Today I had a great conversation with Cindy Van Arnam, the wonderful leader behind Focus On Great. For the last while Cindy has been talking with youth across central British Columbia focused on how they can “be great” and do great things throughout society. I really enjoyed talking with Cindy, and heard the world shrink up when we discussed our hometowns, which are close to each other in Alberta.

While I was talking with Cindy I remembered the essential nature of self-skills inventories when we’re sharing our abilities with our communities. Whether we’re trying to promote positive messages to youth, consult national nonprofit organizations, or build a community network that can change the world, it’s important to be fully aware of what we can do individually, and to remember that those abilities are what makes us essential to changing the world.

A simple way to do a self-skills inventory is to write a big “T” on a sheet of paper. On the top of the left hand column write “Soft Skills”, and on the right side write “Hard Skills”. Make a list of your soft skills on the left side- those abilities you have that you can’t see with your eyeballs, things that are inside of you: Self-respect, courage, French language speaker, Type A personality. Your hard skills are more concrete, perceivable abilities: Mac operator, curriculum writer, and graphic artist. With that skill inventory intact you can easily tic off your value to a potential partner, client, or ally. You can also be clearer with yourself about why and how you rawk.

My conversation with Cindy also reminded me that there are a handful of awesome youth engagement organizations in Canada that I love and respect, including Vancouver’s Purple Thistle, the Columbia Basin Trust’s youth program, the Centre for Excellence in Youth Engagement, and the Alberta Ministry of Education’s Speak Out programme. They all kick butt.

Cindy, good luck! And for my regular readers, stay tuned for moresoon. You can also find out about my free youth worker job coaching!

Written by Adam Fletcher, this article was originally posted to Learn more at!