The (imaginary) “Big Fish” vs “Small Fish” divide…

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Sep 10, 2009 in Randomness

Earlier this morning I was talking with a section-mate about yesterday’s entry on my IRS mess, and he brought up my loss in the 1L SBA Rep election to ask why I wasn’t bothered about it — especially given my deep-seated competitiveness streak.

There are a few reasons why I wasn’t surprised or upset:  above all I didn’t earn the victory (my opponents campaigned harder than I did); I think both of the winners are competent and will do a great job; and I have a habit of failing first-time campaigns, losing races at NC State both pre-dropout and post-return.1

But I’m also still at least a marginally well-sized “fish” in the law school aquarium (at least until April 30th :) ).

People seem to have an almost pathological habit of trying to sort and rank the folks around them.  It’s part of why we have law school rankings in the first place, even though they’re not exactly paragons of logical selection.

The problem is that creating a fictitious pecking order in law school ignores a fundamental reality of human life — everyone’s better at something than someone else.

Take the Gang of Eight as an example.  Without going through everyone in total detail, in our group we’ve got a former Student Body President, a member of the armed services, a musician, and a business owner.  Multiple people have multiple degrees apiece.  Several of them play several sports.  And as far as I know all of them had a higher college GPA than I did.

So who are the “big fish” in the group?  It depends.  If you need to lobby a politician, talk to DMoff for tips.  Write a love song?  Rockstar’s your guy.  Can’t fix your broken Microsoft Windows installation?  My CSC degree and I will be glad to help you (or you could just do us both a favor and buy a Mac ;)).

And remember we’re just 8 people out of a 1L class of nearly 200.  That’s not even getting into the academic über-achievers, and the different subjects where each of them will have their own respective strengths.

I consider myself fortunate that the North Carolina Central University School of Law doesn’t seem to have the “gunner” types you constantly hear about at places like LSD.  But even if we did, those types of folks inevitably lose out to everyone else because they have a fundamentally wrong zero-sum view of the world.  There are a *lot* of different skills and experiences that carry weight out in the “real world,” and no one will ever significantly outperform everyone else on more than a couple of them at most.

And if anyone significantly underperformed everyone else on those same metrics, odds are they’re not in law school.

So instead of stressing about my class rank or fuming over an election loss, I’d much rather support my classmates and enjoy being in the presence of people who do things better than I do.

Besides, I know I’m usually the first one they’ll call when their computers gets hit by the latest virus ;)  Have a great night everybody! :D

  1. In the post-return case, being the 4th place finisher in a 3-seat Student Senate race — losing to a guy who didn’t even campaign.  And who, ironically, had become one of my best friends and biggest supporters when I ran for Student Senate President the next year. []

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