The Four Assets That Will Define Your Career

And the four values they can unlock for you.

Your career won’t be defined by your jobs.

Jobs are simply transactions — mechanisms through which you exchange assets for value.

The key to a successful career is your ability to develop four key assets: Skills, Knowledge, Effort, and Time.

While you may choose to emphasize some assets more than the others depending on your goals and interests, all four play a key role in your ultimate success.

The more you develop them, the more value you’re able to create, and the more valuable you become.

Here’s a deeper look at how to identify and develop each asset in your work…

Asset #1: Skills

What are your abilities? What do you know how to do? What have you mastered? What can you bring to the table that others cannot?

Skills can be industry specific or more general, but they’re crucial to your success.

No matter how much innate talent you may (or may not) have, your skills must (and can) be developed.

That’s what makes them so valuable.

Asset #2: Knowledge

How much do you know? What have you learned? What’s your expertise? What are you able to teach? What do you know that others don’t?

Knowledge is an infinite asset.

Since it can’t be “mastered,” there’s a huge spectrum on which we all fall in different places.

This creates opportunities for you to stand out from the crowd.

Knowledge is about more than what you currently know — it’s also your ability to learn new things and how quickly you can do so.

Your ability to learn, which can be practiced and honed, is as important if not more than the knowledge you already possess.

Asset #3: Effort

How hard do you work? How much physical, emotional, and mental labor do you put into things? How determined are you? Mentally and physically strong? What’s your work ethic? How productive are you? How self-motivated?

You can’t just work your way to success, but you also can’t succeed without hard work.

Effort matters and some are willing to exert more of it than others.

It’s an asset.

Asset #4: Time

How much time will you give to a project? How much time do you have available? How patient are you? Do you have a long-term mindset? How well do you manage your time? How well do you manage other people’s time?

Time is your most limited and measurable asset.

There’s a reason so many people are paid based on their time.

If you’re able to master time and make it work for you and others, you become a significantly more valuable contributor.

How To Use Your Assets To Unlock Value

As you develop your assets, you must choose what you want to use them to acquire.

Remember: A job is a transaction through which you trade your assets for something you value.

It’s easy to fall into the trap of judging a job solely based on money, but money is only one type of value available in exchange for your assets.

And it’s often the least valuable of what you can get.

Here’s a breakdown of four key values you may want to use your assets to acquire.

Value #1: Money

This is obvious and unfortunately what drives too many career decisions.

How much money do you want or need? How much do you value security? What do you need the money for?

Money matters and there’s nothing wrong with seeking it, but decisions solely based on money tend to overrate short-term interests at the expense of long-term goals.

Money is valuable, but it’s not the only thing you should seek.

Value #2: Learning

What will an opportunity or job expose you to? What can you learn? How will it enable you to grow your knowledge? What will you see that you’ve never had a chance to see before?

Learning can happen in a million different ways and it’s important to choose paths that generate opportunities for you to learn new things.

When you do, you ensure your assets continue to grow and unlock additional future value.

Value #3: Opportunity

What opportunities will a job create for you? Will it open new doors? Introduce you to new people? What may come from it that wouldn’t otherwise be available to you?

Never take a job solely based on what will happen in that job. Consider what that job may lead to next.

To build a successful career you need to stack opportunities on top of each other and avoid dead-ends.

A seemingly terrible job that’s likely to lead to an incredible opportunity in a year or two isn’t a terrible job — it’s a means to an end.

Don’t underestimate the value of opportunity.

Value #4: Experience

Will a job lead to interesting experiences? Will those experiences be valuable to others down the road? Are you collecting experience that’s different than what you already have, yet still complementary?

Life is meant to be experienced, not just lived . Assess the value of a job opportunity with that in mind.

It’s worth pursuing opportunities that engage you, force you out of our comfort zone, and give you stories to tell and moments to remember.

But experience is about more than just adventure. It’s also about the accumulation of experience in your chosen field or interest.

For example, being a concert roadie may not pay well, but the experience of going on tour with a band could be incredibly valuable if your dream is to become a music manager or promoter.

Experience is valuable when relevant — don’t overlook it.

So, the next time you’ve got a career decision to make…

Consider the assets you’ve developed (skills, knowledge, effort, and time) and the value you’ll get for providing them to somebody in a new job or opportunity (money, learning, opportunities, and experiences).

That’s the equation that will ultimately define your career, so make sure the math works for you.

And if it doesn’t, look for ways that you can further develop your assets to unlock the value you seek, or look elsewhere for a person or company who can offer you the value you seek for your existing assets.

Good luck!