Knowledge, skill or attitude ?


What is important in life ?  Knowledge, skills or attitude.  This is an ongoing debate for generations.  We assimilate knowledge through our academic system.  We acquire skills by practising what we have learnt.  Our attitude is moulded by our beliefs and values.  What comes first and what is the most important ?  It is almost like the chicken and egg story in life. Did the chicken come first or the egg ?  

Knowledge is an assimilation over centuries.  It is gathered through experiences of people and experiments in life.  This knowledge then is passed on to generations through academic pursuits or through exchange between members in the family and society.  When people apply the knowledge gathered this way, they hone their skills in practise.  However attitude is developed by environment and our own beliefs and values.  What do we believe in and what will we never compromise in life ?

Isn’t it true that if Newton had not sat under the apple tree, the laws of gravity would not have been discovered.  So, it is true that practise leads to theory and theory enables you to practise.  This means there is a good correlation between knowledge and skills like theory and practise.  Attitude is the way we perceive things in life.  this perception is based our own life experiences and what we see in others.  We believe what we see and hence this guides our attitude in life.

Thus, knowledge, skills and attitude are all equally important in life.  It is important to assimilate knowledge, then practise your skills and evolve your attitude.  While knowledge and skills are relatively easy to transfer, it may be difficult to pass on your attitude.  Hence, many organisations assume that one has the knowledge and skills for a job and mostly focus on checking on the attitude of the person.

It is true that our academic systems are more tilted towards knowledge and less towards building skills and moulding attitude.  It is here where we need to look at academic reforms and also appreciate the role of family as an institution in attitude building.  While academic institutions may spread knowledge and organisations may succeed in building skills, it is the family and society, which has to contribute effectively in shaping attitudes in the the future generations.

Knowledge, skills and attitude are like three pillars of a tripod.  While the tripod is considered the most stable of all geometric designs and hence used with cameras, it is also true that if one leg is shaky, the tripod is unstable. Hence, it is critical to give due weightage to knowledge, skills and attitude in life.  A good balance of all the three may help us lead life successfully.

The monastery in the photo above can be a fountain of knowledge but we need to hone our skills and mould our attitude.

What is your take ? 

S Ramesh Shankar
Oct 2016

Knowledge is for sharing


All of us assimilate knowledge and skills as we grow in life.  Some of us are willing to share it, while others want to conserve it.  In my view, knowledge is for sharing.  Some of us believe that if we share knowledge, we may lose our uniqueness and our mental wealth. I think it is the other way around.  The more you share, the more you learn and the more you grow in life.

Let us first try to understand from the organisation context.  Let us assume we have great people practices in our organisation.  Some of us are reluctant to share our best practices with other organisations thinking that we may lose our competitive edge.  With many years of working in the corporate sector, I can confidently state that no organisation can cut, copy and paste the best of practices of any other.  An organisation culture evolves over years and can never be copied by another organisation just by aping it.

Similarly, the culture of a nation is built over centuries.  No other country can come in, learn and adapt this culture to their society.  It is like you may be able to copy and paste a photo or picture from one source to the other.  But, you can never transfer the beauty of nature in reality by copying photos of nature.

Now let us come down to the family as an institution.  Is it possible to imitate the values of a family by just trying to follow them.  It takes generations to institutionalise values in a family.  Even, if we generously share our values and beliefs, it is not possible just to transplant the same without evolving our own values.

Just like organisations and institutions, individuals are also worried about sharing knowledge and skills.  Let us imagine the world’s best batsmen trying to teach batting to any of us.  Even if he is willing to spend his lifetime sharing his knowledge and skills, we can not expect to become the world’s best batsman without putting in hard work and honing our own skills.  If knowledge sharing could lead to knowledge assimilation so easily, the world would have geniuses all around.  

Knowledge is for sharing.  The more we share knowledge and skills, the more we evolve and grow as an individual.  Let us look at the geniuses around us.  Whether it is a sports person or a musician or a scientist,  they are always willing to share their knowledge and skills with others.  The more they share, the more they learn and the more they are respected in society.

Like in the photo above, I met with a group of young talents in my organization, who were more than willing to share knowledge and skills with one another.

So, let us share whatever knowledge we have from today.  We will gain more than we are likely to lose.  Try it.

S Ramesh Shankar