Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Outliers and Meaningful Work


Haley Scholars Fall 2012 Reading Groups   

In his chapter “The Lessons of Joe Flom,” Malcolm Gladwell traces the backgrounds and experiences of a select group of people whose “world -- culture and generation and family history – gave them the greatest opportunities.” In particular, he pays close attention to the importance of ethnic background, demographic luck, and meaningful work. Given my remark that “hard work is often overrated” in the comments section of our last post, I was especially intrigued with Gladwell's alternative or refined consideration of work.

According to Gladwell, meaningful work is characterized by
1) autonomy – processes that yield senses of independence;
2) complexity – work that engages the mind and imagination;
3) a connection between effort and reward – a noticeable return on the uses of time and energy.

So rather than champion “hard work,” Gladwell makes distinctions and highlights “meaningful work,” indicating that such work heightens people's possibilities for success when they find their efforts freeing, thought-provoking, and fulfilling.

What determining factor -- ethnic background, demographic luck, or meaningful work -- did you find most compelling? Why?

14 comments:

Robert F said...

Meaningful work seemed to be most compelling. If the work you're doing is not meaningful you wont be able to enjoy your career. Going to work will be a drag. If the work that you do is actually meaningful then you can improve and find more innovative ideas making things more exciting. The work that you do will not seem like work because you enjoy what you are doing and getting paid at the same time.

Jamal Sims said...

Growing up in a demographic area where the education system wasn't so great, I find demographic luck to be the most compelling. When a student is not provided with a solid education beginning at a young age, it becomes harder for them to excel. From my experience, moving into a demographic area where the education system was considerably better provided me with a better opportunity in enhancing my education. Therefore, when Gladwell highlights "meaningful work", I totally agreed with him because when an individual is provided with the necessary tools educational-wise, it makes it easier for them to succeed and find the efforts "freeing, thought-provoking, and fulfilling".

Jeremy H. said...

I find demographic luck to be the most compelling point that Gladwell made. I say this because public school systems where I'm from are funded by the residents of the neighborhood, which makes these schools poorly funded and gives these kids very little chance for success. Other more prosperous communities have better schools and give their students the best chances to become successful. Some people are just lucky enough to be in these highly funded schools.
Jeremy H.

Terry Taborn said...

I find that demographic luck is a big factor in determining a student's future success. A larger school that is in a big city will have more money. More money means better teachers and better teachers mean a better education. The luck part comes in by whether or not this school is in a good neighborhood or not. A bigger school in a nicer neighborhood will be better funded than a school in a bad neighborhood.

Kayleigh E. said...

I found demographic luck to be very interesting. Most people do not realize how much where you live affects them. Where you live defines the experiences and oppurtunities you have. It also defines the people you meet. Gladwell states that no one becomes successful without help. If you live in an area with no opportunity then you will not get that help. Also, it is not just where you live but where you go to school. It makes me think about jobs and interships. If you have connections to the right people you can get the best jobs and interships. You meet these connections through school majority of the time.

Sandra Nnoung said...

I found demographic luck to be the most compelling point because it is true. The ability to fund a school determines the type of education students get at that institution. Schools in richer districts with more funding have the means to give their students a better education. The students who grow up in areas with less money do not have the same resources. It is harder for them to go farther in school because they do not get as much motivation from the environment they are in. Growing up around people who value education and encourage kids to go to school instills that way of thinking in their minds.

Joneshia Y. said...

I found demographic luck to be the most compelling factor. Students from richly funded schools with better teachers are more likely to be motivated to want to succeed, compared with students from inner-city public schools that are poorly funded and teachers who don't care about the students' education and only care about getting their next check. This alone can be a major determining factor in how well a student will succeed.

Trinity Foree said...

While arguments for each of the determining factors have merit, I feel "meaningful work" is the most compelling. Meaningful work has a sort of intrinsic value that can inspire people to achieve even greater. It is proven that people are happier dong things they love.

Stelisa Johnson said...

Honestly, I found both demographic luck and meaningful work to be compelling factors. I believe that Gladwell made interesting points that focused on how just by being categorized into a particular section of the population you have some type of luck. From Gladwell’s explanation I interpret “demographic luck” as being fortunate enough to have an advantage at that second of time. I believe that this is true and can be seen in real life instances. For example, a business is located in a primarily Hispanic neighborhood. The business owner speaks only English as well as his current employees. Majority of his customers understand little, to no English. The owner doesn’t want to lose business so he goes on a search to hire Bilingual employees. Since these people may have this specific demographic they are going to get hired because they have an advantage at this moment of time. Although, demographic luck can be good for a group of people, it may not always work out to that population’s advantage. This idea is similar to the example given about school systems. Such as, if you are in area surrounded by wealthy people, there is a greater chance that the educational institutions are going to be better. For the reason being that the area has the funding to pay teachers of higher quality to teach their kids. While other areas do not so they receive a poor education. This is ALL due to demographic luck

Jenee' B. said...

I think that meaningful work was the most compelling. I think that it has a huge part in motivating people to try harder and be thankful for all of the opportunities they have. When people do that they often get farther in life and become much more successful. Seeing their parents work hard and do meaningful work as children, taught the best lawyers to do the same as they grew older.

Malia Gamble said...

To me demographic luck was the most compelling point Gladwell made. His belief that where you live and when you were born helps to determine your success intrigues me because I agree with it. The chance for better schooling and jobs that someone born in a decade with less births than the one before it has is greater simply because there is less competition between people. If there is a smaller number of children in a school district, there is more funding for better books and teachers since the money doesn't have to be split so many ways. The teaching would be more one-on-one resulting in students understanding better. After school there would be a smaller number of people looking for jobs. This would lead to less competition and make it easier to move up in jobs leading to a larger success rate.
Malia G

Jhalia Barber said...

I believe that meaningful work is most compelling. Without working hard, you cannot succeed in life while learning valuable life lessons. I can relate to this factor on a personal level which is why it compels me the most. Working hard is the most important factor (in my opinion) to success.

Conradette King said...

I feel that meaningful work is the most compelling determining factor for success. I believe that success cannot truly be met if a person does not feel that what they are doing is meaningful. Doing something that one does not have a passion for will only led to regret and lack of interest.

Ashley Bass said...

aI feel that Meaningful Work is the most compelling factor for success, because if what you're doing does not mean anything to you then you won't work hard for it and it will show in your work that you don't care about it. If you have meanng in your work then people will notice it. No one is going to care about your work, if you dont care about it yourself.