One Hundreth Away from Fame

I read an article on the strength of the Finnish schooling system yesterday.  It’s considered as the best in the world with a 4% variance between the best school and the worst school.  How did they achieve that?  They give a lot of focus on the bottom 99% of kids in the classroom and not the top 1%.
I have a fear that as a community we promote the top 1%.  I hear developers being labeled such as rock stars and ninjas.  It’s no different to junior developers and senior developers.  We find all sorts of measures to be in the top 1%:  Twitter follower-count, Facebook friends, LinkedIn connections.  I think such labels and measures create an air of exclusivity and elitism to the detriment of 99% of the people.  NINETY NINE PERCENT !!

My 1% rankings have always been nothing more than a fleeting moment.  Once I won a book prize at school and I got an award for some design in university and meal voucher or two for a job well done.  It was meaningfully great in that context, relative to the others in that context.  But it was perceived as such by a few at that moment in time.

Looking back, I feel sad.  Not because of the scarcity my top 1% ranking, but by the reflection that those fleeting moments did not have lasting value to those that were in that context with me.  I should have made it count more significantly.  These days, I want to do things that touch others meaningfully.  Is my my code worth reading and from which you can learn?  Did our conversation over coffee move us closer to understanding each other?  And I want to be affected similarly too, by 100% of the people, not just the 1%.

Sometimes you’re in the top 1% and sometimes you’re in the bottom 99%.  But you will always be part of the 100%.  I am nothing, yet I am everything.

6 thoughts on “One Hundreth Away from Fame

  1. This is correct! I saw a program on television a while ago. The system they have is really amazing. Small classes. Teachers are merely there to assit and guide. Most of the children do very well in maths and science.Think the key is in small classes and highly qualified teachers. That was the two main elements that stood out. They also allow the children to explain things to each other while the teacher listen and correct if necessary.

  2. Dude, I cannot agree with you more. You’re absolutely right. I hate being referred to as an expert as I’m forever learning new things in this field that I’m supposed to be an expert in.
    The dictionary definition of an expert is: “a person who has a comprehensive and authoritative knowledge of or skill in a particular area”. When is it comprehensive enough to carry the expert label? IMHO, you’re almost never an expert.
    Emil Jung wrote a brilliant somewhat related post: http://emiljung.co.za/?p=7072

  3. I think there is a lot of perceived expertise and most of it is context dependent.In other words, to my mum, we are all computer experts, to me, hardly any of us really is, no matter what others think of us.

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