More factors to consider in earning merit

There are important mitigating factors to consider in reference to Stephen Fletcher’s column of Aug. 7 “Trust those who earned their merit.” He draws a distinction between those who have an education – from a prestigious university, no less, and those with “vision and achievement” (yes, we know where U.S. jobs went) who simply act.

Not so simple. It’s the influence of the times, privilege, and propinquity. Not mentioned in the piece are the supporting structures of the circumstances of one’s birth, luck, one’s country’s government, world affairs, and nearness. Any, or all of these, at least to some degree, come together to produce, possibly, a doer.

It goes without saying, of course, that there are exceptions – but much is the luck of the draw. Yes, some people may be educated “beyond their intelligence,” and a few are even school dropouts. Others, out of the blue, or with experience become leaders, as Fletcher suggests. But, wait. As Malcolm Gladwell would ask, “Is this really how it is?”

Gladwell uses Bill Gates as an example of an achiever, or leader. No doubt at all Bill Gates is talented (and a college grad) and he was on the scene with his advantages at the right time. Young Gates just happened to grow up in a university town that had a computer lab. He would get up in the wee hours of the night, walk over to the vacant lab where he was permitted – not just like any kid off the street – to use a computer, or the computer. There Gates, in time, fulfilled what Gladwell calls the “10,000-hours” rule – or, the number of hours of work, use, practice it takes to become really good at something.

When the opportunity arose, Gates, already having achieved mastery, was ready to seize the day.

Elaine Thompson