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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