Soft Skills Suck …

Soft skills suck…but not in the way some that some of you interpreted that title.

Here are two ways I see that soft skills suck: 1) soft skills, when done well, suck fear out of the atmosphere. Along with fear, soft skills also suck jealousy, gossip, and insecurity out of the environment. And, as my podcast pals Rich Sheridan and Renee Smith so beautifully articulate — eliminating fear is the fundamental call of leaders. If you’re wondering what fills that void, well it’s another four-letter word that petrifies many a leader >> L-O-V-E.

The second thing that sucks about it is: “soft skills” has to be one of the worst misnomers on the planet. It’s high time we abandon some of the mindsets and practices that may have worked during the industrial revolution, but do not and will not work in a #HumansFirst world or workplace.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, in a cave, or maybe even a monastery you know the world of work and workplaces around the world are undergoing massive change.

Whether you call it a shift or a revolution — the genie is out of the bottle and will not be returning. And, that’s a great place for somebody to shout, AMEN! Or as my friend, Claude Silver said in last week’s Higher Purpose Podcast conversation #PREACH!

If you think I’m against soft skills, you couldn’t be more wrong. I just think we need to call them what they truly are…and what moniker would I nominate?

SUPERPOWERS! That’s right, I suggest we begin calling soft skills Superpowers because in today’s world — that’s the effect and impact of what was once almost cast aside like a limp handshake. Let me set the stage and share how recasting soft skills as superpowers was a Eureka! moment for me.

I’m blessed to know and be getting to know dozens, hundreds, even thousands of amazing people around the world who are hearing the same sound many of us are hearing and joining the parade because we are marching to the beat of a different drummer. John Naisbitt foresaw this back in 1982 when he wrote, Megatrends. (Hat tip again to Rich Sheridan – who shared this in a book club conversation earlier today.)

The most exciting breakthroughs of the 21st century will not occur because of technology but because of an expanding concept of what it means to be human.

If you’ve been listening to recent episodes of the Higher Purpose Podcast, you know I’m knee-deep in an ongoing series of conversations with #HumansFirst Club Presenting Members about what it means and takes to live, love, and lead with greater humanity. I was reflecting on these conversations and BOOM! that’s when it hit me. Those leading the way are HumansFirst Heroes and they are fluent in what we once called soft skills, but in this new era are in fact SUPERPOWERS.

7 Simple Superpowers of HumansFirst Heroes

What follows is far from an exhaustive list…however, I hope this is the catalyst for us collecting creating and curating what becomes a more complete list. Here are a few — I talk about these seven in this week’s Higher Purpose Podcast. You can listen here if you want. The podcast conversation is a different take on what you read here.

X-Ray Vision this works in a very different kind of way for HumansFirst Heroes (HFH). You see into a person…not the way Superman did. You’re seeing through the veneer that people have worked hard to project and this X-ray vision occurs in at least 3 dimensions:

Seeing beyond the veneer or behind the mask. Cut through the clutter and the crap of the polluted environment — whether it’s crap others put into the atmosphere that clouds the ability to see clearly. Or whether it’s defense mechanisms and protective layers — the masks people wear to project some other identity.

Seeing into the heart and seeing the REAL beauty, value, and worth of YOU the individual.

Seeing into the future and seeing who the person in front of you is capable of becoming and WHAT they are capable of accomplishing. Seeing things they cannot yet see for themselves.

Extraordinary Strength to LIFT the team or organization HIGHER. Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound…I still hear the words of the opening lines of the classic TV show, Superman. I’m not saying that HFH — by themselves can leap tall buildings, but what I have observed is their ability to LIFT teams and individuals to extraordinary achievement. Part of this works in tandem with their X-Ray vision to see INTO people and CALL OUT of them the gifts, talents, abilities, and capabilities that exist. HFH believe in the power of community, team, and togetherness. They have amazing skills in making this happen. Intentionality MIGHT be at the core of their Extraordinary Strength. It’s certainly not accidental.

Supersonic Hearing — except that it’s not that HFH hear better than others…it’s their ability to LISTEN and LISTEN DEEPLY that is their superpower.  Here’s one thing that sets HFH apart of MeFirst leaders — these heroes VALUE what YOU or OTHERS have to say MORE than what THEY have to SAY. And they work hard…I mean hard to develop this skill that others perceive as a natural ability. Here’s what I’ve learned, whenever I encounter a great listener it’s a pretty sure bet they worked hard to learn to listen.

