How and Why Places Attract People – by Gary S. Smolker
Posted by Gary S. Smolker
Top Photograph taken by Gary S. Smolker in Zion National Park, Utah (2014)
Bottom Photograph taken by Gary S. Smolker in a Slot Canyon, in Arizona (2014)
The challenge presented to you in this post is to answer the following questions:
- Do you agree with the following statement made by Henry David Thoreau, “The only people who get anyplace interesting are the people who get lost.”
- Do you agree with the following statement made by Miguel de Unamuno, “Only in solitude do we find ourselves?”
- How do you pick a destination? How do you pick which place to visit, live, work, go out to eat at, hold a meeting at, etc. and which to skip?
- Do you have a sense of who you are?
- Are you engaged in pursuits in which you feel joyful and fully alive?
- Are you working on projects that are meaningful to you, manageable and effectively connected to others?
- Where is your life headed? Have you reflected on how you are doing, how you have done, where you are going and how to proceed?
- Who do you think you are?
- Who are you?
- Do you have an above average sense of humor?
Virtually everyone thinks they have an above average sense of humor.
Of course, that is statistically impossible.
The Relationship between the Environment of A Place and My Interest in Being There
Our personal decisions reflect not only our basic needs and personalities, but also the places and political contexts in which we live our lives.
As a teenager, I was accepted at Cornell University, in Ithaca, New York, and at MIT, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, to pursue a graduate degree.
At the time, my principal residence was in Palm Springs, California and I was an undergraduate attending the Berkeley campus of the University of California in Berkeley, California.
I decided to go to graduate school at Cornell instead of at MIT because
- I was intrigued by the idea of walking through a forest after a snowfall.
- That would not be possible in Cambridge.
- That would be easy to do in Ithaca.
- I interviewed the professors who would be supervising the research I would be conducting as a graduate student.
- I concluded that the professor who would be in charge of my graduate studies at Cornell if I became a graduate student at Cornell was more friendly than the MIT professor who would be in charge of my graduate studies if I went to MIT.
- I like fellowship.
- That made it easy to make my decision.
I go out to eat almost every morning and almost every afternoon.
I choose the particular restaurant I am going to eat breakfast at each morning on the basis of the following criteria
- How much I like the selection of food and dishes being served;
- How much I like the coffee being served;
- Whether Turkish coffee is available;
- How much I like the wait staff;
- The kind and quality of “strangers” I am likely to meet;
- Whether I will be able to read and write there (work there) without being rushed or disturbed by other people.
The Relationship between A Place People Flock to and Measurable Aspects of Personality and Environmental Dispositions
Measurable aspects of personality and environmental dispositions predispose us to liking and flourishing in certain environments.
I was thrilled to read a summary of a study that confirms that people selectively migrate to where there are other people “like” them.
According to Brian R. Little: This study (conducted by Jason Rentfrow at Cambridge and Sam Gosling at the University of Texas, in Austin) has resulted in the creation of maps plotting the distribution of different personalities in different regions throughout North America and Great Britain.
See: Rentfrow, P. J., Gosling, S. D. & Potter, J. (2008). A theory of emergence, persistence, and expression of geographic variation in psychological characteristics. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 3 (5), 339-369.
Which state in the United States do you think has the highest concentration of extraverts – the highest concentration of social outgoing and upbeat persons?
According to statements made by Brian R. Little in his book “Me, Myself, and Us”: It is not Texas New York, or California. It is North Dakota.
What about the disposition to be pleasant and affable? The highest scoring state, once again, is North Dakota.
According to Professor Little: North Dakota and Minnesota are, respectively, the highest and second-highest states on agreeableness, and what is known as “Minnesota nice” is both a stereotypical and objective appraisal of the level of agreeableness that one experiences there.
According to Professor Little: Although at the state level agreeableness is correlated with social engagement, religiosity, and civic-mindedness, it is negatively related to the frequency of going to bars. Low scores on agreeableness are found to be most prevalent in the Northeast cities, to which they might say, “I’ll drink to that.”
