Jun 2013

(Based on a list I was named in)


“What you do in this world is a matter of no consequence. The question is what can you make people believe you have done.”

– Arthur Conan Doyle, A Study in Scarlet


“You matter,’ Mama repeated. ‘Not because of whose son you are. Because of who you are. You’re as important as every other human being that ever was or ever will be. Everyone matters.”

– Kimberley Brubaker Bradley


How do you motivate a group of ambitious competitive people?

The answer is you create a list measuring an arbitrary often meaningless metric and then rank them by this heuristic so they begin to derive value and self-worth from their position on the list. So they compete with each other for a higher position to increase their perceived self-worth.

The heuristic can be anything. The amount of time spent on something, amount of sales brought in, amount of money a person has. It’s largely not relevant. But you don’t often see lists measuring how happy someone is? Because happiness has no output. The act of grading serves as the motivation to increase output by the people being graded.

What starts to become dangerous is when the object of the list creates something negative. Or when it provides incentive for someone to do something dishonest for fear of losing their position on it.

That’s why Rich Lists or Awards or Influence Lists work so well. Because everyone on it thinks it’s important and by extension they are important because they’re on it. Definitely more important than those who didn’t make the list otherwise they too would be on the list.

If there is one thing you can count on its that people are so discontent with themselves they will let someone else rank their self-worth and hold themselves to a set of rules they didn’t even make.