I like to think.
And there is this question that’s been using much of my brain-power. I began thinking about it after listening to an episode of Seth Godin’s Akimbo – podcast. And I took a long while to figure out the answer for it.
How do you measure status?
Facebook likes, wealth, influence on others, prestige, looks… that’s what people often see as the measures of high status. I don’t mean high status as wanting to be like someone else. But rather that these people you hold in high status have the power to influence your thinking, and therefore your actions.
But what is it that makes us hold them in high status?
None of those typical measures of status appeal to me
Being buzzed by this question I spent one morning deep in the wild adventure land called Wikipedia. Swimming under the information umbrella of “social status”, exploring roles, reputation, popularity, etc. I also had few conversations with people about the topic, but I still wasn’t getting any closer to finding an answer.
I was getting more confused. Have you ever been part of a situation where you don’t quite understand what’s going on? Like that monkey above. Yeah, that’s how I felt.
So I took a step back and thought of people I hold in high status, those whose opinions and thoughts have influence over me. I concluded that they have similar values as I do (as far as I can tell) and they’ve been able to accomplish measures of my vision of success (again, as far as I can tell. With most of these people I am outside looking in).
What do those people I look up to (and therefore have high status) have in common?
– They value family.
– They have wisdom I can learn from. They challenge me with their thinking.
– They have made/are trying to make a positive contribution.
– They have integrity.
– They live life by their own terms. Giving zero fucks what others think they should do.
– The seems like nice people, e.g. they’re not major dickheads.
Two of those narrowed down my list of people: valuing family and not being dickheads. Because there is a lot of ultra-successful people who are as delightful to be around of as the people at the convention for smelly butt holes.
But, I still couldn’t pinpoint how I measure their status
At this point the closest I came to is “freedom”. It seems that these people have freedom to choose. But I can’t be 100% sure about it. And I didn’t know if I can measure that. If I’d value possessions and money, I could just see what physical things these people have. If I’d value Facebook likes I could check their profiles for followers. Measuring freedom gets complicated though.
I also considered measuring their influence on others? Most people I look up to have a platform to speak or write from and can therefore have an influence on others. Even on the society as a whole.
But then again, Adolf Hitler had a huge influence on others. As did Charles Manson. That doesn’t mean I hold either in high status. Nope, Adolf Hitler and Charles Manson shake hands at the convention for smelly butt holes.
So, freedom and influence on others weren’t what I was looking for.
And so, I had another conversation
I presented the same question to yet another person. This time to someone I actually hold in high status (although I still wasn’t clear why). I wasn’t expecting him to answer it for me, but more so to help me find a different perspective from where to view the question.
Conversations I have with this individual always make me think. Or his responses open further questions. This time though, without batting an eyelid he’s response was:
“That’s easy for you. Are you asking me to give you the answer?”
– Um, ok.
“High status people for you are the ones who are curious.”
I measure status by curiosity. Every single person on my list is curious. Their desire to learn and know things is what ties them all together.
And so the answer was in the first sentence of this article. I like to think. And the people I look up to, and therefore have a high status and influence in my world, are the ones that like to think. That doesn’t mean that these people have the answer to every riddle in the universe. But they see the world through a similar lens to mine: full of question marks.
Despite all the thinking I did, the answer came from someone else. It’s nice to have friends who like to think too.
How knowing the high status can help you in life?
You could gravitate towards the company of these people. Finding the people with your high status means finding your tribe. Their company will allow you to grow.