Collaborating and Thriving in the Workplace of the Future

by Diana Drake

We’ve all been hearing about the transformative power of artificial intelligence, particularly tools like ChatGPT and Dall-E 2 creating written content and visuals that could potentially replace existing worker skills. We will have lots more to explore, experience and adapt to with the emerging world of generative AI.

Beyond technology, relationships and teamwork will also define your future of work. Learning to seek out, welcome and embrace diverse ideas and perspectives is a fundamental future workplace skill.  Wharton People Analytics hosted the inaugural Wharton Future of Work Conference, which looked at work trends, and also discussed the very human side of being successful in the workplace, through fostering strengths like better collaboration with people who don’t look or talk like you.

Here are some questions to consider, along with expert perspectives on human behavior in organizations, to start the conversation about becoming engaged, collaborative employees and effective future business leaders.

How do you think about your personal development? Psychologist Carol Dweck joined Angela Duckworth, a professor at both the University of Pennsylvania and the Wharton School, for a discussion on concepts first introduced in Dweck’s book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. People with a growth mindset are often more successful. But what exactly is it? “Mindsets are beliefs people have about their personal qualities, like intelligence and talent,” said Dr. Dweck. “In a fixed mindset, people believe these qualities are just fixed traits. You have a certain amount, and that’s it. In a growth mindset, the belief is that these basic qualities can be developed through effort, good strategies, mentoring, and support and help from others. It just means that everyone has the potential for growth, and you never know in advance how much growth is possible under the right conditions.”

Can you step outside your comfort zone? Renowned author, journalist and podcast host Malcolm Gladwell sat down with organizational psychologist Adam Grant, a Wharton management professor, best-selling author and lauded TED Talk speaker, for a conversation about changing work trends, in particular how effective leadership is going to evolve in the next 10 years.

Gladwell identified discomfort as a step toward more effective diversity-driven decision making in the workplace. “Maybe the enemy of true diversity is the desire of those in charge to be comfortable,” suggested Gladwell. “What we really should be doing in companies is making people comfortable with being uncomfortable…The desire to be comfortable trumps the desire to be good at what we do, the desire to take chances, the desire to experiment. When we don’t listen to people, it’s not because we are actively prejudicial towards them or their type. It’s because someone who is different from me makes me uncomfortable because they make me think about things that I don’t want to think about… I think you need to rehearse being uncomfortable. The next way you are uncomfortable is [going to be different] and you need to be fine with feeling a little weird with what someone is saying or doing.”

“The source of intellectual exploration is your own ability to learn from others and your colleagues.” –Satya Nadella, CEO, Microsoft

Do you have the courage to stand by your convictions? Dr. Grant also spoke with organizational psychologist and former NBA star John Amaechi, who works with business managers to improve performance, about the future of inclusion at work. Employees and executives, urged Amaechi, need to have the courage in the moment to confront incidents of workplace bias, even in the form of casual comments or off-color jokes. Saying nothing is what he describes as weaponized ignorance. “Be thoughtful, be courteous, be really clear what you’ve seen that isn’t okay,” he noted. “Connect people with what they’ve done to the consequence, not the sanction. You’ve done this and it’s had this impact; this harm has been done. That way you can start to move people to a space where they realize that what they do has consequences, even if they don’t feel them.”

Are you part of the data science revolution? You can’t escape it – programming and stats, that is. In all the ways you act, engage and communicate, you will need to have a toolkit of numbers close at hand to support those interactions. Professor Andrea Jones-Rooy from New York University put it like this: “The most important change that has to start right away is that smart, thoughtful, creative, imaginative people with a variety of expertise…all get involved in data science.” Not so keen on stats and programming? Be sure to watch their Future of Work presentation for specific ideas about how to become data-driven and data-informed.

How will you become a lifelong learner? Dr. Grant interviewed Satya Nadella, head of Microsoft who is considered one of the world’s most beloved CEOs. Leaders, said Nadella, must show humility and vulnerability, while also recognizing the power of teaming to enrich thought and experiences. “Think about the source of intellectual exploration. It’s your own ability to learn from others and your colleagues,” observed Nadella. “I always think about the daily routine: the number of people I meet and how I was able to explore new things because of the people and what I learned from them…My dad had this diary he would write in every day: tasks done; people met; ideas generated to act on. The source of the ideas generated to act on are people and also the work you did. That, to me, is a continuous system.”

When reflecting on the themes of the Future of Work conference, Cade Massey, faculty co-director of Wharton’s People Analytics, pointed out the opportunities and challenges at play with technology and human behavior in tomorrow’s workplace. “The individuals and the organizations who are really going to separate themselves going forward are those who can blend data and ideas and wisdom from very different sources,” he observed. “There’s opportunity in collaboration, there’s technology ready to enable it, but there are some personal challenges in pulling it off.”

Dr. Grant leaves you to ponder one more question that will shape your future of work: “How do we identify the dimensions of diversity that are most missing from our interactions and pull those people in?” You can start thinking about and practicing those skills long before you reach the office.

