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Posted on: Saturday, 06 November 2010 by Rajiv Popat

The guy who used to score A+ at all his exams in high school bumps into you at a shopping mall and wants to "catch up" with you. He wants to know where you are working. You answer.  You tell him that It is a small startup based out of the valley. He wants to know how many employees your organization employs and cringes at any number less than a thousand. It does not come as a surprise to you though.

You already knew that you had just bumped into a lousy moron who was going to judge your success based on your organizations success and your organizations success based on it's head body count. You knew it the moment you saw this gentleman and your mind raced back to gather recollections of your high school days and your interactions with him.

The mentality is mostly a reminiscent of the individuals upbringing. You instantly dive into a flashback. This fine man in front of me is a classic example of a family and a school that succeeded in turning a perfectly smart child into a lousy moron.

When we (me and my brother) were young, grades and marks were not a huge deal in the family. Of course we were expected to fair well, but our parents did not lower their perception of our intelligence or treat us any differently if we scored a "B" instead of an A+.

Life for this acquaintance of mine, was hugely different though. He had a family which evaluated his intelligence based on his grade. The guy had fierce pressure of topping each test, merely to leave his interactions with his family and their perception of his intelligence un-tempered.

As much as I could never connect to him, I did feel sorry for the guy back then.

He was a classic example of someone who "fits it" and expects everyone in the classroom "fit in". Someone who has all the answers but does not learn how to question what the book says. Someone who never lands in trouble to save a classmate from a prank they pulled together.

When you use lousy numbers with no real correlation to success, to measure and judge not just yourself but everyone you meet, you develop a narrowed vision of reality. You become this acquaintance of mine.

You start hiring employees based on their scores in their IQ test. You start taking certifications  seriously, you let designations define your own net worth in your every own eyes and worst of all you start turning your own kids, who are awesome at the art of exploring, failing and learning into idiots who know how to cheat the system and score even higher numbers than you did.

If you are a programmer my advice to you is seek the most innovative organization that you can find out there, even if it has just three people working for it.

If you are a responsible for hiring my advice is stop recruiting people based on their IQ tests and most importantly, if you are a parent, my serious advice to you is, stop evaluating your child by his grades and stop judging him. Stop it. Now.

Observe what your child loves doing and nudge him to do more of it. If all goes well, you might have kid who grows up to be someone who is happy doing what he does not go around comparing his grades, number of employees in his organization or other random numbers with numbers of other random people that he bumps into at shopping malls, to feed his insecurity. Seriously.