Claircognizance — (if you’re well-versed in the superpowers vernacular, you know this word — me? I found it through Google.) It’s the ability to gain information through intrinsic means — in the case of HFH, they have an amazing ability to extract from others (out of you) things you didn’t even know were there or that you were capable of doing. That, my friends, is a superpower. One of the ninja ways HFH do this is by asking questions that unlock hidden treasures.

Weaving relational webs around the world in the same Spiderman scales incredible heights by shooting webs. The HFH I know are connectivity queens and kings. Weaving relational webs builds on the combined effect of seeing people, seeing the desired future that we all share, and connecting us together in the quest to make that future a reality. Many of the HFH I’ve encountered are amazing connectors. If you have the superpower of connecting people — to the vision, to one another, to a global community of like-minded and like-hearted people — you just do it naturally. You cannot not connect people.

Suspend Time is a superpower I love to watch in action. HFH don’t literally stop time, but they have an uncanny ability to be so PRESENT in the moment that if you are the recipient of their attention it seems as if time stopped (and that you were only person on the planet who mattered at that moment). These HFH make magic in the moment and infuse so much meaning in the mundane that the mundane is transformed into the extraordinary.

Enhanced Empathy. It was said of the Grinch that he “had a pea-sized heart that was two sizes too small”. Well, HFH have supersized hearts that ooze with empathy that you experience as compassionate caring. This is not a show, it’s a genuine expression of who they really are and how they truly care. You know it when you’ve encountered a HFH with the superpower of enhanced empathy.

There’s my first pass at a list of 7 Simple Superpowers of HumansFirst Heroes. This list is far from complete. I invite you to add to this list. Think of a HFH you know and what label would you apply to the superpower you see them exercise and add it to this list in the comments below.

I’m looking forward to your comments and hope you’ll listen to all of the HumansFirst conversations on the Higher Purpose Podcast.


Kevin Monroe
Kevin Monroe
Kevin Monroe helps people flourish on the road less traveled in business, leadership, and life so they make their dent in the universe. Since he was a teenager, he has usually chosen roads less traveled which usually involve going against the grain and seeking to go with the flow. All in hopes of making the world a better place and inspiring others to do the same. His unique contribution to the world is creating environments, hosting encounters, and crafting experiences where people are inspired, equipped, and encouraged to live, love, and lead in extraordinary ways. He hosts a variety of events and experiences designed to do just that including; the Higher Purpose Podcast, The Gratitude Challenge, This ExtraOrdinary Life, and most recently, The League of Extraordinary Difference Makers. Kevin holds a Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership from Gonzaga University and an undergraduate degree in theology from Mercer University. He lives in Woodstock, GA with his lovely wife, Gwen. They are the parents of two adult children and one precocious granddaughter, Emma.

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  1. You raise several interesting points in this piece Kevin and as you rightly say, the list is not exhaustive.

    The ongoing debate regarding soft skllls goes well beyond a fad topic for we are living on the cusp of a seismic shift in our so-called civilisation that is compelling us to question the very notion of humanity. This is why I believe ‘soft skills’ is a misnomer and should be more accurately termed ‘essential skills’ since these are skills we need in every sphere of our human activity and not merely at work as so many former generations knew and applied.

    I also have reservations about all the empathy-related ‘stuff’ being banded all over the place. (I am not targetting your piece.). For starters, it shows going with the flow leaving me wondering how much of it is authentic self-questioning and self-appraisal to change for the better. Even more disturbing is the proliferation of neurolinguistic programming which enables fake empathy to influence and win over trust and power.

    Finally, while I feel the verve in your descriptions, I do not agree with the term ‘superpowers’ since it connotes an illuding sense of power.

  2. Love this idea, Kevin. In addition to the Supersonic Hearing description, I’d add that HFHs hear what ISN’T being said. Like claircognizance, it’s about understanding through intense observation beyond the words being said.

  3. What a beautiful piece, Kevin! Not only do I obviously agree with every word you’ve written, but I’m flooded with gratitude in realizing that my life is filled with incredible people, like you, who possess these superpowers.

    • Our lives are indeed made rich by the people we meet and are blessed to share the journey with, Kimberly. I am grateful that for over a year now you have been one of those amazing people in my life.