Venu Payyanur 

In the previous article, 116 attributes were mentioned that helps a person to be successful in life as well as in profession. The list was only indicative and one can dwell on each of those individual attributes at length. Essentially all those attribute could be classified into three categories. Character/Personality, Attitude/behaviour and knowledge/Skill.


Although character is related to personality, it is not the same thing. Personality is primarily inborn traits, while character consists of learned behaviour.

Character is a set of behaviour traits that define what sort of person an individual is. It determines whether a person will effectively achieve goals, be forthright in dealing with others and will obey the laws and rules of the group. It can also imply a variety of attributes such as integrity, courage, fortitude, honesty, loyalty, trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring or of good behaviours or habits, etc. Character is who we really are. It’s what we do when no one is looking. It is the accumulation of thoughts, values, words and actions. These become the habits that comprise our character. That character determines our destiny.

The family is the primary character-building force in a child’s life, and character education is a major family obligation. The following thoughts and actions determine and help build our character.

• Be straightforward, open and direct.

• Be sincere. Say what you mean and mean what you say.

• Look out for the best interests of the people who depend on you.

• Don’t lie (that is, don’t misrepresent facts or opinions).

• Be reliable; keep your word.

• Make only promises that you can and will keep.

• Support and protect the best interests of your family, friends, employers, community and country.

• Don’t talk behind people’s backs or spread harmful rumours or gossip.

• Share your values and beliefs with your children.

• Walk your talk.

• Treat everyone with respect by being courteous and polite.

• Judge people on their merits, not on their race, religion, nationality, gender, physical or mental condition, or social and economic status.

• Don’t manipulate or take advantage of other people.

• Think before you act. Consider the consequences for yourself and others.

• Be accountable. Take responsibility for the consequences of your actions (or lack of action).

• Be reliable. Always perform your duties.

• Don’t blame others for your mistakes.

• Don’t take credit for other people’s work or accomplishments.

• Don’t give up.

• Don’t neglect your duties.

• Treat all people fairly.

• Consider all the facts, including opposing views, before making a decision.

• Live by the Golden Rule: treat others the way you want them to treat you.

• Don’t be selfish.

• Obey the rules and laws.

• Be a good team player.


Personality is the set of characteristics that each person possesses. Personality influences how one behaves as well as one’s motivations. The personality is the one making the person react in a certain way in various situations. Basically, it is the image that one presents in front of others. Some of the traits based on which we judge the personality of a person are as follows. Warm, outgoing, kind, easy-going, participating, likes people, emotionally stable, adaptive, mature, dominant, forceful, assertive, aggressive, competitive, stubborn, bossy, lively, animated, spontaneous, enthusiastic, happy go lucky, cheerful, expressive, impulsive, Rule-conscious, dutiful, conscientious, conforming, moralistic, vigilant, suspicious, skeptical, distrustful, abstract, imaginative, absent minded, impractical, discreet, shrewd, polished, astute, diplomatic, open to change, experimental, liberal, analytical, critical, flexible, perfectionistic, organized, self-disciplined, trusting, unsuspecting, accepting, unconditional, etc.

Personality traits are individual, subjective, and vary widely. Character traits are objective, constant, and timeless. Personality is easy to read, and we’re all experts at it, but to judge one’s character takes time.


Attitudes are vital/emotionalized thoughts about our existence. Attitudes can be divided into those that we have towards life, towards ourselves, and towards others. Attitudes can be positive or negative. An on-going positive attitude is the goal we seek. It leads to greater accomplishment and attracts positive conditions.  Most of our difficulties in life are rooted in our wanting attitudes. An attitude is born when an opinion is endorsed by the emotions. We acquire our attitudes through our parents as we are raised, in our interaction with others and the environment, through the genes we inherit from previous generations, and through the challenges and difficulties of life.