Conversation Starters

Which quote in this article resonates with you most deeply and why?

Do you have a growth mindset or a fixed mindset? How might you nurture a growth mindset before you reach college and the workplace?

How do you answer Dr. Grant’s question: “How do we identify the dimensions of diversity that are most missing from our interactions and pull those people in?” What are some specific ways you plan to become more inclusive in listening and learning from others?

28 comments on “Collaborating and Thriving in the Workplace of the Future

  1. Listening to others and discussing is a great way to get new perspectives on a subject. In future work environments, collaboration will most likely be indispensable to discover new things. In science at least, the era of solo geniuses has ended. A good example of this is one of humanity’s greatest invention, the particle accelerator. There is no single mind behind this device, but rather, a plethora of people who worked hard to together develop this machine, and with it, learn more about our universe.

    Something that is sure is that being able to set differences aside and growing alongside others in a workplace in an indispensable skill. As well as being able to change and learn, because everyone has wonderful things to teach.

    • Alice, I totally agree with you in the fact that many inventions that we see today isn’t just a product of one persons work. It is a combination of ideas and thoughts of many people. Since elementary school I was taught the difference between inventors and innovators. Although, their have been many inventors today and in history, a lot of the tools, gadgets, and ideas is a product of both inventors and innovators that work to make the original product better and more convenient to use. Therefore, the skill of collaborating together is very important in the workplace and just in life in general. And as the old saying goes, “Two heads are better than one.”

    • Alice, I fully agree with you that listening and discussing is a great way to get new perspectives. I think you bring up a good point that collaboration will be a big part of future discover. For me, the way I see this play out in my life is through my sports. I play baseball. There is a huge team and collaboration aspect involved. I’ve been working on becoming a better listener and learner, and I think it will be critical for me in my future.

    • Alice, I fully agree with you that listening, discussing, and sharing ideas is a great way to get new perspectives. I think you bring up a good point that collaboration will be important for future discovery. For me, the way I see this play out in my life is through sports. I play baseball. There is a huge team and collaboration aspect involved. I have been working on becoming a better listener and learner, and I believe this will be critical in my future.

  2. In the contemporary world, individuals’ capability for intellectual exploration becomes the most significant part when attempting to surge productivity and efficiency in working. The essence of intellectual exploration is learning from others through collaboration and better solutions or methods may be discovered due to the mixture of ideas from different spheres. A fixed mindset is the prerequisite to achieving intellectual exploration, referring to individuals’ ability to possess a profound understanding of themselves while acknowledging the fact that everyone has the potential to grow by putting in effort, mentoring, and gaining support from other people. This showcases their motivations to be “discomfortable”, meaning that they are willing to embrace ideas they’re unwilling to think about and consider diverse dimensions of specific events or knowledge. By stepping out of one’s comfort zone to embrace diverse perspectives and ideas from distinct individuals using data science to support, one can use other’s strengths to offset one’s weakness and this drives one’s personal growth and enables one to more effectively finish their work. Furthermore, informing employees of the consequences of their actions instead of punishing them will also force employees to make improvements.

    In this way, I encourage all individuals who have the initiative in furthering their career paths to apply the method of intellectual exploration to their work to increase their productivity and make up for their deficiency in specialized knowledge.

    • You brought up really good points about setting your mind on a goal and striving for it, as well as listening to the input of people around you and taking their ideas and views into account. It’s so important to step out of our comfort zones and be open to new ideas and ways of doing things!

  3. It is important to listen to others and learn from them, because there’s many things one can learn from oter people. In the future, people will collaborate more to accomplish more challenging goals in the future. For example in the field of science, different people have different ideas and knowledge to share and use in order to make the new discoveries and inventions more efficient, and to push the technology forward. Listening and learning from other would help because this will not only generate new ideas and creativity in a group project, but also an individual can expand and deepen their knowledge on the project. Everyone always have some experience and things to share that can benefit others. Therefore, it is useful to listen and learn from other people.

    • We are all stronger together. Humanity was not meant to live alone or to not interact with one another. Well we may think we have all the answers ourselves, we certainly do not. Listening to others requires a certain degree of humility that I think we all need to have. By listening to others we see new perspectives and new ideas that we never could have thought of by ourselves. Listening to others also has the added benefit of improving yourself as well. By listening to others you can learn where you are wrong but also where you are right and you can begin to expand on that. Even in the age of new technologies, individuality and creativity are more important than ever. No technology will ever replace the ingenuity of humans. Since the beginning of time humans have been solving the problems of the world by working together to come up with the solutions. This will never change.

    • I agree, it is integral to listen to others and consider their opinions to grow. It is an interesting and optimistic thought, that people will collaborate more in the future to learn more about science, and I believe it to be true as well. Overall, I agree entirely that we can learn something from everyone. Great response and feedback!