Professor Little ties the high concentration of people with “extraversion” and the disposition to be outgoing and social (“agreeableness”) in North Dakota to the oil boom. Little remarks: In 2008 North Dakota struck an oil bonanza centered in the northwest of the state. Although massive oil reserves had been discovered in the 1950s, it wasn’t until new technology, fracking was developed that it became commercially viable. During the period from 2005 to 2009 the oil workforce in North Dakota has gone from just over five thousand in 2005 to over eighteen thousand in 2009. Most of these workers are young males in specialized oil jobs, such as roughnecks, riggers, and roustabouts. They are ambitious, for the most part unconstrained by family ties, and certainly highly extraverted. Indeed, extraversion is one of the personality traits that has driven emigration since the first settlers left the predictability of their homes to explore new possibilities abroad. Extraverts go where the future seems most promising, and the oil fields of North Dakota have been no exception. Emphasis added.
It should be noted that the population surge in towns like Williston, North Dakota, is overwhelmingly male.
Stance Towards Life
Some people believe the essence of human life lies in one’s relationships with others.
Some people have a strong need for physical isolation from stimuli and distraction. They enjoy solitude and dislike extensive contact with others.
Some people believe life is an adventure. The critical commitment in life is to the new, the unique, the untried, and the exciting.
Some people enjoy high-density living and appreciate the unusual and varied stimulation of urban areas.
Some people seek pure environmental experiences, they have a strong appreciation of open space and the preservation of natural resources. They are disposed to appreciate the wonder and beauty of nature. They let “nature” into their lives, and let it shape their life.
Different people are naturally attracted to different kinds of places.
We all have dispositions towards our everyday physical environment.
I keep in mind:
- Different kinds of people have different kinds of environmental personalities.
- Some people enjoy a variety of kinds of experiences, i.e., Danny Kaye.
- All people are different from one another.
- Each person is unique.
- For the most part, we act and behave as we are taught to act through the course of socialization and the learning of cultural codes norms and expectations.
- Different cultures place different emphasis on the importance and acceptability of different styles of behavior.
- The influence of culture is profound and pervasive.
- There are rewards for adhering to cultural scripts and costs for failing to show fidelity to social conventions.
Intrinsic motivation impels creative pursuit.
Relations between our environment, how we behave, what we like, what we dislike, our values and our well-being depend importantly on our cultural background, personality, our immediate physical and emotional needs and biological, social and economic forces.
For a host of reasons there are important differences in our needs for stimulation, especially (a) social stimulation, (b) physical stimulation and (c) mental stimulation.
Each person has his or her own stance towards life.
Danny Kaye’s Stance Towards Life
“Life is a great big canvas. Throw all the paint you can at it.” – Danny Kaye, singer, dancer, actor
Roger Ebert’s Stance Towards Life
“Why do I think reading is so important? It is an effective medium between mind and mind. A medium made only of words does not impose the barrier of any other medium. It is naked and unprotected communication.”
“An honest book store would post the following sign above its ‘self-help’ section: For true self-help, please visit our philosophy, literature, history and science sections, find yourself a good book, read it and think about it.”
“To limit ourselves to the familiar is a crime against our minds.”
“Of what use is freedom of speech to those who fear to offend?”
“In every human society at all times and at all levels, the curious are at the leading edge.”
