Skip to main content
Skill development

Tell me who you are and I’ll tell you what skills to develop

eye 291 Published on 26 Apr. 2021
tag #Skill development

Here’s a bit of general knowledge for you – who once said ‘become who you are’? Was it Pindar, the Ancient Greek poet; a contemporary German philosopher; or Central Test, an international psychometric testing publisher? The answer is… all three! Pindar said it first, then Nietzsche took up the phrase, and Central Test has made it their standard-bearer for personal development.

For Pindar, this phrase was a mantra for self-discovery and self-actualisation. Nietzsche interpreted it differently, supposing that fundamentally no one really knew themselves. Central Test has brought these two visions together, allowing everyone to discover who they really are so that they can unleash the full potential of their talents.  

Knowing yourself isn’t easy 

Nietzsche had it right, knowing yourself is no easy task. See for yourself: are you able to draw up a list of your twenty greatest attributes? Twenty, that may seem like a lot, but it really isn’t. Most of the repositories offering to identify your skills will provide fifty or so, which isn’t even, for that matter, an exhaustive list. We have a lot more qualities than we might be led to believe,  we just struggle to identify them.

Psychometric testing can be of great help during the skills identification stage and is a powerful method for fast-tracking self-awareness. Those who get involved in the exercise are often astonished by the outcome. On one hand, on seeing the array of skills they have under their belts and on the other, when they discover the unexpected, perhaps untapped talents they possess. Does that mean they aren’t taking full advantage of their potential? 

Why self-awareness is crucial

Let’s turn our attention back to our philosophical maxim and the verb ‘become’ in particular. Presented here in the imperative, it’s a command for self-betterment.  So, finding out who we are seems to be a prerequisite in achieving this goal. And incidentally it’s in our best interest to set to work since self-awareness offers up nothing but benefits.

Self-awareness means knowing who I am, what motivates me, what I’m worth, what I’m capable of and how far I can go. Isn’t having this information available a way of making work life easier?

In concrete terms, this means that I can know what works for me and make choices in line with my true self. I can properly meet my own needs and feel content. I can have a grasp of the scope of my abilities, my assets, and my skills to facilitate my integration  and my development within the workplace. I can be aware of my potential and my talents in order to exploit them fully and experience an amazing sense of competence. In short, I can become who I am and therefore be happy and thrive.

From self-awareness to skills development 

Becoming who we are is a constant quest towards finding ourselves, leading us to develop our careers at the rate at which we actualise our skills.  And skills we have aplenty. While all skills can be developed, an individual cannot develop all skills (yes, let that sink in for a moment). Individuals can develop all of their own skills. Let’s take a look at this idea in more detail.

Do you prefer to hone the skills you already have a good handle on or instead develop those that are lacking? Both responses seem valid, but wait until you’ve read the following example before deciding… 

Take an instant to think about your areas of weakness… For example, are you disorganised, overly controlling, or lazy?... Do you really want to develop your organisational skills, your ability to let things go and to react quickly? Think about it carefully, because if we turn each weakness on its head, we can see that you aren’t disorganised but adaptable, not controlling but vigilant, not lazy but laid-back.

So why force yourself to backtrack and to go against the grain of your own personality? It shouldn’t be a question of developing whatever skill you can. You already have a wealth of skills at your disposal, you’d be better off discovering and capitalising on them. This will make your work life simpler, enjoyable and in line with who you are as a person. 


If we want to make progress and follow our career paths, we need to constantly evolve and develop our skills. It’s not easy to become who you are, as you need to explore yourself and find your true nature in order to embark on a skills development journey with your most authentic self. Don’t force yourself to go against who you truly are and risk losing yourself in the process. While this quote dates from over 2,000 years ago, it is still relevant today, and now we have tools to fast-track our self-awareness and become who we really are.

Helen Simard

Consultant Psychologist

Theses articles may also interest you
Skill development | 30 Mar 2022
The skills your teams need to better perform

Over recent months, we have seen a drastic shift in our attitude towards work. We have had to face up to a new reality. Mastering new HR software and having to coordinate our teams working from home was one thing.

Skill development | 05 Oct 2021
Unleash your learning potential with RIASEC!

Let’s take a moment to cast our minds back to our school days. Imagine you are sitting in a classroom, with dozens of other students around you, busy taking notes or chewing over the words of a distinguished professor, three hours deep into their learned discourse outlining the results of their scientific research.