Leveraging the Soft Skills
I have a learning disability, dyslexia, and it seemed to many people that my problems with reading, writing and math would put a hard limit on how far I could progress in my life.
Indeed this seemed to be the case when I left secondary school with poor qualifications and no real prospects.
I was lucky to get the opportunity to go to technical college where I did well on a radio, TV and electronics course, concentrating in the last year in control systems.
I did so well in technical college that I was able to go to University on an Engineering Process Control Course, after a struggle through University I finally achieved a BSc 2.1 Hons and had the opportunity to do a PhD in Expert Systems for process control.
Life has never been easy for me and even with a PhD it was a year before I got a job working on Advanced Control Systems which has been my primary area of expertise ever since.
I have had a patchy and broken career from this point and have worked on job sites all around the world, although I am from the UK I have spent a large time working in the US.
I tried unsuccessfully to start a business in share trading and got burned and have worked in a number of companies gaining diverse engineering experience but always coming back to the Advanced Control Systems where I felt I had advanced as far as I could.
Finally I could get no further visa extensions and could no longer work in the US, where I have a house, at the same time I have been squeezed out of work by the global depression. All I could see was that I was desperate to get a job before my money ran out. I was literally on the point of a mental breakdown.
This is the point where I decided I just had to stop thinking about my economic situation, relax and start trying to figure out what was important in life. In this process I realized that hard engineering does not have the appeal for me that it used to have and now I believe that my greatest assets are my soft skills, my empathy and my intuition.
I have started on the path towards learning counseling skills and psychology and believe I can in time become a very good counselor and therapist as well as having keen insights into the human mind. And yet I am aware that all my hard engineering skills will mean nothing in the field of counseling and psychology.
So what can I do if I want to make a decent income at my stage of life, when I have a wife and son?
Now I see that what I need to do is leverage my new skills to create a synergy with my old knowledge and experience.
In the field of consulting engineering I can use my new people skills to work with the customer and explore my customer’s needs and understand what they really want bringing together my empathy with the customer and my intuitive process understanding.
Alternatively in project management I can bring together my understanding of process control systems and process control requirements with my new abilities to build relationships with people and motivate them.
I cannot say what I will end up doing but I have more options now, it may be process consulting, it may be project management, or general engineering management, it may be a permanent position or contracting and consulting with the new company I have started.
In the end though, the greatest benefit that exploring my human side has given me is that I have greater peace of mind and am less stressed with the events in my life and I have the understanding that whatever happens in my life I will do my best and that is enough.
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