What matters more — Attitude or Aptitude? I had always put my money on Application, but I realized the best bet is all three

I edited 1,407 files in 1,407 folders on Friday. Not by hand, mind you. That would have been a tedious and error-prone path to an inevitable suicide for someone like me. No, I built a spider to do the job, and it took a surprisingly long time to run — almost four minutes.

But I wanted to put the Phoenix Area Headlines Scenius scene into every engenu web page we’ve built so far, and that entailed editing 1,407 files in 1,407 folders — dispersed among thousands of folders in dozens of domains all over our file server.

I didn’t really edit them, of course. Software doesn’t work that way. I sucked the files to be altered into memory, concatenated my new code on at the end, killed the original file and then wrote down my new version under the same name. I built the engenu file architecture anticipating that I might want to do things like this.

And that kind of thing makes me a hard sell on the idea of Attitude with a capital A. I definitely believe in working from a positive frame of mind toward positive goals — all based firmly in reason and logic. But it doesn’t matter how many times you say, “I can do it!” — if you don’t actually know how to edit 1,407 files in four minutes. Attitude is nothing without Aptitude.

But Aptitude is nothing without Application. We are all of us buried up to our necks in work we could be doing, and our success at digging ourselves out is entirely a function of how we apply ourselves.

Aristotle said, “We are what we repeatedly do.” For most of my life, I’ve regarded that as being the essence of human character. But there is an interesting question about those 1,407 engenu pages: Where did they come from?

Each one of those engenu folders represents a web page, and many of them are grouped together into web sites. A single-property web site might consist of 20 or more engenu folders. An extensive home search could run to 60 or more folders — 60 or more web pages linked into a hierarchical web site.

There are two people working in this brokerage — Cathleen Collins and myself. We’ve had engenu available for live work for ten months today. And in those ten months, on top of everything else we’ve been doing, we’ve managed to pound out 1,407 unique web pages for our clients.

So I’m changing my bet. Application still comes first with me. To make dinner, you have to want to make dinner and you have to know how to make dinner. But you won’t eat until you actually make dinner. Attitude and Aptitude can make you hunger for success, but only hard work will fill your belly.

You can’t do your best work without wanting to do your best. And you can’t do your best without knowing how to do your best. But no matter how hard you work, you cannot do your best work without combining the best of your will with the best of your mind and the best of your laboring.

It’s the three together — Attitude, Aptitude and Application — that slay dragons and then serve up dragon stew.

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