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An Exercise On Skills Transfer

31st July 2019

It's not what you can do, it's who you are.

We hear about the importance of transferable skills a lot, particularly when there are major changes within a market or industry… so all the time at the moment!

For businesses adjusting to change there's often massive pressure to develop new services, new products, or access new markets, on top of delivering great service to existing customers. Achieving these ambitions takes growth and, increasingly, the value of securing people who can grow is being realised as we look beyond the concept of "previous experience in a similar role is desirable" and focus on the competitive advantage of diversity.

It takes a change of mindset though as you probably don't realise that "who" you are is much more transferable than "what" you do.

At Red Sky, we work with elite athletes to coach them through the career transition from sport to business and it is their mindset, attitudes, behaviours and who they are which transfers so brilliantly to the world of business. We have supported Rugby players convert to everything from running a whisky business to teaching physics and our Olympic/Paralympic athletes range from fund managers to coaches.

To adopt this sporting elite mindset we've prepared a trilogy of exercises to answer on your own or, preferably, to work through with a friend over a coffee or a glass of something cold!

The first exercise is how to identify the parts you can transfer to a new job or industry. Don't rush this process, mull it over for about a week because this is the detail about who you are.

1. You At Your Best

a) When you are at your rock star best, what does that look like? How do you behave, sound, move, dress, interact, work, play?

This might be a difficult concept to get your head around but imagine you are being observed on CCTV with no sound, what would be noticeable about you? Then, imagine there's no picture, just sound.

Describe your choice of words, sentence structure through to tone, pace, pitch and even how much you are talking.

b) When you behave at your best, how do you feel? Try to access some emotions that are a little more detailed than 'good' or 'happy'!

c) In a work environment, if you were to describe yourself positively in just 3 words, what would they be?

Try to write as much as possible in answer to all of the above questions, I would hope that you have quite a few paragraphs of text.

Then, try to distil it down to a sentence which captures who you are. See why it is probably helpful to have a friend you trust do this with you?

Now, with a little more detail on who you are… let us take a look at how you apply that. The homework for week two relates to applying your best, here's the series of questions to consider.

2. Applying Your Best

a) Ask yourself - How do I like to work? What is my style? Think about your interaction with others when answering this one: How do I interact? Also, consider the type of work where you might prefer to work alone, what is your preferred mix of working with others Vs working alone?

b) When, where or with whom are you at your absolute best most consistently? Are there places, times or people where you find being at your best comes more naturally?

We believe that being at your best is within your control.

The situation, task or people facing you could be enormously challenging but you are in control of producing the best version of yourself.

Just because you are working with someone, or a project, that you dislike or find tricky does not mean you cannot produce the best version of yourself. It might make it harder though, which is why it can be helpful to have good awareness of the things we find tough to deal with, the obstacles.


a) Write a list of everything that you believe gets in the way of you producing the best version of yourself.

b) Next, split that list into things that are in your control and things that are out of your control.

Are you able to join us in the belief that you are in control of producing your best performance? Perhaps, sometimes you find it really hard to push past the external factors which are out of your control and still display that best version of yourself. That is both understandable and very common.

Again, don't rush it. Build on exercises 1 and 2 over a number of weeks, observing yourself and taking notes.

We are in the business of studying those humans who are exceptional, in order that we can emulate them. Exceptional people work hard to notice or create the simple strategies which can help them to produce their best effort even when they do not feel like it.

The final exercise in this blog, exercise 3 focuses on developing your strategies.

3. Strategies

a) When you slip away from your best performances, what things help you to recover?

b) If time is one of the items on your list, how can you shorten the time it takes to recover?

c) If talking to other people is one of the items on your list, how can you work on your relationship with those people to ensure they will be ready and willing to support you?

If you are struggling to write your list, spend plenty of time observing yourself and make notes about how you notice yourself recovering from trickier moments at work.

This short blog is not intended to be completed all at once, you might like to make some notes on your answers and carry those with you for a few weeks.

The clarity around who you are (at your best) will evolve and this should help you to feel more certain about your unique set of 'transferable skills' - the essence of you that will help you stand out in job applications, personal statements and when answering interview questions.

Good luck!

Red Sky

Red Sky Management works with people in the business and sporting worlds, identifying their skill set, converting their potential and ensuring their continual, exceptional development.

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