– Roger Ebert, film critic
Chris Everet’s Stance Towards Life
“You’ve got to take the initiative and play your game. In a decisive set, confidence is the difference.” – Chris Everet, tennis player
Ronald Reagan’s Stance Towards Life
“Surround yourself with the best people you can find, delegate authority and don’t interfere as long as the policy you’ve decided upon is being carried out.” – Ronald Reagan, 40th U.S. president
Frank Capra’s Stance Towards Life
“I always felt, the world cannot fall apart as long as free men see the rainbow, feel the rain, and hear the laugh of a child.” – Frank Capra, movie director
Winston Churchill’s Stance Towards Life
“An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile – hoping it will eat him last.” – Winston Churchill, British prime minister
Virgil’s Stance Towards Life
“Asking questions is giving yourself permission to listen.” – Virgil, poet
Buckminister Fuller’s Stance Towards Life
“There is nothing in a caterpillar that tells you it’s going to be a butterfly.” – Buckminister Fuller, inventor
Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Stance Towards Life
“All life is an experiment. The more experiments the better.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson, poet
Boris Johnson’s Stance Towards Life
“I think the best way to get things done is to not worry about how you are going about or how you are going to come over. As my grandmother used to say, ‘It’s not how you’re doing darling. It’s what you are doing.'” – Boris Johnson, mayor of London
Marcus Aurelius’ Stance Towards Life
“Execute every act of thy life as though it were thy last.” – Marcus Aurelius, Roman Emperor
Marcel Proust’s Stance Towards Life
“The voyage of discovery is not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.” – Marcel Proust, author
A Third Person’s Commentary on the Answer to the Question in this Post “ Why Do People Flock to Certain Places?”
Friends of mine sent me the following answers to the question “Why do people flock to certain places?”:
First Answer Received
“I also decide what atmosphere I’m looking for then food items and ambience. I felt like you were echoing something Margaret Mead might say – ‘Why the Flock do people go to certain places….We are all looking for something.”
Second Answer Received
“My family goes to Carmel at least once a year. We are going there on Thursday for the weekend. We like it because my best friend from high school lives there, who my wife and children (ages 18 and 15) adore; and because our dog can run on the beach and many trails and go to many restaurants with us.
Third Answer Received
“I took my daughter Brandy to New Zealand for highly personal reasons not important in their detail but important in their reasoning. I sought fantasy and joy in the lovely lore of the Lord of the Rings and for the rugged and verdant beauty of this island country. I wanted luxury and whimsy and found it among the lakes, sheep, cows, green grass and primordial forests. Also among the massive mountains and glaciers. I wanted a gentle civilization of quaint English-speaking folk and found all of this and more. It was perfect!”
“Thank you for encouraging my intimate and playful review of New Zealand. I feel as if I was on a new planet there. Intelligent, articulate, physically fit, attractive, gregarious, and kind people everywhere.”
Fourth Answer Received
“Thank you for the query.
“After seeing many of the delights of the world, mostly Europe and the Middle East (but not Asia), we are content to visit children and grandchildren, virtually all in the USA.
“We do occasional trips to Europe and Israel. We have children and grandchildren in the New York area. We visit 3-4 times a year and stay in Manhattan (what my daughter calls the adult Disneyland.)”
Fifth Answer Received
“The culture of the country you are in and the way the place developed really matters and influences your enjoyment. There are so many places that feature beaches, mountains, fine dining, shopping, etc. but how do you pick the place to see and which to skip? A huge difference is how the country is developed.
“A lot of Western countries are not as beautiful as places in say Asia or the Americas, but they are safe, stable and affluent. If being heckled by beggars and con artists in Morocco and Nepal is too disturbing to you, you may instead prefer to see somewhere in Europe.
“I am a firm believer that Europe is one of the ugliest pieces of land in the world, but that it is developed most luxuriously. Those are the decisions you have to make: see staggering beauty in Nepal or avoid chaos in London.
“Semuc Champey in Guatemala is a private Eden few will ever see. It is a limestone pool in the jungle with crystal clear turquoise water. It is paradise. However, it is a long rough ride to the top to get there, a sweaty hike, and the hotel and restaurant developed around it are sub par and designed for survival rather than enjoyment. You have to martyr yourself to experience this Eden on our continent. Do you want to eat crappy food and stay in inconvenient shelter just to see this place? Do you want to take an exhausting car ride and hike?