  4. Looking back on my journey, I realize that my involvement in various team sports has shaped me in profound ways. One standout memory takes me back to my 8th-grade year, when our school embarked on a massive construction project, bidding farewell to our beloved soccer field. The only place where we used to train, practice, and ignite our competitive spirits was now reduced to a patch of dirt riddled with uneven holes. Can you imagine the struggle? It was like navigating a minefield just to dribble the ball!

    Mother Nature seemed to conspire against us too. Whenever dark clouds loomed overhead, our dreams of training were mercilessly crushed. The field would transform into a treacherous mud pit, rendering it impossible to even roll the ball, let alone engage in a proper practice session. I still remember what my friend Emily said to my coach.

    “Even Messi cannot score on this soccer field.”

    As a result, our performance as a team suffered greatly. Our ranking among the Guangzhou schools plummeted from first place to a disheartening fourth, leaving us perplexed and demoralized.

    The sad truth was that not only did our individual skills stagnate, but our ability to learn from one another was also stifled. It was as if our potential was trapped within those dilapidated holes and muddy quagmires. Our team cohesion suffered, and our once-promising synergy was replaced by frustration and disappointment. We were a ship adrift in choppy waters, desperately yearning for solid ground beneath our feet. Due to our constant struggle with the muddy terrain, communication took a backseat during our soccer games. Our primary focus shifted from coordinating plays and exchanging crucial information to simply figuring out how to sprint through the mire beneath our feet. Instead of hearing players shouting strategic instructions like “I’ve got number 10!” or “Maintain the 4-4-3 formation!” or even “Beware of number 7’s back-cutting,” all that resonated on the field were the squelching sounds of our own footsteps.

    However, a glimmer of hope emerged during my junior year of high school when our soccer team received a remarkable gift—a brand-new field. Picture this: lush green grass stretching as far as the eye could see, devoid of any treacherous potholes or dirt patches, and advanced stadium floodlights. The mere sight of it brought renewed joy to our faces, reigniting the fire within us. Finally, we could practice, rain or shine, without the fear of balls getting trapped in thick mud.
    With this newfound opportunity, our team dynamic underwent a miraculous transformation. We embraced the spirit of collaboration, tapping into each other’s strengths and pushing one another to new heights. The synergy was electrifying as we weaved our individual skills together into a mesmerizing tapestry of teamwork. And guess what? Our hard work paid off. We swiftly ascended back to the pinnacle of Guangzhou’s soccer scene, reclaiming our rightful position as the number one team.

    But the story doesn’t end there. Against all odds, we emerged as the champions of the APAC tournament, etching our names into the annals of our school’s history for the very first time. It was a triumphant culmination of our collective growth, fueled by the power of collaboration under the right conditions.

    You may wonder how this tale of soccer glory relates to the realm of workspace collaboration. It serves as a powerful reminder of the extraordinary growth that can be achieved when individuals come together in an environment that nurtures their potential. The transformation we experienced on that new soccer field was not limited to the realm of sports. It exemplified the remarkable possibilities that unfold when we harness the power of collaboration in the right setting.
    So, let this story serve as an inspiration—a testament to the transformative effects of teamwork and the incredible heights we can reach when we create the optimal conditions for collaboration.

    When we apply this concept to the context of the workplace, the potential for growth and development expands exponentially. Collaboration in the professional realm has the power to shape individuals into better future learners and leaders. Even seemingly minor factors, such as the environment and conditions we are placed in, can play a significant role in fostering the full benefits of collaboration.

    Drawing from my experiences on the soccer field, I firmly believe that creating an environment conducive to collaboration can make all the difference. Just like the transformation we experienced when we transitioned from a muddy, obstacle-ridden field to a pristine, well-maintained one, the right surroundings can amplify the positive outcomes of collaboration in the workplace. Even subtle differences in our surroundings can inspire creativity, foster teamwork, and ignite the spark of innovation.

    So, one should not underestimate the importance of crafting an environment that promotes collaboration, where individuals can thrive, exchange ideas freely, and leverage their collective strengths. Just as the right conditions on the soccer field propelled us to new heights, the right workplace environment can unlock the full potential of collaboration, enabling individuals to truly excel as learners, leaders, and innovators.

    • Hey Yeonwoo! What a story! I want to pull from a quote from Dr. Dweck when he states, “In a fixed mindset, people believe these qualities are just fixed traits. You have a certain amount, and that’s it. In a growth mindset, the belief is that these basic qualities can be developed through effort, good strategies, mentoring, and support and help from others.” I believe it is important to note all four facets of the growth mindset outlined by Dr. Dweck: effort, good strategies, mentoring, and support and help from others. Though at some point through your season you may have hit a fixed mindset (something along the lines of, “we can’t get better on this field”), no one can say you and your team didn’t implement effort or good strategies. Your team knew the game, and knew how to play it well. Regardless, the team fell from 1st to 4th. Why? You were missing the final two facets of the growth mindset: mentoring and support and help from others. You lost your connection with your teammates, and they with each other. I would argue effort and good strategies can only get you so far; eventually, you won’t be able to grow. Because there will always be someone who knows more than us in most given topics, there is always something for us to learn. Other people are the gifts that just keep giving, so we should do all we can to keep receiving.

