Humility & Ambition (#87)

The best candidate for any job needs only three prevailing qualities: aptitude, attitude, and willingness.

A portrait of a young woman with long flowing hair, sunlight reflecting on her right side.
Humility & Ambition, JLP

The best candidate for any job needs only three prevailing qualities: aptitude, attitude, and willingness. As long as those three characteristics are firmly established, everything else can be taught and learned. Without them, candidates who showcase the most relevant experience, skills, and work history aren't worthy of an offer to join the organization.

A candidate with the right aptitude has the necessary components to do the job. With guidance, training, and time they will rise to the challenges the role requires. A candidate with the right attitude will embrace a growth-mindset, act with humility, and avoid becoming their own obstacle to success when working in a supporting environment.

Yet it's a person's willingness that ties things together. Willingness is what makes learning possible. It makes ambition permeable by humility, binding the two together. It's willingness that allows us to foster a humble awareness of how little we know, even when we know a lot. The thrill of finding something out propels us to keep discovering.

Too many students think college is merely job-training, reinforced by the pressure to always have the right answer, to present to the world as already knowing. Corporations are even worse at this. However, knowingness is a danger, preventing students and employees alike from approaching new situations with high curiosity.

Willingness grants us unadulterated joy when we are proven wrong. Truly — consider this a moment — when we have complete certainty that we are wrong, we are utterly free to learn. We become fearless, all resistances are down, we are receptive, we are growing. We know the world has something to teach us, even if we don't yet know what that may be.

The Paradox Pairs series is an exploration of the contradictory forces that surround us.  A deeper study finds that these forces often complement each other if we can learn to tap into the strength of each. See the entire series by using the Paradox Pairs Index.