“There are many places to go, but you will like it more if you’re fascinated by the people there. In a sense, every place is the same, but it is the people who are different and that make the experience.”
Sixth Answer Received
“Dear Gary, I am still not ready to think…. I am on a temporary meltdown vacation trying to catch up with all I’ve left behind to do, but every day I look for your next mail and read everything and am happy to do so.”
My Interpretation and Takeaway from the Six Answers Above
There is such a thing as an “identity niche” in which we find an optimal fit between our interests, our personalities, our aspirations and places.
There is a direct relationship between people, pursuits, projects and places.
Individuals actively seek out a good fit between their personalities, their immediate needs, their pursuits and their environments.
Creativity, Work Ethic, Productivity and Environment
Have you ever seen a sign which says, “Wanted! Unambitious, lazy people with an aversion to commitment.”
Mellow doesn’t really cut it when it comes to applying for a jobs.
There is evidence that people with a Type A personality (people who are time urgent, forceful and competitive) are more productive and can, therefore, reap the benefits of success, particularly in competitive environments.
The conversion of innovative non-traditional ideas into adaptive solutions for challenging problems comes about because highly functioning creative individuals are so engrossed in what they are doing that they are oblivious to everything else.
Don’t be surprised if while on vacation, a highly productive person bounds back to his or her hotel room, after several minutes of being in a wonderful locale, to furtively answer e-mail because without him/her, so he or she says, his/her business will topple.
I am very interested in (a) personality traits of highly functioning creative individuals (b) the steps which enable creative stars to sustain their creative work and thereby transform their potential into action, and (c) the costs and benefits of leading a highly productive creative life, .
I am keenly interested in people who are a tornado of energy and intellectual accomplishment, how they live, their intensity of focus on tasks at hand and what makes them tick.
Creativity, inspiration and the productivity of highly functioning creative individuals flourishes in environments where they will not be disturbed better than in other environments.
How and Why Places Attract People
I believe that the most successful business enterprises stand for something more than the mercantile value of their goods and services.
I believe they give their employees a social reason to come to work, a reason to believe they are making a difference in the world.
I believe to be world-class in any endeavor you must have the right frame of mind.
There are a lot of people with the right tools, but they don’t have drive.
Top performers have an incredible sense of purpose.
You might be physically gifted, and/or mentally gifted, but you don’t have the ability to push yourself and discover your limits, unless you have a passion and desire for whatever you are doing, for whatever your pursuit is.
People want to be part of something bigger than themselves.
I believe standing for something, giving people a reason to believe they are making a difference in the world is the real reason people want to work for companies like Google.
I agree with Peter Thiel that:
- Talented people don’t need to work for you; they have plenty of options.
- You should ask yourself, if you are a founder or CEO of a start-up company: Why would someone join my start-up company when he or she could go to Google for more money and more prestige?
- You’ll attract the employees you need if you can explain why your mission is compelling: not why it’s important in general, but why you’re doing something important that no one else is going to get done. That’s the only thing that can make its importance unique.
- However, even a great mission is not enough. The kind of recruit who would be most engaged as an employee will also wonder: “Are these the kind of people I want to work with?” You should be able to explain why your company is a unique match for him personally. And if you can’t do that, he’s probably not the right match.
- Promise what no others can: the opportunity to do irreplaceable work on a unique problem alongside great people.
Behaviors are expressions of the different motivational sources that energize them.
Everyone must be equally obsessed.
By the way:
- The commonly held narrow concept of intelligence that the verbal and mathematical reasoning skills measured by IQ tests (and SATs) are the sine qua nons of intelligence and/or a predictor of success is wrong.
- This narrow view of intelligence has been throughly debunked by contemporary psychological research.
- Studies have shown that beyond an IQ level of about 120, which is typical of highly functioning professionals, higher levels of IQ are unrelated to creativity, so someone with an IQ of 145 has about an equal chance of being either creative or conventional.