Perhaps our greatest stumbling blocks are in our attitudes. In our attitudes lies our greatest barrier to success in life. We can trace our positive and negative attitudes towards others, towards, things, towards ourselves, and towards life. Each person can make the effort to overcome their own predominant negative attitudes. This will lead to becoming a better person, and enable greater accomplishment and joy in life. When a person changes a negative attitude, often we witness an instantaneous positive response from life. The process of reversing a negative attitude would occur by shedding our subjective, false opinion about an object, and replacing it with the objectives truth of things. There are three ways to overcome negativity towards another, such as bad will, anger, jealousy, disdain, etc. First, refrain from verbally expressing it. Second control your emotions about it. Third, empty your thoughts of it. Success arises from shifting our reliance from the outer world around us to our own inner being, relying on right attitudes, rather than on external sources of support and assistance.

Examples of negative attitude about work and life include an unwillingness to be fully engaged in the work at hand, procrastinating, not caring about the quality of our efforts, being lazy, and being cynical. Examples of negative attitudes towards others is being hostile and harbouring ill-will to another, and being jealous. Examples of negative attitudes about ourselves is having low self-esteem and self-confidence.  If we can identify our own unique individual negative attitudes, and make the concerted effort to overcome them, not only can we create the right conditions for greater achievement and joy in life, but also under the right conditions we can invoke continuous sudden and abundant response from life.


Behaviour can be defined as the way in which an individual behaves or acts towards people, society or objects. It can be either good or bad. It can be normal or abnormal according to society norms. Society will always try to correct bad behaviour and try to bring abnormal behaviour back to normal. Human behaviour is influenced by culture, attitudes, emotions, values, ethics, authority, rapport, persuasion, coercion and/or genetics. The following are the root causes of behaviour differences: individual differences, differences in family patterns, impairment/disabilities, environmental factors and psychological factors.

Attitude and Behaviour

Experts say that that attitude is what you think whereas behaviour is what you do. In other words it can be said that attitude has to do with the mind whereas behaviour has a lot to do with actions.

Attitude is thought-oriented whereas behaviour is action-oriented. Hence attitude has all the power to shape the behaviour of a person. It is indeed true that a person with the right attitude would be endowed with the right behaviour too.

Attitude is all about the opinion somebody has about something in life. Behaviour is about how one responds to the impulsions and the pulls of the environment.

Knowledge and Skill

Knowledge refers to learning concepts, principles and information regarding a particular subject(s) by a person through books, media, encyclopaedias, academic institutions and other sources. It can be implicit (as with practical skill or expertise) or explicit (as with the theoretical understanding of a subject); and it can be more or less formal or systematic. Constantly increasing our knowledge is essential if we are to progress further or develop ourselves. Whatever field we are involved in, we always have to look for ways and means to expand our knowledge. Increase in knowledge in a particular subject can lead to better understanding, grasp, judgement, intelligence and ability in that area. It can expand our thinking and heighten our expertise on a topic. Knowledge allows us to understand, analyse, plan, evaluate and measure. The greater our knowledge, the more accurate our prediction. Knowledge ensures that skills are applied in the right fashion. According to scriptures, knowledge can be gained by four means.

“Achaaryaath paadam aadatthe, paadam sishya swamedhayaa, paadam sa brahmachaaribhya, sesham kaala kramena cha”. It means one can get one quarter of the knowledge from the teacher, one quarter by analysing oneself, one quarter by discussing with others and the last quarter one can get during the process of living.

Skill refers to the ability of using the acquired knowledge and applying it in a context. In other words, knowledge refers to theory and skill refers to successfully applying that theory in practice and getting expected results. To be successful in any profession, some of the skills that are essential are technical skill, communication skill, planning and organizing skills, interpersonal skills, team building skills, leadership skills, negotiation skills, time management skills, etc.

Knowledge can be learnt whereas skills require practical exposure and can also be in-born. Skills can take a person only to a certain level. To move ahead, it is necessary that a person has the requisite knowledge as well. Knowledge and skill are equally important. As they grow, so does the individual competency. If your knowledge is faulty and your skill is high, then you will go brilliantly along the wrong path. If your knowledge is high and your skill is weak, then you may go very slowly in the correct direction, but never arrive. To achieve the highest results, you need to be both knowledgeable and skilful. Knowledge points the way; skill walks the path.

“Knowledge gives you proficiency, application of the knowledge gives you efficiency and the knowledge applied at the right place, right time and right way gives you effectiveness”. And that is the secret of success.

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