Posts Tagged ‘non-conformity’

Risk-taking

October 16th, 2012 by Briana Cummings

If there’s one thing that the world’s most successful entrepreneurs and reformers have in common, it is an unusually high tolerance — or even appetite — for risk. For example, Jeff  Bezos says he makes decisions according to a “regret minimization framework.”  As in, do whatever it is you think will cause the least regret when you’re 80 years old and looking back at your life.  In his case, that meant taking a huge risk and starting Amazon. Sometimes there’s nothing better than a good quote to steel up your resolve. So I’ve collected some here that have given me encouragement: Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. Mark Twain Security is mostly a […]

I keep reading and hearing that the things I want to do as a lawyer are impossible: Open my own practice straight out of law school. Offer affordable legal services to low- and middle-income clients while supporting my heavily debt-laden self financially. Raise a family while maintaining a thriving career. Any number of things, really. It is sometimes hard not to listen. Even if I shrug it off at a conscious level, deep down in my bones is a terror that keeps me up at night. It is all well and good to go through law school and job interviews talking about one’s interest in providing legal services to people who need them blablabla. But when you sit down to try to define concrete actionable steps toward that goal, you start to realize you have no idea what you are doing. But I—you—can’t listen. Don’t listen to the voices that say […]

In his book The Global Achievement Gap, educator Tony Wagner identifies the core competencies everyone should master by the end of high school: Critical thinking and problem solving (the ability to ask the right questions) Collaboration across networks and leading by influence Agility and adaptability Initiative and entrepreneurialism Accessing and analyzing information Effective written and oral communication Curiosity and imagination How to teach these competencies? Perhaps by following the mantra, “First do no harm.” In another book, Creating Innovators, Wagner identifies five ways in which current educational practices actively undermine the development of these competencies: By focusing on individual achievement (e.g., GPA), schools fail to promote collaboration skills. By rewarding specialization, which hinders innovation. Wagner says the director of talent at Google once told him, “If there’s one thing that educators need to understand, it’s that you can neither understand nor solve problems within the context and bright lines of subject content.” By penalizing mistakes, which makes students risk-averse. […]

A study of our academic elite In an Atlantic Monthly article from 2001, “The Organization Kid,” David Brooks writes about going to Princeton University to learn about “what the young people who are going to be running our country in a few decades are like.”What Brooks found with respect to the over-structured lives of the Princeton undergraduates he spoke to is very close to how I remember my undergraduate classmates at Harvard from 1999 to 2003: I asked several students to describe their daily schedules, and their replies sounded like a session of Future Workaholics of America: crew practice at dawn, classes in the morning, resident-adviser duty, lunch, study groups, classes in the afternoon, tutoring disadvantaged kids in Trenton, a cappella practice, dinner, study, science lab, prayer session, hit the StairMaster, study a few hours more. One young man told me that he had to schedule appointment times for chatting with his friends. No time […]