This article was written by Joe Jarvis and originally published at The Daily Bell
That’s what this world needs: skills. Raw resources are useless without the skill to properly apply them.
There are skills for financial gain, skills for personal gain, and skills for a backup plan. Most of them overlap; something once a hobby can become a career, for instance becoming a tennis instructor. Or a skill that is a “backup plan” can become the bread and butter in an emergency, like keeping bees or growing a garden.
Tangible assets are a needed hedge when it seems everything–the stock market, real estate, bonds–are overvalued or in a bubble. A good useful skill is as tangible an asset as they get. And unlike resources, a skill cannot so easily be taken from you.
Most people understand the need to acquire some sort of work skills in order to make money, be productive, and create wealth. But a lot of people decide to be trained in skills that other people, organizations, society, or those in power tell them they should desire. And then, they usually stop after acquiring one major skill.
But just like we diversify investments in order to spread risk, the same makes sense when it comes to the skills you invest your time to acquire. Be creative in your skill-set. There is really no one that can tell you what will be best for you, or for future job markets, or in an emergency.
Sometimes the demand for a particular skill can disappear as technology advances and years of training can become practically useless. In this situation, it makes sense to have something to fall back on so you aren’t forced into a low skill labor job just to make ends meet.
In fact, some of the most successful people have gotten to their final career destination by melding a seemingly random mixture of skills. Yoky Matsuoka is a Japanese woman who was a semi-pro tennis player in her younger years but went to school for technology and ended up in robotics. She was interested in the complex way the arm and hands moved during a game of tennis, and by combining her love of tennis with robotics, she helped develop the most state of the art robotic hand yet seen.
It always makes sense to have a plan b as well, to have something to fall back on. This could be in the event of losing a job or being stranded in the wilderness, or the economy collapsing.
There are certain skills that protect you from ruin in a really dire situation. For example, if an EMP attack took out the power grid, would you rather have 20 Bitcoin, or the ability to forage for wild edible plants? If you need to protect yourself in an L.A. riot type situation, a gun is a great resource, but it is practically useless without the skill to hit the target.
But backup training and useful hobbies don’t just have to apply to apocalyptic scenarios. Learning graphic design might be a fun side project that also gives you a backup plan if you lose your job. Being forced into a career change is not a far-fetched “catastrophe” for which to plan.
One skill I enjoy sharpening is foraging for wild edible and medicinal plants. In the event of a zombie apocalypse, I would be able to survive better. Let’s face it, I’m a bit of a prepper, so being able to find food in a natural environment gives me a sense of freedom, knowing that I wouldn’t immediately starve to death if left to my own devices.
In fact, though I am only an amateur forager currently, I think I might have enough skills to die very slowly if I suddenly had to forage for all my food. So slowly, in fact, that I may even hone those skills in the meantime enough to prevent the death. What I should do is start practicing complimentary skills like hunting and fishing so that I always have a way to find food, as long as I have access to nature. Here’s a video with a little foraging overview of wild edible plants where I live.
It makes sense to pursue things you are passionate about because otherwise there just won’t be enough energy and fervor put into shaping a skill to be useful.
Anything that seems like a fun hobby where a skill must be gained, there is no harm in pursuing it. In the short term, it will be a fun side activity but might become quite valuable in the long run. A friend of mine enjoyed singing for the elderly at assisted living and nursing homes. When he was unexpectedly let go from his job, he managed to turn his singing into a full-time career where he makes as much if not more money than before and enjoys much more freedom.
Often our skills end up being melded with others to form a unique type of skill-set with endless combinations. It’s the same reason why there can be infinite songs if you arrange a limited number of notes in different ways. Well, there are more skills than musical notes, and more are being invented every day. This provides for an endless combination of skills to be innovative in our hobbies, backup plans, and career goals.
I use examples from my own life about the type of freedom I pursue, and the skills which interest me, but that doesn’t mean these are the only or best ways to go. I really want to hear from all of you in the comments what you have done to diversify your skillset. I bet we will find quite the diversity.
written by Malcolm Reynolds , June 20, 2017
"I think I might have enough skills to die very slowly if I suddenly had to forage for all my food"
Lol, now that's funny.
written by Malcolm Reynolds , June 20, 2017
I've always been interested in a lot of different things. I'm more a jack of all trades instead of a glowing expert in one thing.
I love gardening and have studied and practiced a few different techniques. Mittleider method, Adam and Eve, hydroponics, aquaponics, SqFt gardening etc.
Of course, almost ALL info on hydroponics surrounds Mary Jane, so I'm familiar with how to grow, clone and process that.
The USMC taught me to shoot and I've continued to keep my skills sharp with pistols, rifles and shotgun.
I had a friend that loved to hunt, so I'd go along to learn. Also used his knowledge of bow hunting to familiarize myself with archery and bow hunting.
I became a Scout Master and enrolled both my boys, so that we could learn numerous wilderness/survival skills.
I know how to read a map much better than I can use a GPS.
I hike and backpack.
I currently study martial arts so that I'm at least somewhat competent with self defense.
I know how to properly prepare food for long term storage.
I've dabbled in wood working so that I can build things.
I'm a nerd and a software developer by profession, so I'm familiar with the principles surrounding software design, I know several programming languages, how to build computers, how to fix computers, etc.
written by Tricia , June 22, 2017
I like Malcolm have a lot of skills and knowledge (yet to be put into practice).
Not in any order:
Ceramics: so i could make things that are needed and sell stuff.
Cooking from scratch
Medium Level computer knowledge, just not programing.
Lots of skills in Homeopathic / Natural healing with herbs and stuff, but would really love to learn more about wild herbs.
I can shoot ok.
Know a few self defense moves, but need to improve.
Know first aid and the basics of wilderness first aid.
Have had EMT training
Can read maps well and know how to use a compass.
Know knot tying
Basic tracking skills.
Basic hiking and backpacking skills.
I have had 4 babies all - natural (no drugs and 3 with no IV's), so i could probably help deliver a baby and know lots about the all natural care of babies.
There may be more I can add to the list, but I can't think of any.
I have lots of things I have read about and researched, but have not been able to put into practice. I figure having the knowlege is better than nothing. And a lot of that knowlegde is in books I have collected.
I am planning on teaching all my kids how to do all of the above and more. Being able to be self-relient is the best thing ever.
Good luck to all on your quest to learn many skills!!!
written by Malcolm Reynolds , June 22, 2017
Totally didn't think about some of the things Tricia posted.
Yes, I'm actually a former active duty Marine that's pretty handy with a sewing machine.
I can crochet and quilt thanks to my mom.
I've had extensive first aid training in both the Corps and Scouts.