In essence, this law is a recipe to design our social circle to achieve a fulfilling life.
Divided into 3 groups, each group should account for 33% of the total of our social circles. That creates a distribution that looks like this:
This is a group of people with less expertise in an area than us. These are people that we can help to level up their game.
Whether they are younger or older than us doesn’t matter; we are all beginners at some point.
Usually, our children or junior people at our companies are in this category.
Our duty with this group is to pass on the expertise that we have gained over the years, enabling them to stand on our shoulders and use our legacy as the starting point in their own journey.
The next 33% refers to the people in our social group that have a similar level of expertise to us.
They’re not far behind, nor too far ahead. They’re simply in “the same frequency.”
We call them peers or friends.
This is the level where the majority of people stop when they’re adults.
This is the most important category, and the older that we get, the lesser attention we pay to it.
We tend to forget that as kids, our social circle was solely composed of people with more expertise than us in every single area of life. We were 100% reliant on people with more expertise than us—ﬁrst to survive, and later to learn the skills required to adapt to society.
As we get older, we tend to decrease the percentage of people in this category we associate with, assuming that we already have the expertise and knowledge that we need in a speciﬁc area. However, it is important that we continue to broaden our understandings of our fields by associating with those more advanced than us.
There will always be someone that we can learn from.
In this Upper 33% category, we find people that are 10-15 years ahead of us in the path that we decided to walk.
We call these people “mentors.” And, as I mentioned earlier, age is just a number—we will ﬁnd mentors that are older and younger than us.
Do you want to become better as a programmer? Go ﬁnd the most experienced developer that you can and imitate what they’re doing.
Do you want to have a successful marriage? Go ﬁnd someone who has been happily married for 2 or 3 decades and ask him/her what their secret is. Mentors are not limited to business.
We’ve explained the 3 categories that make up the 33% rule. So far so good, right?
But wait—3 categories of 33% total only 99%. Where’s the remaining 1%?
Tai’s talk misses the last 1%, and this is my contribution to the talk. The remaining 1% belongs to the Anti-Mentors—those folks that we must learn from what NOT TO DO.
If I ask you to remember a few people that you don’t get along with, it’s likely that you’ll be able to come up with a few names very quickly.
They’re not “evil” or “corrupt” people necessarily. They’re not good or bad. They simply remind us of things that go against our own values or living standards.
We need to be aware of these Anti-Mentors in order to avoid in the present the attitudes or habits that, in the future, could lead us to the place they are.
Keep a close eye on them, and this will keep you in check.
So, how is your current social circle distribution? What percentages do you favor the most? What would you change?
Let me know in the comments below!