  5. In the modern world, although artificial intelligence can improve the productive efficiency, it also causes unemployment. However, there are many distinctions that people can remain being employed. Compared to AI, humans are more flexible. For example, humans can collaborate when required and make a win-win result. Moreover, humans can learn from others and grow their mindset. I completely agree that people are creative and imaginative. They are able to criticize and interpret things subjectively, and different people usually have different ideas.

    • Nobita, you bring up a great point about AI!

      I once asked top business men and women at a well-known consulting firm what they thought about the future of AI in their industry and to what effects they thought it would have. One of them told me that yes, it was highly likely that AI would take over a lot of jobs. She also told me that in their part of the industry, where they worked directly with clients as a personal consultation service, that AI would likely barely affect them.

      Why? Because of the human element of consulting services. Clients liked the assurance and sympathy of real people. Technology (well, at least for now) isn’t able to recreate the humanity, for lack of a better word, of humans.

      Yes, technology has its merits in pure objectivity and logic. Y’know what humans have (and what the article emphasizes)? Diversity, growth — change. Like you said, Nobita, we’re a lot more flexible than technology. We’re able to experience new and old things, we’re able to collaborate, we’re able to provide experiences so diverse and yet so universal. It’s not only the things we experience but also the things we do, the empathy we exhibit that allows for growth in the first place. We, as the article acknowledges, feel discomfort. And yet it is because we can feel discomfort that allows us to learn, grow, be creative. Horror movies had to come from somewhere, after all.

      Could technology one day change and develop as we do? Sure. Maybe it already does, but not in the ways that truly matter. The types of technology that do, in various sci-fi movies and shows, tend to fall towards the category of human.

      Honestly, if humans just put their differences and biases and bigotry aside, if we just got along more than a little bit better, I think the workplace of the future would be bright for people (╹◡◠)

    • I completely agree. AI will just create unemployment which will cause humans to be pushed into a fixed mindset because they will no longer have to strive to learn and the information will just be handed to them.

    • I agree! The human mind has so much more depth and creativity than AI. Different people can collaborate and create new things with other people which is something that AI struggles with. I agree that AI can cause some unemployment, but I also think that there is a limit to how far AI can go, and most things can only be done at the highest quality and efficiency through real humans. AI is not special and can not create new ideas as well as humans. I agree how you said humans are more flexible, I think humans have more potential and people will realize humans are better for most jobs instead of AI.

  6. In the insightful article “Collaborating and Thriving in the Workplace of the Future,” Malcolm Gladwell states, “Maybe the enemy of true diversity is the desire of those in charge to be comfortable.”

    The times are changing, and the workforce with it. The Fourth Industrial Revolution is in full swing, bringing novel technologies like artificial intelligence. In this era of unprecedented technological advances, the significance of diversity and inclusion in workplaces cannot be overstated. Malcolm Gladwell’s perspective, articulated in this thought-provoking quote, encapsulates this truth and calls into focus the barriers we must dismantle to foster a truly inclusive culture.

    Gladwell’s quote struck a chord with me as it compelled me to rethink my understanding of the roadblocks to diversity. From a student’s perspective, this quote has led me to consider the notion of comfort zones and their influence on organizational dynamics. We have all experienced the desire to succumb to the warmth of familiarity, to remain in my comfort zone – that’s human nature. It is a battle against the stagnant air of comfort and a fight to take a new path. But Gladwell’s quote makes me realize that there’s a real cost to this comfort — we miss out on new ideas and diverse perspectives that can yield remarkable outcomes.

    This quote also raises important questions about leadership. As future leaders, we must be prepared to embrace discomfort in order to usher in more diverse, inclusive, and equitable workplaces. It challenges us to question norms and genuinely welcome different viewpoints. More than ever, I realize that it is not merely enough to appreciate diversity in theory; it must be practiced, even if it means breaking the barriers of comfort.

    Gladwell’s insight reminds me of the importance of cultivating a growth mindset, a concept introduced by Carol Dweck and discussed in the same article. This involves embracing the belief that our talents and intelligence can be developed over time, which further supports the call to challenge our comfort zones. I believe this mindset is essential in creating a culture of open-mindedness and embracing discomfort in the pursuit of growth and learning. Discomfort, in essence, becomes not an enemy but a companion on our quest for development.

    The future of work will be a mix of rapidly evolving technology and the timeless human traits of empathy, inclusivity, and continuous learning. As we move forward, we must recognize the inherent discomfort that comes with change and growth. This process starts with shunning the ‘comfort’ that stifles diversity and inclusivity, as Gladwell so astutely points out. As I step into the future, I carry this quote with me as a reminder to not just acknowledge diversity but to actively seek, respect, and celebrate it.

