Are We Currently Living in a ‘Naive Meritocracy’ Era?

Are We Currently Living in a ‘Naive Meritocracy’ Era?

What is one of the main goals of modern existence? Probably to desire to become rich! Being wealthy is one of  the most praised priorities in life, a goal we all would like to achieve sooner or later throughout our existence. Being wealthy might get misunderstood too, as it can be seen as just getting loads of money in our bank accounts and spend it with much of a nonsense.

If we think of how the world (at least the Western part of it) is set, we find the widespread belief that it is through our merits and hard work we will be rewarded at some point. So it makes perfect sense that the more we focus on our careers, the bigger that reward will be.

It is far from naïveté or selfishness feeling the belief that money is the ultimate goal of our professional careers. Money brings opportunities and makes us feel comfortable so we can relax and expand our limits. Without it, everything is reduced down to survival basis, which in the end makes us stop exploiting the best person we can become.

The question here is: What makes someone rich or poor? And is it talent or intelligent all you need to become wealthy or there are other factors that directly impact our success?

“In essence, much of what separates rich people and poor people is a sense of being personally responsible for one’s own fate and an unwillingness to accept defeat in the face of failure. Individuals who enjoy wealth also are willing to learn and take help, and they are able to look at life in the long-term rather than being swept away by the emotions of the moment.”

Those words, transcribed by Inc. writer Wanda Thibodeaux, get to the point. To become a successful -and wealthy- person we just need to have a essentially positive behaviour when we encounter both problems and opportunities. It has nothing to do with high doses of talent or luck.

It might sound a simple answer, but a recent research, called Talent vs Luck: the role of randomness in success and failure supports that talent itself or knowledge is not enough to become wealthy and successful. There is something else that is needed, with, of course, a bit of the fortune goddess -or external help- on our side.

“The largely dominant meritocratic paradigm of highly competitive Western cultures is rooted on the belief that success is due mainly, if not exclusively, to personal qualities such as talent, intelligence, skills, smartness, efforts, wilfulness, hard work or risk taking. Sometimes, we are willing to admit that a certain degree of luck could also play a role in achieving significant material success,” they state in their insight.

The study, conducted by Alessandro Pluchino of the University of Catania in Italy and his colleagues created a computer model of talent.  Using the model and “by adopting an agent-based approach”, they tried to “quantify realistically the role of luck and talent in successful careers”.

So they looked at people over a 40-year period, then, and following a mathematical method they discerned what sort of things had happened to them, and compared that with how wealthy they had become.

The result was expected and shocking at the same time: they discovered what is known as the conventional distribution of wealth – 20 percent of humanity enjoys 80 percent of the wealth. Plus, they discovered that “the maximum success never coincides with the maximum talent, and vice-versa.”

In their conclusive remarks they dove into the pool as they stated that “an important result of the simulations is that the most successful agents are almost never the most talented ones. The model shows the importance, very frequently underestimated, of lucky events in determining the final level of individual success. Since rewards and resources are usually given to those that have already reached a high level of success, mistakenly considered as a measure of competence/talent, this result is even a more harmful disincentive, causing a lack of opportunities for the most talented ones.”

And they sent out a warning risk of entering a ”naive meritocracy”, An unbalanced system which underestimates the role of randomness among the determinants of success, often failing to give honours and rewards to the most competent people.

This is actually a growing concern that should be on the table and therefore “being discussed more efficient strategies able to counterbalance the unpredictable role of luck and give more opportunities and resources to the most talented ones – a purpose that we think should be the goal of a real meritocratic approach.”

The study also concluded that sometimes you just don’t  seek to be wealthy, but prefer a life that makes you happier. By the end of the day, what is wealth, success and happiness is a profound personal question, which one of us is trying to answer through the course of our lives.