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The future of education is here

Knowledge, skill or success - which one gets you farthest?


Reyan Mishra

Feb 10, 2021

Via: AG5

Popularly referred to as KSAs , the significance of knowledge, skills, and attitude in the holistic development of an individual has been put down on papers regularly. Although the reports have been very effective in bringing home how KSAs may affect one’s overall performance, a certain degree of ambiguity is inevitable and fairly evident. The vagueness and nature of subjectivity in the interpretation of the three often lead to a confusion as to which trait helps in what.

Let us break it all down to understand better! Knowledge, skill, and attitude are 3 pillars of learning.

Knowledge is a cognitive process that assists us in making informed decisions and critical thinking. In other words, it implies the ability to spot, understand, retain, and employ information to get work done. Unlike skill and attitude, knowledge is measurable and can easily be evaluated. Some scholars argue as to whether knowledge is preliminary or attitude, but the consensus suggests that a proper attitude regarding a subject is not possible to develop in absence of basic knowledge.

Skill is the ability to do an act or multiple acts post or during the process of knowing. Experience is arguably the best method to develop and foster skills - for example, a swimmer must practice in order to make and maintain swimming as his/her strong skill. A report presented by MIT Sloan School of Management suggests that a skill or set of skills is what defines how successful one turns out to be. The report highlights how a leader can be successful in his/her endeavors through upskilling with data literacy.

Attitude goes beyond success because not only does it play a part in attaining success, but it also characterizes the flavor of one’s victory, for example - after an MMA match victory, some players may see a rise in confidence while others may see a similar amount of rise in arrogance. Post a UFC victory, Khabib Nurmagomedov likes to thank each contributing member while Conor McGregor may choose to rub the nose of the defeated.

Attitude can best be understood as a nature of expression: for one particular thing there may be different ways to accept and react to it. It has constantly been argued that the right attitude is most difficult to establish among all components of KSAs. It is so because in order to express most fitting emotions one must have good knowledge of the subject in question.

Raaji Naveen, the co-founder of Beyond 8 believes that among all the components of KSAs, attitude serves as the motivation for an individual to do the job and also defines the way they do it. Of course, skill and knowledge also play a vital role.

In one of Raaji’s earlier blog posts , she articulates that passion has more to do with attitude while profession has more to do with knowledge - and skill is a common player. However, it is a bit tricky. The first line of the article says the ideal case is one where passion is profession. Well, if that’s true, it turns out knowledge, skill, and attitude must all be in sync and focused on one objective. Let’s understand it with an example and try to substantiate the opinion that oneness among knowledge, skills, and attitudes is ideal:

knowledge skill or success which one gets you farthest beyond 8 1

Via: Yahoo Finance

Elon Musk has managed to nail all three components:

Knowledge - The Tesla founder loved reading books on technology and sciences - and filled up his head with tons of information from fields of his interests.

Attitude - As a kid, the 49-year old would always think of futuristic solutions and always believed there was a need for more technologification.

Skill - Elon’s early interest in technology led him to develop necessary and cutting-edge engineering and designing skills. He code-created video games and sold them at the age of 12.

Result of his well-aligned KSAs: Elon Musk is one of world’s most thoughtful, revered, and disruptive leaders today.


In summary, the KSA tripod works best when they are perfectly balanced. There is no question of one getting you further to your goals than the other. Simply put, KSAs could well be the answer to finding happiness and success in the 21st century.

Read more about how we enable learners to develop their knowledge, skills and attitudes on

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