The Difference in 1%

We don’t speak out enough, us men. I don’t mean that in some kind of activist way; it’s more a realisation that our genetic thirst for knowledge and superiority often pushes us to accept the face value or the first opinion we hear, as being Gospel. Why? Well it’s with this fresh gossip that we seek out the nearest ear to unload the news, claiming our fame for “being-in-the-know”, a throwback perhaps, to our Neanderthal ancestors, and our desire to fulfil, in some small way, the traditional ‘provider’ role.

I remember when I was growing up that there was an unspoken duty for the ‘provider’ to make sacrifices. It was when sacrifices weren’t made, that it all seemed to go to shit. So, as men, we do as our provider did before us, and we make sacrifices, be it as simple as keeping the peace with silence.

I hear the women in uproar, “Women make just as many and larger sacrifices than what men do”. Too true ladies. I agree one hundred per cent, but this isn’t a competition, and I am only trying to make a point. I could never be misogynistic because the women in my life have had too much of a positive impact on me. The point I’m making will be clear soon enough, but for the meantime, let me highlight the significance of the “one per-cent-ers”. They are those processes and events which require barely any extra effort than the easier alternative, but slowly raise us to a better place.

A recent holiday away reminded me of the 1%. Wanting to avoid an overcrowding elevator, I turned to take the stairs instead. “You’ll fit, come on, jump in”. But I couldn’t bring myself to make myself and six others uncomfortable, just because walking three flights of stairs was the alternative.  “I’ll be fine; it will be good for me”. It was then that a relative proceeded to tell me about how he is such an advocate of the “one per-cent-ers”. It was then that the light bulb switched on, and I was reminded of what it was I was actually doing. I was exerting minimal extra energy, but contributing in a small, yet significant way to my overall health and attitude. That barely microscopic sensation of achievement. The one per-cent-er. And it made me think, ‘How many one per-cent-ers do I attempt on a daily basis?’ This is where I became aware of them, all the one per-cent-ers in my life that are available on a daily basis. Walking up escalators, saying ‘NO’ to the chocolate bar on your work break, listening to what an acquaintance has to say with intent and desire, reading a book or magazine on the train instead of listening to music or playing iPhone games. Or sitting down for ten minutes a day to slowly pursue what makes me truly happy. Writing. That’s why this has all come, a new channel to express and begin to fulfil a lifelong goal.

With an appreciation of the power of the one per-cent-er, we can understand ourselves better. Apply it to your work life, home life or love life. Look at all the little things you’ve missed or failed to see in the past. The new friend you’ve made by shooting a quick hello; the employee loyalty you’ve earned by showing a single grain of care; the tightened bond with your child by quickly empathising with their perception of reality. It is the one per-cent-er that makes all the difference in the end, and the entire journey greater throughout.

I suppose now would be the time to make my point, bring it all to a head and explain the lofty, unsubstantiated thesis I opened with.

As men, we don’t speak out enough. Perhaps the generic and preachy nature of this comment will leave me reeling at the missed opportunity to be inspirational, guiding and honest. But a whole bunch of one per-cent-ers has brought me to this point. Men don’t speak out enough, possibly out of indifference, but the most significant one per-cent-er I have seen between men and their partners is silence. It may be the case that I’m being too generic and assuming, but I’m talking from what I’ve seen, the ultimate assumption here is, we don’t ask “Why?” enough. Too often do we sit back and accept, afraid to question what we are told and what we assume.

So, I aim not to tell you there is something wrong with, to fix you or condemn you. I simply aim to challenge you, to urge you to take action two-fold. First, begin acknowledging the one per-cent-ers in your life. I want you to start looking for them, and challenging yourself with them. They make life so much sweeter and fulfilling. Second, start using “Why?” at least 30 times a day. Question anything. Whether it’s why we use a certain word or why we go to work day after day.

Eliminate the silence, and just add “Why?”

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