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

Past versus Future


If we signify the “Past”, our children epitomise the “Future”. Our generation is history but the future generation is a mystery. I have always wondered as to why we study so much of history and not much about the future.  We have to realise that our past generations have contributed to our success and happiness in life. It is our duty to invest our best for the benefit of the future generations.

Let us look at the family as an institution.  How much of our time are we investing in our children ?  How do we contribute to the success of the future ? Many of us believe that investing in academics and ensuring our kids get good scholastic education will insure their future.  I am afraid we may be wrong. The future will thrive on the values and beliefs we inculcate in the next generation.

If we move to the work place, the situation is not very different.  We believe that if we hone the skills of the younger generation, we have done our duties. It is important to remember that future of human kind is an optimal combination of ‘Skill ‘& ‘Will’.  While “skills”can be trained, “will”has to be internalised.  We cannot expect that the younger people will listen to what we say.  They may follow what we do.

It is in this context, it is important for us to lead by example.  We have to as parents, teachers and leaders be clear what will shape the world of the future.  We have to continue to invest in new skills but is equally important and may be more relevant to inculcate the will.  It is also very important to realise that while skill can be be developed over the years, will gets deeply embedded in the mind and may be difficult to change.

The values of the past may not be a passport for the future.  Just as the skills of the past may not create a future of our choice.  Thus it is critical to review and reshape the future by investing time and effort into it.  We cannot inculcate values by investing money.  We can train people on skills by spending money.  But, it is virtually impossible to inculcate the right values by spending money on our future generations.

The success of the future generations lies in the investment of our time today. We cannot expect miracles in the future without establishing the foundations of values required for its sustainability.  The future will become present even before we realise it.  It is important for us to realise the impact we can make today for creating a future, which all of us will be proud of.

Just as in the photo above, the future generation will follow what they see of the past as measures of success.

Let us invest today for a tomorrow we feel proud of.

S Ramesh Shankar