Archives for posts with tag: First

Almost everything we do is secondary. Not secondary in importance, you understand. Secondary as in it’s been done before, said before, heard before, tried before.

We spend 99% of ourĀ entire school and college lives learning stuff that has already been figured out. We’re getting it second hand and not doing the primary work, the genuinely ground-breaking stuff. Remember that odd time when you stuck your neck out in school or college and wrote what you felt was something new, a product of your independent thought? I bet it was marked wrong, right? You’re treading where thousands of people have gone before, so your new thing is not thought to be right – thought being the operative word.

So much of what we do is secondary. Our working lives are about replicating processes, re-working, recycling, renewing what’s been done before. So little of it is actually new, never done before.

There is a very small number of people doing the primary stuff. Making the law, setting the precedent, inventing a financial mechanism, product, sport, piece of technology, process, creating something new and valuable. The rest of us are studying it, reading it, criticising it, adopting it, using it, benefitting from it, and sometimes improving it.

In the world of doing primary stuff there isĀ failure, mistakes, false dawns, incorrect conclusions, disappointment and a huge amount of wasted time. But also, by an order of magnitude greater, there is fame, fortune, progress, history, satisfaction, gratitude and humility.

What primary stuff are you doing, or trying to do?

This seemingly innocuous post is, as it turns out, a very important post for me, perhaps the most important in a long time. And I don’t mean for me in an ‘in my opinion’ sense; I mean for me personally.

I have a theory. It goes like this. There are leaders. They’re leaders in their field. We see them on screen, we hear about them or listen to them, we read about them. They might be sports people, musicians, business people, artists, inventors politicians, not-for-profit innovators, entrepreneurs. They might be the best at something that we do for leisure. They’re 1 in a 100, maybe more.

Then there are us. The rest of us. We’re the other 99, or 999, making up the overwhelmingly huge majority of the seething mass of humankind. We’re not the best at any one thing, so we don’t get watched, written about or listened to.

Yet almost all the external stimuli in the world come from the 1%, are about the 1%, intended for the consumption of the 99%. It lets us into the world of the 1% and encourages us to strive to join that elite club and leave the world of the also rans behind. More importantly, it’s our consumption of the 1%’s activities that provide the economics for the rich and famous to be rich and famous. The model doesn’t work otherwise.

What are we to do about this? Should we do anything?

This topic has preoccupied me for a long time. Actually, a very long time. For some of that very long time I’ve been turning my thoughts into a book which explores the topic in detail. But for now, I think it’s a fascinating conundrum.