  7. “The desire to be comfortable trumps the desire to be good at what we do, the desire to take chances, the desire to experiment.” quotes Gladwell throughout the discussion regarding the comfort zone. In his words, we need to rehearse being familiar with feeling uncomfortable in order to drive ourselves to find what is truly comfortable, which drives a desire to make effective decision-making in the workplace.

    I deeply agree with this quote and was very surprised by the strong correlation between human desires and workspace effectiveness. In my past viewpoints, I have always regarded expanding my comfort zone as something I should do in order to fit in. I have always been an extrovert, but only around the people I want to hang out with. When I am around people I feel uncomfortable with, I feel obligated to continue playing my role as an outgoing person even though I suffer social anxiety underneath my mask. Moreover, it is something I feel bound to do, as an immigrant, to better fit into the American social culture. But when I did so, under a great amount of pressure and uncomfortableness, I became more aware of exactly where my social bubble is located. Coming from nowhere, a force of trying to explore my further potential arises, just because I endured my uncomfortableness when I tested my boundaries.

    A few weeks ago at the Wharton Global Youth summer program, I experienced the exact uncomfortableness that made me extend my comfort zone. My roommates were vastly different in character compared to me. At the end of the fourth day, after the lecture, they brought back a bunch of cookie dough to attempt baking them using our oven. I was scared that the oven would explode and blow up our dorm, but they were concerned about not inviting enough people for their cookie party. Eventually, with no oven pan or gloves, they managed to pull off a whole tray of cooked cookies. With our dorm door wide open, and many strangers blasting music on their JBL speakers, I went back to my room and locked the door. The loudness and the party noises were something that I would never be involved with. The chaotic feelings in my dorm room made me rather uncomfortable, and lost my sense of belonging. A part of me is deeply conservative and resisted the openness of my roommates.

    But this cultural shock reminded me that, as I am living an independent lifestyle, I should be more open to new exposures. Alas, I opened my door and asked for a cookie—It was undercooked. Nevertheless, I made a huge step to expand my comfort zone by simply opening my door to invite the loudness in my room. It was something that, looking at it now, became a desire to learn more about my community and surroundings.

    Driven by this desire and extending the uncomfortableness to widen my social circles, I hosted a mafia game with people I know from the class. It would be a party of around eleven people where we would close our eyes, when one determines who the mafia is, and will open our eyes and guess who has a special identity. However, as we continued playing, random people no one knew from the party showed up and asked if they could join. Eventually, the lounge room would be filled with people– occupied with loudness and strangers. The original mafia game became segmented into groups of people watching TikToks, playing Monopoly like a true businessman, or poker. Although the situation became something unexpected, my laughter did not stop throughout. The same type of loudness, compared to the cookie event, was no longer uncomfortable, but rather comforting in a way that I realized my comfort zone has grown, just a little bit.

    Reflecting upon this article reminded me of my previous experiences dealing with my comfort zone. I am delighted to learn that the desires I felt from my discomfort can lead me to become a better leader in the workspace. From Gladwell’s words, I’ve realized using the desire to push my boundaries further is important in growing my leadership skills and becoming successful in my business career. From just trying to fit in, to making steps towards creating my own social circles, I believe that I am making progress to become a better self. Beyond the current state, I hope to continue encountering “cookie incidents,” and resolve them by finding a way to break through and find another perspective in uncomfortableness.

  8. The most resonant quotes can vary from person to person depending on the individual’s perspective and experience. But one influential quote says, “Maybe the enemy of true diversity is the desire of those in charge to be comfortable.” This quote from Malcolm Gladwell highlights the challenge of embracing diversity and discomfort to create a more inclusive environment highlighting the need to go beyond comfortable areas to achieve true diversity and cooperation.

    Regarding the growth mindset question, having a growth mindset is generally considered beneficial because it encourages continuous learning, adaptability, and resilience. The concept of a growth mindset described by Carol Dweck suggests that personal characteristics such as intelligence and talent can be developed through efforts, strategies, mentoring, and support from others. Developing a growth mindset before entering college and work involves embracing challenges, emphasizing efforts, learning from failures, seeking feedback, imitating role models and fostering curiosity.

    By cultivating these attitudes and behaviors, individuals can develop a growth mindset that will help them well in both their educational journey and future professional efforts.

    Dr. Grant’s question, “How do we identify the dimensions of diversity that are most missing from our interactions and pull those people in?” evokes critical self-reflection. To promote inclusion, I aim to actively hear and learn their unique perspectives and experiences from people from various backgrounds. Participating in open conversations, participating in diverse groups, and finding opportunities to connect with myself and others are ways to plan to create a more inclusive environment in both my interaction and my future workplace.

  9. “Think about the source of intellectual exploration. It’s your own ability to learn from others and your colleagues,” observed Nadella. “I always think about the daily routine: the number of people I meet and how I was able to explore new things because of the people and what I learned from them.”

