind that is still, the whole universe surrenders.

— Lao Tzu —

Self-mastery is about mastering your inner world, which comprises your thoughts and emotions. To master your outer world — the world around you — your relationships, career, and future — you must first master your inner thoughts and feelings. This is possibly the hardest of all lessons but the most important. If you don’t master yourself, you’re easily unmoored by your circumstances. And those around you will dictate your actions instead of your inner compass.


“The unexamined life is not worth living.”

— Socrates—

Self-reflection is taking the time to observe, reflect, think seriously, meditate on, and evaluate your behaviors, beliefs, attitudes, and motivations. Self-mastery can only come about by self-reflection. It’s about knowing what makes you tick. This kind of personal reflection can only come from taking time out to meditate and be mindful. Be present and be the master of yourself.


“With realizing one’s potential and self-confidence in one’s ability, one can build a better world.”

— The Dalai Lama —

Self-confidence is a belief and trust in your ability to determine your life’s outcomes. Confidence can be specific to a situation, such as the confidence to speak in public. Or it can be a general sense of feeling self-empowered where you can face up to any challenge.

“You can move a mountain with belief. You can win success by believing you can succeed. There is nothing magical or mystical about the power of belief.”

— The Magic of Thinking Big, David J. Schwartz, PhD

We all experience periods of self-doubt, no matter how successful we are. And we may feel confident in one area and lack confidence in another. But you can build your self-confidence. Here’s how:

  • Practice daily self-care.
  • Move your body. Exercise makes you feel good and look great!
  • Invest in yourself.
  • Feed your mind — read, attend classes, etc.
  • Stop comparing yourself to others.


“Humility, I have learned, must never be confused with meekness. Humility is being open to the ideas of others. “

-Simon Sinek-

Plainly speaking, humility is the ability to see yourself accurately as a person with strengths and weaknesses. Humility is a sign of self-awareness. By being humble you are able to acknowledge ways in which you can improve yourself.

Emotional Intelligence

“Emotional intelligence is a way of recognizing, understanding, and choosing how we think, feel, and act. It shapes our interactions with others and our understanding of ourselves. It defines how and what we learn; it allows us to set priorities; it determines the majority of our daily actions. Research suggests it is responsible for as much as 80 percent of the “success” in our lives.”

-J. Freedman —

Emotional intelligence is the ability to accurately interpret and understand feelings and emotions — yours and those of the people around you. Your EQ affects all aspects of your professional and personal life, from your ability to self-regulate your emotions, manage behavior, sell an idea, and lead and form healthy relationships. A high level of emotional intelligence helps you engage with others effectively and develop meaningful connections.

Let Others Speak First

“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.”
― Stephen R. Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change

If you truly want to master life, learn to listen. Be present solely to understand what’s being said and what is left unsaid. People long to be seen and heard. So, see them and hear them.

Learn to Guard Your Time

Time is the most valuable coin in your life. You and you alone will determine how that coin will be spent. Be careful that you do not let other people spend it for you.”
~ Carl Sandburg —

Time is the only irreplaceable thing. If you want to master your life, start by learning how to master your time. Manage your day, and you’ll manage your years. You do this by getting your priorities right.

Look at your life right now. Is your life cluttered? Do you spend 80% of your time on matters affecting only20% of your life? Have you traded “effectiveness’ for busyness? What if you were effective and spent 20% of your time on activities that impact 80% of your life? Guard your time.

If you don’t control what you allow to reach you, you’ll always be responding to other people’s agendas. Learn how to segment your day. The first hour of your day is what I call your “Gold Mind” — yes, it’s your most precious time — it’s that time of the day you prime yourself (your mind) for what’s ahead of you. You learn to set your intentions and set the tone for the day.

By managing your time wisely, you allow a flow state to occur.

Build Your Wealth

“The goal isn’t more money. The goal is living your life on your own terms.”

— Chris Brogan —

Like most of us, you probably long for a day where you are financially secure and can do what you want when you want, and with whom you wish to. Financial freedom is about building our wealth.

I cannot emphasize the importance of paying yourself first as a foundational habit to building wealth. Invest your savings wisely to get your money working for you. And start now.

Learn to Serve

Not everybody can be famous, but everybody can be great because greatness is determined by service.

― Martin Luther King Jr —

I firmly believe we are on this earth to serve. You have one shot at serving! How you choose to do it is dependent on your passions and purpose. Your job in life is to discover what those are and use them to serve! As part of priming at the start of your day, ask yourself: how can I serve?

Learn to Let Go

Decluttering creates the space for growth and more of the life experiences we want, helping to let go of the past. And that letting go isn’t just about “things”; it’s also about out-of-date inner blocks.”

– Clare Josa, Dare To Dream Bigger-

Whether it is a startup that failed, clothes you no longer use, a betrayal, a relationship, or mistakes you’ve made … let it go! The best lesson you can ever learn in life is to learn to let go.

Bringing it All Together

Life is about acquiring skills through a series of lessons. We are bound to repeat our mistakes when we don’t embody these lessons. The ten skills I’ve listed above make for a better life.


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