The One Percenters
Growth and Decay – Maths has a lot to do with life you know.
Rattling off one-liners and clichés in the middle of the sporting seasons is easy … “Go the extra mile”, “It’s not about the size of the dog in the fight”, “win the little battles”, “the one-percenters make all the difference”, “don’t leave anything in the tank”. I could go on.
Two of my favourite sayings are that one about going the extra mile and the one that says “get out of your comfort zone”. If that means doing just one more thing when you think you can’t go any harder, then the box is ticked. If that means doing one more sit-up when your training schedule has finished, or one more practice question when it’s maths homework time, or maybe even digging out a few more weeds when it’s clearly beer o’clock – that’s the extra mile, the one percent. But something about the one percent thing in another context got me thinking recently, and I couldn’t get it out of my head.
I was eating a packet of chips a little while ago, and on the side of the packet it said “99% fat free”. OK, but it doesn’t take an Einstein to do the math on that – they aren’t fat free, there’s fat in them. Actually, there’s one percent fat in them. There’s lots of things that are fat free, but these tasty morsels are not. That’s almost like one of those bad clichés, “near enough is good enough”. No, near enough isn’t good enough. If they’re not fat free, then they should be allowed to ride on the coattails of it.
That’s the same with the soaps, cleaners and air fresheners. You know the ones. The ads spruik the claim “Kills 99.9% of germs”. I’m going to get a little bit technical now, but firstly, 99.9% isn’t 100%. When it comes to germs, it’s not even close. If all the germs aren’t dead, then obviously there’s still germs left breeding. Germs and bacteria multiply at an exponential rate. Think of germs like a mouse plague. 2 becomes 4, 4 becomes 8, 8 becomes 16, then 32, 64, 128 256, 512, 1024, 2048 … a gazillion little mouses before too long. So, even if the anti-bacterial spray kills almost all of the germs, it didn’t kill all of them, and that small number of germs will become an astronomically large number again in a very short amount of time. When it comes to germs, killing ‘nearly’ all of them isn’t good enough. A classic case of the one-percenters not helping.
Imagine for just a sec that everyone in the world made a commitment to give just one percent extra tomorrow in everything they did. We’re all out of bed one percent earlier (that’s 14 minutes earlier), we’re one percent kinder, one percent more generous, one percent better with our carbon footprint, one percent less on social media (yep, just 14 minutes again), one percent sharper in our eye for detail and one percent more organised. Wow, one percent, what a difference the 7 billion of us would make! Even if you didn’t follow the exponential growth thing in the paragraph above, I’m sure you get the gist of it. Let’s be another one percent better next week, double it the week after and so on.
Now, normally this column is (supposed to be) 600 words, but I reckon I can ‘go the extra mile’ this week, waxing lyrical to churn out a few extra pearls. One percent extra on 600 words is 6 more words. There, made it. Only just.