By Skill and Hard Work

A few days ago, I read Rob Walling's article, Why You Should Re-architect Your Career to Amplify Your Strengths, which explains that we'd be better off spending our time maximizing our strengths instead of fixing our weaknesses. He makes a strong case and applies it to the niche of software development, but it's a good idea in general, too.

Then today I read Lucy Kellaway's announcement of her new motto, Nomina Rutrum Rutrum (which translates to "To Call a Spade a Spade"). In her article, she mentioned a few other great mottos, too. Not only have they stood the test of time, they gain some caché from being in Latin. In her words:

This is partly because it lends an air of sophistication, learning and tradition. But it is also because most people don't have the first idea what it actually means and so have to go to the effort of finding out. Once they have done this, any banality in the actual meaning is camouflaged.

I already loved certain pseudo latin phrases like the names of the websites ars technica and vox machina. Just by having those names the websites hit the ground running with a certain level of sophistication.

I decided it was time for me to adopt a motto too, and one of the classics spoke of a truth that I hold dear. It's the motto of the Blackburn Rovers, and it goes to the heart of what makes a successful endeavor stand out. I'd like to make that motto my own, too. It is:

Arte et Labore

That translates to "By Skill and Hard Work." It jibes with Rob's article because it states that hard work won't get you all the way. One should work with one's strengths and apply their best effort if they want to achieve excellence. I also like the implication that the arte can help the product result in something beautiful. We would do well to have made something both beautiful and excellent.

Photo by localsurfer / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

One comment on "By Skill and Hard Work"

  1. davidd on February 11th, 2010

    Additionally, your motto indirectly supports a view I've long held, and for which I can vouch through personal experience: no amount of hard work will make up for a lack of innate talent.

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