Wednesday, April 1, 2009

My Growth Formula: Complex Assignments

If you're not growing, you're shrinking.

I am a firm believer in this truth, and it's part of what fuels me every day to learn as much as possible.

This morning, as I listened to Malcom Gladwell's "Outliers"--the supremely talented author reads the book himself--I was struck by his mention of the three elements that add up to work fulfillment.

They are autonomy, complexity, and a relationship between work and reward.

The second piece of that equation, complexity, is what I enjoy most about the ongoing assignment I have with the Chicago chapter of the Urban Land Institute.

Since September, I have had five opportunities to tackle what is (for me, anyway) the complex task of distilling more than an hour's worth of ULI discussion into a cohesive 1,000- to 1,200-word summary. You can read my reports, including the one from last Thursday's session, here.

Having covered government bodies for the better part of two decades, I have a finely tuned ear to what a variety of people say, and how it all fits into the larger web of all that is said. But because ULI talks encompass topics with which I have little familiarity, the process presents an entirely new challenge.

Although ULI gives me two days to file a summary, I usually file my report within six hours. The rapid turn-around isn't as noble as it may seem--I am eager to flesh out the session in writing before the impression of what I just learned fades to gray.

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