    This quote really stood out to me, throughout life, people need to stand up for themselves, fight for what they want, learn to go the extra mile, to be successful. The only ones that get more money, and let’s be real; money pretty much decides your lifestyle when your older, are the ones that use all their resources to the limit and based on what they learned, they make sure it benefits them.

    Now I know that’s a lot, and it probably seems like it makes no sense. Basically, you need to use what you learn from others and attempt to implement it in your daily life. However far you get in life is based on you, what you do, how hard you try, how much you do to make sure that dream becomes a reality.

    Mr. Nadella is a very intellectual man who most likely has gone through this in his life. He is a very successful and smart person who used this strategy to attempt to make himself ahead.

    Everyone wants to get ahead in life. One way or another, everyone can find a way. Using the resources around you will make it easier to reach that goal that you have always wanted to achieve. Achieving the goal might not be easy, but it still is something you should do. People always need some sort of motivation. All you need to do is find it.

    • I think you have very good thoughts. What stuck out to me was how you mentioned the quote on how we learn from those who we are around. You are able to explore new things and benefit from the people you are with, as we have so many experiences in our lives and we do not learn about people, unless we seek to learn from them and ask questions and surround ourselves with them. You are totally right that people need to go the extra mile if you want to be successful. You can not just sit down and stay and hope for there to be change. Change comes from hard work and standing up for what is right as you mentioned. If you want something, you must chase it as you have mentioned and pursue it. You can not hope for it to happen and not do anything.

    • Certainly. I strongly agree with this sentiment. Specifically, where you said, “However far you get in life is based on you, what you do, how hard you try, how much you do to make sure that dream becomes a reality.” This is what I resonated with the most, as I have come to this conclusion in my own life recently. We wield more power to shape our future than we might understand or immediately realize; it is through trial and experience that we see glimpses of our full potential, inspiring us to then go out and pursue it. “People always need some sort of motivation. All you need to do is find it.” Great analysis. You did an amazing job grasping Mr. Nadella’s main point.

  10. As time progresses, the workplace of the future will advance; and with advancements, come challenges. One of these challenges is to incorporate diversity in the workplace, which becomes increasingly difficult due to comfortability.

    As Malcolm Gladwell best elucidates, “ ‘Maybe the enemy of true diversity is the desire of those in charge to be comfortable… What we really should be doing in companies is making people comfortable with being uncomfortable… The desire to be comfortable trumps the desire to be good at what we do, the desire to take chances, the desire to experiment.’”

    This quote particularly speaks to me, as it challenges the preconceived notion that puts comfort in a positive light. Essentially, we can only achieve diversity when we become uncomfortable. Being uncomfortable brings in new perspectives, diverse backgrounds, and rich interactions. Additionally, Gladwell lists various “desires” which are blocked by the feeling of comfort. By labeling them as desires, Gladwell implies that the desire for personal growth is innate nature for humans; we just need to be in uncomfortable situations to find that desire. By doing so, we can personally grow and strive to become efficient future leaders.

    For instance, as someone who had a difficult time talking in public environments in the past, I would not have grown to where I am today without putting the conscious effort to present myself in uncomfortable situations. One event that formed this journey of self-discovery was during my school graduation. The school required some student speakers during the ceremony, and my class was chosen to represent the school. As a result, when the time came to volunteer to speak, I was hesitant at first. Public speaking never came firsthand to me; however, eventually taking upon that opportunity to speak was the best decision I could’ve made in my childhood. It made me realize that I had the courage and desire to take chances and come out of my comfort zone. This desire triumphed over my desire to be comfortable, and through that, I have become more confident in front of crowds.

    That graduation was effectively a catalyst for me, opening a world of opportunities in public speaking at my high school. This event taught me that being uncomfortable is a responsibility that lies on each respective individual. We have to voluntarily put the effort to be uncomfortable in order to grow and truly become comfortable. Although my graduation is much different from a workplace experience, it still reaffirms Gladwell’s claim that being comfortable with being uncomfortable is the first step to true diversity.

    Next, to truly implement diversity in day-to-day interactions, we have to put in the continuous effort to present ourselves in uncomfortable situations. For instance, as I spoke in more public places, I met various people who enhanced my point of view, producing the diverse perspective that I now have. From literary discussions in my ELA class to controversial topics, I have used different perspectives from colleagues to enhance my own ideas. Through this, I have collaborated more effectively with my peers whilst maintaining a level of humility.

    Experimenting and presenting myself in front of others helped me realize that only through uncomfortable situations will we triumph over the adversity of comfort. Comfortability keeps us stuck in a fixed mindset, while having opportunities to be uncomfortable unlocks the potential that is necessary for a future workplace. Thus, I believe that is the art of Gladwell’s quote; the quote presents a process that begins with uncomfortable situations to transform yourself, and using that journey of self-discovery to interact with people from diverse backgrounds and finally achieving diversity in both the workplace and in your mind.