- Those at the very highest level of creativity in their fields are bright, but they are no brighter than their less creative peers.
- Highly creative individuals are not more intelligent than conventional individuals.
- According to Professor Brain R. Little, who has studied such things: In high school those who would become creative innovators were not better students in the conventional sense of getting straight As. In fact, they typically graduated as B students. A frequently found pattern was getting very high grades in courses they identified with and very mediocre grades, if even that, in courses in which they found no sense of connection.
- Being high on conscientiousness – the ability to persist in projects and tasks that require committed pursuit and timely completion – is one of the very best predictors of conventionally defined success.
Each of us possess at least seven measurable intelligences.
The seven intelligences are:
- Intrapersonal (Self-knowledge)
Highly functioning creative people seem to have
- An insatiably curious approach to life, an unrelenting quest for continuous learning, a passion for discovery.
- A commitment to test knowledge through experience, persistence, and a willingness to learn from mistakes.
- A willingness to embrace ambiguity, paradox and uncertainty.
- A working balance in their thoughts (while thinking and contemplating) between science and art, logic and imagination.
- A recognition of and appreciation for the interconnectedness of all things and phenomena.
Highly functioning creative people are interested in thinking for themselves and freeing their minds from limiting habits and preconceptions.
THE BOTTOM LINE OF A CREATIVE ENDEAVOR IS: “It is not what you look at that matters, it is what you see.” – Henry David Thoreau
Do You Know How to See?
For Leonardo da Vinci art and science were directly and completely interconnected and indivisible.
In his Treatise on Painting, he cautions potential adepts: “Those who become enamoured of the art, without having previusly applied to the diligent study of the scientific part of it, may be compared to mariners who put to sea in a ship without rudder or compass and therefore cannot be certain of arriving at the wished for port.”
He also noted, “Be sure you know the structure of all you wish to depict.”
He also urged his students to awaken the power of imagination by staring at stones, smoke, embers, clouds and mud, and to cultivate their ability to see in these mundane forms “the likeness of divine landscapes…and an infinity of things.”
Knowing how place and personality interact enables us to design settings that will enhance our lives and well-beings.
I will write more about the above topics in future posts.
Thank you for being one of the viewers of the Gary S. Smolker Idea Exchange Blog at http://www.garysmolker.wordpress.com.
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Best New Year’s Wishes,
Gary S. Smolker, Publisher
Gary S. Smolker Idea Exchange Blog
Copyright © 2014 by Gary S. Smolker
About Gary S. SmolkerPERSONAL PHILOSOPHY: No enterprise can exist for itself alone. Every successful enterprise ministers to some great need, it performs some great service, not for itself, but for others. Otherwise, it ceases to be profitable and ceases to exist. Imagination, open mindedness and flexibility are the most important factors in unlocking potential. Those who embrace innovation, improvisation, continuous learning, time management, are action oriented, high energy, passionate, creative, purposeful and intense individuals are best equipped to succeed. We all have ideas and the ability to make progress by sharing information and our ideas and also by changing our ideas when appropriate. We should always be on the lookout for teaching and mentoring moments. We hold time like water in our hands; however tightly we clench our fingers, it drips away. But, if it falls on a seed, a seed may grow to become something that will have a positive social impact. PERSONAL INTERESTS: I have a passion to learn, to innovate, to lead, to mentor and to teach. I seek to write things worth reading and want to do things worth writing about. I enjoy (a) driving a fast car, (b) having intense conversations (c) teaching/mentoring, (d) reading and (e) being involved in productive activity. PERSONAL: I believe in cultivating and backing passionate people, innovation, and old fashioned good ideas. I love making human connections and spreading good ideas. I am strongly motivated to achieve in situations in which independence of thought and action are called for. PERSONAL GOALS: I want to live life vibrantly, to be as sharp as a tack until my last breath and to change the world by being me. My personal goal is to be fully engaged in life, to lead by example, to set high standards and to continue to amass firsthand experience and knowledge in all that interests me. PERSONALITY: I love fun and mischief. I relish absurdity. I have an irreverent, facetious and satiric disposition. I dread boredom. I have spent a lifetime reading. I have no bias against people who have lived successful and/or complicated lives. I write to release tension, to get things off my chest. SOCIAL MEDIA: I post articles on the "Gary S. Smolker Idea Exchange" blog at www.garysmolker.wordpress.com, and "Dude's Guide to Women's Shoes" at www.dudesguidetowomensshoes.com. I also post images and comments on Instagram @garyspassion. CONTACT INFORMATION: Gary Smolker, Smolker Law Firm, 16055 Ventura Blvd., Ste 525, Encino, California, 91436-2609, USA. Phone 1-818-788-7290, e-mail GSmolker@aol.com.
