Skills and attitude

By Engr. Carlos V. Cornejo

To succeed in one’s career which means getting a good job, being good at that job, and getting promoted, requires both having the right skills and attitude. Skills refer to your IQ, academic knowledge (physics, math, social studies, English, Filipino, etc.) and achievements (course you have graduated in college, professional license as a nurse, engineer, architect, etc.)  Attitude or sometimes referred to as your character, on the other hand, is who you are.  For Bo Sanchez the best definition of character is: who you are when no one is watching.  It’s how you behave when alone, with God as your only witness, that defines your attitude.

In management lingo, skills are referred to as hard skills and attitude are referred to as soft skills.  What your customers and colleagues at work see you on the surface, are your hard skills (how you work).  But your soft skills are mostly hidden within you.  Soft skills refer to your self-confidence, dealings with others, persistence, humility, charity, self-control, empathy, patience, punctuality, regularity in attendance, honesty, reliability, etc.   Smart companies look for skills from their job applicants but eventually hire based on perceived right attitude of the person during interviews.  Excellent companies know that an average level of skills can be upgraded but average level of attitude have little chance of improvement.  Skills, for them to improve require right attitude from the person in the first place, whereas a person with an average attitude will think he has sufficient skills already and does not need improvement.

Possessing outstanding skills but having the wrong attitude can even be detrimental to the company.  Imagine an excellent manager but is also dishonest to the extent that he would steal some of the company’s products and secretly sell it outside.  History is full of talented individuals who have used their talent for wicked ways.  These are the famous despots in the world, the likes of Hitler, Stalin and Pol Pot who have killed millions.   And the most talented and most intelligent of God’s creatures gone wrong, and who are partly the cause of all the evil in the world since time began, are the devils, who used to be good angels.

Schools should train for skills and for character.  A technical vocational school where I used to teach for many years does exactly that.  CITE (Center for Industrial Technology and Enterprise) located in Barangay San Jose (adjacent to Barangay Talamban), Cebu City has been training young boys for technical skills in electronics, mechanical and electrical technology but with much emphasis on character formation.  The spiritual formation of the school is taken care of by Opus Dei, a personal prelature in the Catholic Church.  How good CITE is with their character formation?  There are companies in Mactan Export Processing Zone (MEPZ) that only accepts CITE graduates as their technicians.  CITE gives character formation to their students through one-on-one mentoring, classes on Catholic Doctrine, regular spiritual activities through recollections and retreats, great emphasis on discipline with regard to doing their job assignments at school, close monitoring of punctuality and regular attendance in classes are just a few of their unique character-building activities.  Founded in 1990 by Blessed Alvaro del Portillo, the first successor to the founder of Opus Dei, St. Josemaria Escriva, the school has graduated around 5,000 technicians to date and has sent many of them abroad, uplifting the lives of these poor and underprivileged students.  If you have a son who is inclined in technical skills and can’t afford college, I suggest applying at CITE, and you would not have regretted it.

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