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.