Posted on December 27, 2014, in Uncategorized and tagged "A Theory of the Emergence Persistence and Expression of Geographic Variation in Psychological Characteristics, "Me Myself and Us", "Perspectives on Psychological Science, "Treatise on Painting", adult Disneyland, agreeableness, ambitious, applying for jobs, Asia, aspects of personality, assessing the personalities of cities and regions, avoid chaos in London, beautiful places, beggars and con artists, bike, bodily-kinesthetic, Boris Johnson, Brain R. Little, Brian R. Little, Buckminister Fuller, Carmel, Chris Everet, competitive environments, confidence, conscientiousness, creative thinking, creativity, crystal clear turquoise water, cultural codes, cultural norms, cultural scripts, culture, culturual expectations, curious, Danny Kaye, dispositions to everyday physical environments, Eden, emigrants, emigration, enhance health and well-being, environment, environmental dispositions, environmental orientation of an individual, environmental orientations of individuals, environmental personality, Europe, exhausting car ride, explore new possibilities, extraversion, extraverts, family ties, fear to offend, fracking, Frank Capra, freedom of speech, future, genius, go where the future seems most promising, Google, gorgeous country, health and well-being, Henry David Thoreau, highly committed, highly functioning creative individuals, hotel and restaurant designed for survival rather than enjoyment, how place and personality interact, human society, identity, identity niche, imagination, inconvenient shelter, initiative, interpersonal-social, intrapersonal (self-knowledge), irreplaceable work, it is people who make the difference, J. Potter, jobs, jungle, Leonardo da Vinci, Leonardo da Vinci's Treatise on Painting, limestone pool in the jungle, linguistic, logical, London, Manhattan, Marcel Proust, Marcus Aurelius, Margaret Mead, mathematical, mechanical, mellow, meltdown vacation, mental stimulation, Middle East, Miguel Unamudo, Morocco, motivation, motivtional sources, musical, Myself, needs, Nepal, New York Area, North Dakota, obsessed, oil bonanza, oil workforce in North Dakota, outgoing, P. J. Rentfrow, people, people make the difference, people who seek out challenges, personality, Peter Thiel, physical stimulation, place, power of imagination, private Eden, productivity, pshychological characteristics, Ralph Waldo Emerson, reading, reading is an effective medium, Rogert Ebert, Ronald Reagan, S. D. Gosling, Semuc Champey in Guatemala, sense of humor, situational demands, Slot Canyon, Slot Canyon in Arizona USA, social, social conventions, social ecology, social ecosystem, social stimulation, socialization, spatial, staggering beauty in Nepal, stance towards life, stimulation, styles of behavior, take-charge attitude, take-charge individuals, talented people, tastes, temporary meltdown vacation, the Americas, the curious, Type A personality, unambitious lazy people, unique, unique problem, unprotected communication, unrestrained by family ties, upbeat, vacation, values, verbal, Virgil, well being, Western countries, Williston North Dakota, Winston Churchill, work on a unique problem alongside great people, Zion National Park in Utah USA. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.