    As our generation becomes future leaders, we have to be able to break barriers of comfort, find diversity, and continue to implement it in the workplace, creating an equitable environment for all. This environment of the future will include rich conversations that will continue to be developed in complexity and variety. That is why as I mature, I will take Gladwell’s quote with me, ensuring that I strive to find and implement diversity in any room I walk in or in any conversation I participate in.

  11. John Amaechi labels the bystanders of failing to hold others accountable as guilty under the notion that “Saying nothing is weaponized ignorance.” In the context of this quote Dr. Grant converses with John Amaechi about the ability to hold one’s convictions of inclusions within a workplace. Amaechi stresses the necessity of maintaining an environment of diversity and a sense of unity despite discomfort,as encouraged by Dr.Grant, to be vital for the future growth and prosperity of the team as well as the individual. Amaechi believes that under the knowledge that workplace bias has occurred, one should aim to courteously upheld one’s convictions and hold the person accountable to the consequences.
    I quite agree with Amaechi’s sentiments on inclusivity as a vital aspect of a business’s capability to grow and make decisions. The more opinions and voices heard are what drives a business away from stagnation and to be capable of possessing perspectives beyond the individual. Though he references workplace environments to corroborate his claims, I noticed that the article points out that John Amaechi was a former NBA star turned organizational psychologist. Such a transition and detail suggests that Amaechi’s time in a different setting has supported his convictions in a business setting. There is much importance in dissuading weaponized ignorance for improvement in not just behind a desk with white-collar employees but also behind a basketball with a team on the court. Where there is a team and not an individual, there is a pattern of success through the voices of varying backgrounds.
    I also support the necessity of accountability when one’s morals are crossed or when a harmful consequence is identified. No matter if the incident, as Amaechi points out, is “in the form of casual comments or off-color jokes,” there is danger in letting such comments fester within an environment and so, responsibility must be enforced,even by a bystander. It is crucial, not just for the sake of upholding an inclusive environment for the longevity of a business but also as an reinforced expression of one’s conviction before the lack of accountability becomes a dangerous norm. This highlights a shift in the responsibility on you as a bystander to empathize with those that are different from you, no matter how uncomfortable you feel. It is up to YOU to take the initiative, to choose to say something or not, to see eye to eye that the other eye harbors the perspective of a human being. After all, the best way to prevent an infection of rejection is to prevent it altogether.
    And so what especially irks me is how in this very quote, Amaechi describes “saying nothing” in response to a wrongful incident when knowing the depths of strife and setback possible as mere… “ignorance”, as merely… being freely blind, as merely… being free of accountability yourself. It’s as if Amaechi is saying that the power to choose whether to stand with your chin up amongst your convictions or to close your eyes to potential harm of another person is a matter of doing the right thing or only being blissfully, woefully ignorant. This is utterly contradictory to his own quote and counterintuitive to the message he wants to spread. The conscious effort to choose to not condemn is just as hurtful, if not potentially more so than the speaker of the incident. John Amaechi encourages and desires bystanders to speak for their convictions, for his convictions, but the labeling of those who do not as ignorant is a reply to Dr. Grant that one cannot stand by their own convictions.
    Saying nothing is much more than weaponized ignorance; It is the treacherous admittance of one’s doubts and cowardice to their own convictions, and a flame that inspires others to wither and say the same words that make no sound.

  12. The comment in this article that grabbed me the most is by Malcolm Gladwell because it addresses fundamental ontology, “Maybe the enemy of true diversity is the desire of those in charge to be comfortable. What we really should be doing in companies is making people comfortable with being uncomfortable.”

    My earliest recollection is from pre-school where I stood petrified and unwilling to talk to the other children. This did not change during my elementary school years. I was constantly aware of eyes on me that weren’t truly there. I was repeatedly told by my teachers to go back out to the playground and that recess was not yet over. No matter what they said, I could not wait for recess to be over so I could go and sit down at my desk and tune out the other students around me. I was uncomfortable and I was absolutely uncomfortable with being uncomfortable. Luckily for me, this was about to change.

    While growing up, I always thought that listening meant being obedient and carrying out instructions and that this somehow subverted my identity and made me subject to the will of another, regardless of their seniority or experience. One day my father explained to me that one needs to listen so as to be coachable and grow and that all people interacting with me are my observers and only an observer can coach. It was then that I realized that my bias would prevent me from gaining value from others in the future. I had to learn to be comfortable with whatever interaction was taking place and gain from it. Just as a fish does not know it is in water until it is pulled out, I realized that I had to be constantly aware of my thoughts and how they were influencing my behavior and perception of others.

    After this paradigm shift resulting from my father’s explanation, I realized that I was driven by fear of being judged and what others might say about how I walk or talk or answer a question posed by my teachers. This was the tip of the iceberg. I dug deeper and realized that my fear of being judged was driven by the fact that I judged others. It was obvious to me that they would also judge me. When I stopped judging others, this fear disappeared. It allowed me to make friends and be outgoing. But this did not come overnight.

