Friday, October 31, 2014

Grit as a Factor in Employment and College Success

Students enter into college with lots of different hopes and dreams but not all of them finish their programs. Those who make it through despite multiple difficulties have something called grit. That grit that helps someone get through college despite multiple challenges is the same grit that employers should seek out for management positions. 

Whether one is enrolling in an undergraduate programs or was just accepted into a doctoral program grit has a factor in their projected success. Doctoral grit has been associated with GPA, hours students spent working on programs, and student overall success (Cross, 2014). Such students are fully engaged.

The ability to work on long-term projects despite the difficulties of life, challenges people face, and varying stresses is a remarkable trait. It is hard to judge someone’s grit simply by looking at them or completing a quick assessment. Grit is something tied to the very core of personality of the person and their self-belief in achieving their goals. 

Based on psychological assessment grit is associated with self-regulation, focus, and goal setting (Mangan, 2012). Those who show grit have the ability to monitor themselves for improvement, focus on what is important to them, and set appropriate goals. 

Employers sometimes gravitate to hiring from elite higher education institutions where the majority of students have educated parents, adequate finances, strong university support, and the best instructors. On the other end of the scale the world is very different in terms of opportunities and employers should be aware of higher performance when merited.

Those who achieve despite difficult odds have something in their personality beyond just hard work. Grit is not based on a person’s socio-economic background or the type of car they drive. Grit is something that separates the wheat from the shaft through trial by fire. Employers seeking employees who can gain focus, set-goals and achieve them should be given merit for overcoming difficult challenges and excelling. 

Cross, T. (2014). The gritty: grit and non-traditional doctoral student success. Journal of Educators Online, 11 (3). 

Mangan, K. (2012). Traits of the “get it done” personality: laser focus, resilience, and true grit. Chronicle of Higher Education, 58 (43).

Is GDP the Best Measurement of Economic Growth?

Numbers are only representations of ideal states and are in and of themselves subjective to what they measure. A paper by Stow & Stow (2013) discusses some of the fallacies of relying too heavily on Gross Domestic Product (GDP) without considering the deeper meaning of the numbers. Fallacies of judgment can occur when governments adjust their economy to improve upon GDP but don’t look at actual economic activity.

GDP is calculated by adding =C+I+G+NX. Any improvement in consumption (C), Investment (I), Government Spending (G) and Net Exports (NX) would result in an improvement in overall GDP. The numbers could be misleading in the long run and lead to poor policies decisions.

When consumers spend more money they are not necessarily improving total wealth of the nation even though GDP rises. They are simply spending their money, dwindling their savings, buying now instead of investing later, and taking on debt. They may be encouraging organizational profits but not exclusively the wealth of the nation as an entire economic system. 

A similar fallacy can be found in government spending where an increase in expenditures can raise GDP numbers that don’t actually reflect national growth. Spending more today has obvious costs in terms of debt, flexibility, and confidence that are not calculated into the factor. Spending should be in areas that improve overall wealth or reduce liabilities. 

The paper is solid in the sense that numbers are only just numbers and relying on them too heavily can lead to policy mistakes that can be costly down the road. Overreliance on a single number encourages greater government spending and interventionism that can be self-perpetuating as politicians seek to justify new and expanded budgets at the detriment longer term sustainability. Using a battery of different numbers can help provide a greater context more data points to understanding true growth and development. 

Strow, B. & Strow, C. (2013). Gross Actual Product: Why GDP Fosters Increased
Government Spending and Should Be Replaced. The Journal of Private Enterprise, 29(1)

Improving Consumer Confidence and 3.5% GDP Comes with a Warning

The economy took a jump from July to September as Gross Domestic Product (GDP) calculations rose 3.5%. This is great news for those hoping to finish off the last of the recession and move onto more prosperous times. This improvement is the largest in a single quarter since 2003 and parallels higher levels of consumer enthusiasm. Positive news also comes with a warning to redirect focus to balancing budgets, encouraging long-term economic growth, and reducing income disparity.  

To add to this positive news the University of Michigan’s consumer confidence index also jumped to 86.9 in October when compared to 84.6 in September.  With GDP expanding and consumer confidence rising few can argue that the world’s super power isn’t regaining economic ground. 

Measuring economic growth often rests on imperfect numbers such as GDP that can create improper assumptions among decision-makers. GDP is seen as the total market value of the goods and services produced by a nation over a certain period (Kolb, 2008). That number includes all final goods and services generated by economic resources within a nation. 

GDP product doesn’t consider the production of American citizens but any business or entity that works within a nation. It is an important distinction, as the global world can allow companies to do business within the U.S., but be owned by foreigners that still contributing to local growth.

Despite its wide reaching use GDP is not a perfect measurement. There is a fundamental difference between wealth creation and increased production. According to Strow & Strow (2013) GDP can encourage lawmakers to push for increased government spending but ignore wealth creation as a primary function of economic expansion. 

As an imperfect measurement the improvement of GDP and increasing consumer confidence are positive markers for the potential of future growth. Growth years are also times when the strategies of lawmakers and business leaders should also change to make such growth long lasting. Unfortunately, too many wait until another crisis occurs before refreshing their thinking.  

When the economy improves officials sometimes focus on maximizing additional spending to balance old budgets and encourage pet projects. With the ending of unprecedented government asset purchases, historic low inflation, and a few deficit improvements it is important to focus on reasonable budget reduction plans, improving economic trade conditions, and the reduction of income disparity. The underpinnings that lead to growth should not be ignored for short-term budget advantages.

Kolb, R. (2008). Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Encyclopedia of business ethics and society. 

Strow, B. & Strow, C. (2013). Gross actual product: why GDP fosters increased government spending and should be replaced. The Journal of Private Enterprise, 29 (1).

Thursday, October 30, 2014

How We Walk on the Moon by Colter Jacobson-Art Review

A few weekends ago I had the pleasure of attending an art exhibit at the San Diego Museum of Contemporary Art. The exhibit was a collection of sketches and sculptures by Colter Jacobson called This is How We Walk on the Moon. At times I find that looking at art draws greater appreciation for the ability of people to perceive and recreate their world.

Colter does something interesting. He draws two pictures of which one is directly from the photo and the other is made from his memory. This allows for two slightly different types of pictures because memory is imperfect. Notice how the tree changed.

Memory is also like an editable photograph. You have one picture but the way in which we interpret and see a picture will be based on other factors such as our personality. Consider how one person will notice a bird in a picture and the other the tree that eh bird is looking on. this is one reason why art and perception is a unique experience.