Excellence fascinates us. People, in any industry or field, who are obsessed with changing things. With breaking down barriers. With doing things differently. Over the last few years others have developed names for them: Game changers. Thought leaders. Disruptors.
We call them The 8 Percent.
The Story Behind The 8 Percent (and how you can be involved!)
What does the 8 Percent mean?
I’ve been an Apple fanatic since my first job out of high school in 1998. I briefly worked at an Apple reseller in the early 2000s as a sales person. This was just post the “Bondi Blue” iMac, when the various colours were coming out. Steve had returned to the company and we were so in love with our brand. SO SO in love. I worked at a store in the Sydney CBD, which meant we got a bit of celebrity traffic. Artists, actors, creatives, disruptors – people I loved.
It was a well known fact that Apple’s penetration of the PC market was 8 Percent. We wore that like a badge of pride. We knew our product was superior. We knew most people didn’t get it. And we knew that the people who DID get it were special. We were part of an elite clique.
These 8 Percent are The Creators. People who go out of their way to buy the thing that no one else is buying. They want to be different (to “Think Different”) – they are the “Crazy Ones”.
Who are The 8 Percent?
Social activist, Malala Yousafzai. US Vogue editor, Anna Wintour. Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg. Apple founder and visionary, Steve Jobs. Chef, Heston Blumenthal. Theoretical physicist, Stephen Hawking. South African musicians, Die Antwoord.
Could these people be any more different?
And yet, they all have one thing in common.
Anna Wintour is often maligned for her obsessive need for perfection. She’s difficult to work for, we hear. Steve Jobs was “an asshole” his ex-employees tell us.
The 8 Percent are hated as much as they’re loved. And their little secret? They really don’t give a damn if you hate them.
Because they don’t need to be liked. They’re too busy expecting more – from themselves and the people around them – than is wholly reasonable. They expect excellence. They push boundaries. They’re always trying to be better than they were yesterday.
Their need for perfection does NOT become an excuse for holding back, for not doing the work. Rather, it drives them to improve constantly.
Money, for them, is merely a by-product of their unwavering and uncompromising commitment to The Work. They value that money gives them the freedom to engage in The Work. And they value that money helps The Work find a larger audience. But “being rich” has never and will never be their goal.
Warren Buffet is a beautiful example of this. While his Work is money – it’s got nothing to do with money. He still lives in the same modest house he did 30 years ago. He lives frugally. Because earning money, to him, is about The Work in precisely the same way creating the perfect fashion magazine is The Work to Anna Wintour.
The 8 Percent are the people who don’t just talk about changing the world – but who actually do. Every great advancement in science, literature, art, business, exploration and every other human endeavour has been accomplished by a member of the 8 Percent.
Although I’ve used examples here of famous people – members of the 8 Percent aren’t always famous. They often rise, in time, to notoriety within their industry. But there are thousands of members of the 8 Percent throughout history whose names you wouldn’t know. Because fame is never the point, even when fame is a part of the package.
All that counts is The Work.
The Work is sacred.
Are you 8 Percent?
The 8 Percent is not a secret society that you have to be born into. There are no barriers of age, wealth, race, sex, sexual orientation, socio-economic status or anything else. It’s not exclusionary. Rather the opposite – the 8 Percent welcome members who are like them. There is no competition – we’re all here to make the world better. And the more of us who are working on that, the easier it becomes.
There is little in this world more meaningful than being engaged in The Work you feel certain you were put on this planet to accomplish.
You’ll know it when you hit it. It’s not exciting. It’s not an adrenaline rush. It’s an overwhelming sense of calm and certainty that THIS is The Work you should be engaged in.
I know a lot of you ARE 8 Percent.
I know a lot of you aspire to being a part of The 8 Percent.
And that will be the focus of The 8 Percent going forward – both to inspire you with stories of other members of The 8 Percent, and to create opportunities for you to tap into your own Work.