AESL: Attitude + Effort + Skill + Luck

The AESL Story

AESL (pronounced “A-Sill”) is an acronym for Attitude, Effort, Skill & Luck. (A.E.S.L.).  It started as a parenting idea as Edward tried to prepare his daughters for life in elementary school.  He found the AESL concept to be useful in his own daily and professional life...0ne of the many, many examples where his children changed his life more then he changed theirs!

Attitude, Effort, Skill & Luck (AESL) are the essential components of success; any success.  Successes just don’t happen. Success requires:

Success requires these four attributes (Attitude, Effort, Skill & Luck) all the time.  A reliance on any one at the expense of the others is unlikely to yield success, let alone consistent long-term success.

While Attitude, Effort, Skill & Luck are essential ingredients of success, they are not equal ingredients.  Attitude is the most important, Effort is second, Skill is third and Luck is the smallest ingredient.  Think of a layered triangle: Attitude is the base, Effort is the second layer, and Skill comes next with Luck as the nose-cone tip.  Each smaller than one below it, but building upon each other. This hierarchical triangle, tipped on its side to form a pennant is a key component of AESL’s logo. 

The reason for this layering of attributes comes from our belief that having a positive, constructive, open Attitude is the most important element of being successful.  A bad mood affects others in a negative way as well inhibits one’s ability to strive, achieve or put in the needed effort.  A pessimistic attitude kills success.  Conversely, a good attitude is infectious, it picks people up, and it motivates them and oneself.  It allows for learning and growth.  Think of the positive attitude ("I think I can") of the Little Engine that could in the childhood story? Think how important that first smile in a meeting sets a good tone.  Thus, a positive Attitude is the foundation of success, as well as essential to overcoming a setback or difficulty.

Effort is the second most important component of success.  Effort is the act of physically or mentally doing something. Effort can be practice, training, exertion, diligence or preparation; or it can be the discipline or self-restraint to not do something.  Effort can be huge or very small; it can be simple, easy and obvious; it can be gratifying and enjoyable, as in a job well done.  But Effort often is hard, tedious, boring, repetitive, time-consuming; it can be sweaty, dirty or painful or just routine and hard-earned. 

Combined good Attitude and good Effort can and often does lead to success; which is why they are the two most important ingredients of AESL.  But, by themselves they are unlikely to yield frequent, consistent and long-term success…that takes the other two AESL ingredients: Skill and Luck.

Skill means being good at something, anything, but preferably something that you want to be good at and that yields benefits, both personal and professional.  The Skill may be a God-given physical capability like the ability to throw a ball fast or create incredible music or think about things in ways that few others can.  Or much more often, the Skill is developed and nurtured through Effort…as in practice, experience and focus.  In fact, even those with special gifted skills require years of practice to truly refine their skill and excel.

A person with good Attitude, good Effort and good Skill can be very successful, but without good Luck maybe not.  Life is capricious and fickle.  Events out of our control occur and affect us all the time.  Sometimes we are aware of them…like the gifted athlete who has spent years refining their skill to get to the top of their sport…only to suffer a career ending injury.  That’s bad luck.  Or, the actor being at the right place at the right time and “discovered” for the career-making role.  That’s good luck.  Or, the inspiration of a breakthrough idea.  Or, it rains on that special picnic you had planned with that special someone.  Or, your lottery ticket wins big.

But, sometimes events outside your consciousness occur that shape or affect your future; the so-called Butterfly Affect.

The point is that Luck happens...things occur that are outside of our control affect us all the time, for good or ill.  That may be Luck or it may be karma, good fortune or the Grace of God.  How we prepare for and react when Luck happens can determine whether we ovecome the setback or take advantage the oppotunity.

While, Attitude, Effort, Skill & Luck are different and unequal ingredients of success, they are all necessary ingredients for success.  Ignoring one or relying too much on one will undermine success.  It’s like baking: miss an ingredient or use too much and the final cake is unlikely to be very good.  Just as importantly, Attitude, Effort, Skill & Luck reinforce each:  good attitude leads to good effort which increases one’s skill which helps make lucky things happen.

This is the AESL story.  It is what guides our team and are the attributes we bring to help our clients be successful.


Edward A. Garvey
Regulatory & Policy Strategist

32 Lawton Street
Saint Paul, Minnesota

(651) 335-2501
Email