Egerton Chang, Contributor
We have all heard, proverbially, about Mr or Mrs Ten Per Cent (anecdotally, a politician or a bureaucrat), who takes 10 per cent off the top for any deal he/she is in a position to influence. While he/she might be successful (for a time), this cannot be a formula for success for the vast majority of us.
My blueprint is very simple. Every one of us must have two or more attributes that we know are much better than the average, maybe even ranking in the top quartile (that is, the top 25 per cent). Whether this is as simple as personal hygiene or friendliness or common sense, celebrate them.
The objective starts with maintaining these advantages. It then aims to bring the other qualities up. The aim is to achieve 10 per cent (that is, a little better) above what we perceive to be the average for each attribute. It doesn't aim to be the best or even in the top 25 per cent of each. Of course, this should be a help, not a hindrance. So that, if one can do better, one should not aim for just this 10 per cent.
Each person sets his/her own version of average. This can be empirically based, as in test scores, or in terms of time, or it could be very subjective, as in how you speak in public or how considerate you are, or how you deal with your better half. How high or how low you set the bar depends on you alone. One would hope, however, that one doesn't cheat and set the bar deliberately low.
This brings to mind a test of sorts that I and other students were subjected to when at McGill University. It was in my MBA behavioural science course. A group of us (probably five to six) were sent to a room. In it was only a peg on the floor with a number of hoops (rings). We were not instructed what to do. We wandered about and then we started to throw the hoops to get them over the peg. Of course, most of us started from a very close range. Then, some of us gradually tried further away from the peg.
After around half-hour, we were called to discuss what we had done with the professor. We had been videoed, and he played it back. The low achievers instinctively went only so far as to make them fairly sure that they would get most, if not all, of the hoops over the peg. The high achievers ventured out further, not being afraid to miss some of the hoops.
So you see, there is really no objective way of setting averages. The point is, however, even if set low, each one tries to do 10 per cent (a little) better.
For the discerning reader, one can see that if the majority followed my advice, the average will eventually be raised so that everyone's target would be lifted again, and so on, and so on. However, you would have got the gist of my formula. And it doesn't matter how you come up with your averages and how imprecise this is.
What my prescription seeks to do is to raise your sights at least a little higher. If all were to accomplish that, wouldn't our lives be much improved? Perhaps we would take a trifle less time to prepare dinner or a bit longer in our lovemaking. I contend that our lives would be better even if we just truly tried.
TRAFFIC TICKETS ONCE MORE
Recently, I received a traffic ticket and sent someone to pay the $3,000 fine before the last date for payment. She was told that they could not accept payment, as the ticket was not dated. Apparently, the officer forgot to date the ticket. Now, there was no way I was going to attempt to contact the officer, as I didn't even know his name. Couldn't the collectorate just collect same? Even if they had put it in a suspense account, I wouldn't have known. How much other money has the collectorate been turning away with these weird, even asinine, rules?
DRIVING WHILE TEXTING - UPDATED
In a column published September 20, 2009, I wrote:
When contacted, Deputy Superintendent Wayne Cameron stated that, at present, the use of a cellphone while driving is not against the law. However, the police team assigned the task of working with the Ministry of Transport and Works on a revised Road Traffic Law has recom-mended that it be outlawed.
"The proposed changes in the Road Traffic Act will soon be tabled in Parliament," DSP Cameron said.
I recently checked with SSP Radcliffe Lewis, who now says, "The Legislation Committee is now fine-tuning its submission, which will go to the parliamentary counsel, then to Cabinet.
"It will definitely go through the entire process and become law within a year," the lawman offered.
With all due respect, however, isn't two years and counting a trifle long for promulgation of a law that is urgently needed?
Here, I must commend how accessible this lawman is. I was positively flabbergasted. I called the police Traffic Department and asked for SSP Lewis. With just a bare minimum of explaining why I wanted to speak to him, the lady asked me if I had his cell number, and then proceeded to provide it to me. With a certain degree of intrepidation, I dialled the number. SSP Lewis was most accommodating, even welcoming, in receiving my call and answering my queries. Wouldn't the world be a better place if we all were this open?
Footnote: Last month's column contained an invitation to email me if you needed to contact my daughter's exemplary maths teacher, my classmate. Well, I passed on his contact details to more than 30 of you. Never knew I would have received so many requests.
PS. Lindon Palmer, the blind gym-goer, who was told he would not walk again and who I wrote about two months ago in 'Seeing by faith; unfinished business', published July 15, 2012, has been awarded a national honour. A former deputy commissioner of police, Mr Palmer will be formally inducted into the Order of Distinction at this year's Heroes Day ceremony.
Egerton Chang is a businessman. Email feedback to email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org.