    How does one guard against the pre-existing notions in one’s mind that one is not even aware of. The only access I had to my mind was to continuously be aware of my thoughts and how they interfered with being present to the conversation. I realized that I could only be comfortable when I was aware of my own paradigms and my hidden notions that were bringing about that discomfort. It was a muscle I had to rigorously exercise until it became a part of me. I believe that a growth mindset is a subset of an open mindset and awareness is a pre-requisite of an open mindset. In turn, an open mindset includes diversity.

    How do we think about diversity? What is the first thing that comes to mind? Different race, religion, ethnicity? The answer is deeper yet simpler than that. To me, diversity encompasses culture, talent, opinions, paradigms and much more. Yes, the first set of parameters do effect how we think and influence our behavior, yet, it is possible to have people of the same race, religion and ethnicity be totally different in their talents and opinions and sometimes even impediments because of individual influence, upbringing or situations. Identifying the dimensions of diversity is an ongoing task since we are all diverse in so many ways. There is no formula for this other than to listen and be aware.

    I believe that a diverse team is stronger than one that is not. If there is no one to oppose a viewpoint or suggest a different one, the group stagnates. I had the good fortune of being selected to lead a group of students during the Innovation and Startup Culture program. We were bold. We took risks. We had the courage to admit to ourselves that our initial idea and research was not something that would hold in the marketplace, and this gave us the ability to pivot to a different idea. This agility would not have been possible if we were all driven to stick to our original idea now that we were vested. We got out of our comfort zone and to all of us, this was growth. The sense that we could create in the moment and be free from attachment to our ideas was liberating.

    I aim to actively pursue new connections with the intention of learning. A proactive approach is bound to produce more results than a reactive one. Rather than limiting my interactions with groups that I am exposed to in the course of my various activities, I can be a leader and actively create groups and communities that foster diversity. Every interaction is an opportunity for growth.

    • Riyana,
      In terms of the first question about the resonating quote, I would also agree that the quote stated by Malcolm Gladwell about the importance of learning to be in uncomfortable situations, is something very applicable to today’s society and in the education environment. As a child, I felt very similar to the way you describe. Choosing to be alone rather than interacting with other children. But, as I got older I began to look back on all the friendships I created and realized that the people I trusted and called my friends, used to be strangers. And without reaching out and being in uncomfortable situations, I wouldn’t have created any of the relationships I have today.
      I also highly agree with your comment stating, “I realized that I was driven by fear of being judged…”. Fear tends to drive us to act differently from what we actually do. Personally, I tend to be uncomfortable in new situations because I fear being judged by others, like what you’ve said, but also don’t want to make the wrong impression on the group. However, I’ve learned to put that fear behind me, because you’re never gonna know how someone will react if you don’t say anything or participate.
      Overall, I believe that you had a fantastic response to the discussion questions given in the article.

    • The remarks addressed to the questions here are very valid. In a culture where comfort is the ideal it seems as though all we want for ourselves is uniformity. When people push against and challenge our opinions we feel threatened and uncomfortable. I believe we’ve lost sight of the good intentions of criticism in our daily living and instead want to be surrounded by homogeneous thinkers. But your comment saying that groups stagnate if not opposed with different worldviews is such a good point because how can we grow if we aren’t changing? It’s literally impossible to grow if we aren’t challenged with a new way of seeing and thinking by other people. Similarly, understanding that the need to change your initial idea progressed you and your team further in the workplace is such a good example of why we need diversity. If we see diversity as something we need to tread lightly on or fear we lose out on the amazing experience to see the world from different perspectives. These are great answers to the questions and they speak such truth to everyone and have really shown me the importance of growth and diversity among people.

  13. Personally, I think that I have a growth mindset. I think that things can always change and I think God changes us to be more like Him the deeper we go into His word and the harder we pursue a relationship with Him. I think it is important, as Christian, to have a growth mindset knowing that God will use us in ways that we don’t necessarily expect. We are sinful in nature and need to grow to become closer to Him. The quote from this article that resonated with me most deeply was “I think you need to rehearse being uncomfortable.” This quote stood out to me because I think it is so true. Comfort is greatly valued in our society, but it is something that is not always achievable. I think this quote also relates to having a growth mindset. If you are always staying where you are comfortable, then you will never grow; however, if we get used to or rehearse being uncomfortable, we have so much more opportunity to grow!

  14. The discussion on personal development, especially the concept of a growth mindset, resonated with me. The idea that our abilities can be developed through effort, strategies, and support from others is empowering. It shows the potential for growth exists within everyone and encourages continuous learning and improvement.

    The idea of stepping outside one’s comfort zone as a method for effective diversity-driven decision-making was thought-provoking. Malcolm Gladwell’s perspective on discomfort, and the need for companies to create an environment where people are comfortable with being uncomfortable, resonated deeply with me.

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