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You’re Part of Zipf’s Law

The pattern defines the best, but don’t be fooled by it

Photo by Anthony Espinosa on Unsplash

This law might be the explanation you’ve waited for, as to why the first place in your life seems to be so apart from the second one, and this same second position seems even farther from the third candidate. Social science embraces the ins and outs about interactions from a great deal of angles across life, and when some math comes into play to explain in terms of numbers the outcome of experiments and data, hidden, mysterious mathematical patterns floating in the waves of another layer.

Take for example the most favorite flavors of ice cream from a broad perspective — if you guessed Vanilla, then you’re right. Chocolate, lemon, strawberry, and the list goes on, which inherently defines the competitors since each flavor is available for free-choosing, which ice cream lovers are grateful for. The more diverse options, the more layers to experience in life, but just a tiny percentage of options get to reach the skies, as the case of Vanilla as you can see below. This pattern happens to be the case for many other fields!

And this scenario slowly sets apart a few pairs of most loved and wanted choices, leaving amateurs and beginners floating at the hands of merciless and wandering waves of marketplaces. The formula behind it holds the label of Zipf’s Law, which you’re in, regardless of whether you’re aware or unaware of this fact.

Gifted with wisdom — some might name it a curse — we build our character-based in patterns of behavior through time, like a tree shielding itself from the outside world with layers and layers of thick bark, as the branches grow stronger to bear fruits, to face the blow of wind, and to reach out farther to bathe its green leaves with the sunlight.

Many are the traits to be aware of, and to this day, I can’t count nor measure the huge stacks of books about my behavior and myself inside of me I haven’t laid a finger on. No one is 100% aware of oneself at all times, but it doesn’t mean you can’t get at least close to a satisfying degree of dealing the cards of life to play to your advantage as often as you’re capable of.

First of all, before getting into this principle you should get familiar with the idea of infinity, simply because the more time goes by, the more we’re approaching the picture of what and borderless and infinite world of services and products looks like. More often than not, we don’t like to choose among too many choices given that we need to apply more energy to make a decision in such a circumstance.

However, when presented with no more than 3 choices, we’re more likely to enjoy the experience of going into more details about the options before us. It becomes enjoyable, while on the flip side, having a thousand ice cream flavors to pick from may be torture.

Persevering these days takes extreme effort to be noticed because we seem to choose the more usual, the most apparent, the easier at hand, the first from our angle of perception.

That’s what Zipf’s Law portrays. A remarkable demand for a few, and an average search for others, and this observation takes place in many fields of social science. With this in mind, alongside the skills you want to polish up during life, it’s helpful to think of where you plan to stand based on the landscape of the “best” life you expect for you.

If a huge demand for your skills is what you’re looking for then devoting years and years of your time is just about what you shouldn’t think twice about doing. Now, let’s say you want your life to play out while having two careers, and based on the principle, the first consideration is that you’ll rarely be among the top best players in the field, which means that having a certain degree of success in your careers is not supposed to have you worrying, even more so when looking at the top performers seem to drag away your balance. It’s just nature and the flow of this universe, always at hand so you shape your life as you prefer.

I’m a young engineer, and high are the chances I won’t be among the top engineers of my field, simply due to the fact that I enjoy writing, playing guitar, and getting as many books in my hands as I can because that’s how I enjoy living, let alone learning languages.

In other words, it’s not about being the best in your field, but about being the best in your own definition of best.

Zipf’s Law is just one pattern pouring itself out on society, but there are many others I’m not aware of yet, and the more we get in touch with these ideas, the more life makes sense, which also keeps you and me from overthinking for no reason, because now we know one more reason why our world is the way it is, making us feel more at ease and aligned with the choices we make.




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Daniel R Silva

Daniel R Silva

Copywriter with engineering background, but not the kind that blurts out, but rather the type that weaves experiences into juicy lasting ideas for you!

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