ME! No, I’m only joking. I’d be way higher than 75%!
You all know I love data and some of the fun things we can pull out of studies about performance and selection. A 2014 study on world-class athletes found that the top-performing athletes had older siblings in 75% of the participants studied!
So, want to hire better performers? Ask this question:
Do you have older siblings?
Ironically, those only children, the super great ones all those parents love, only have a 5% chance of being world-class! Oldest kids get the other 20%, and middle kids, well they don’t get anything but to continue to complain it’s unfair!
Why do people with older siblings tend to perform better?
Okay, I get it, we are talking about world-class athletes and performance, but really the same foundations are set by older siblings no matter what the skill or profession. Want to be a better cook? It probably helps to have older siblings who were cooking around you and showed interest, which made you interested, etc.
Siblings tend to compete with each other, and the youngest will always be at a disadvantage until they are not. If you’re kicking little Timmy’s butt all over the court, you won’t work as hard to continue to get better, but little Timmy will never stop until he beats you. (By the way – this isn’t a “boy” thing, the study was done on female world-class athletes – it works across all genders)
The youngest kids get all the advantages of being pushed harder and getting knowledge transfer from seeing older siblings fail and succeed. On average, they are more likely to gain from being in an environment where older siblings are performing.
Does this concept transfer to the world of work?
I don’t have hard data from a study that it does, only anecdotal evidence to say it depends! I’ve worked with brilliant people who come from all kinds of family dynamics. I do find, on average, that those people who were raised as younger siblings bring competitiveness to the workplace that if channeled appropriately can be very good.
I do think it also depends on how close in age they are to their siblings. The closer the better in my experience. My younger brother is 15 years younger than me. He’s more only-child than younger sibling grinding it out trying to beat me. My two oldest sons are twenty months apart, one year apart in school age. They are strong competitors, and my youngest you is four years younger than his brothers gets competition shoved down his throat, by his brothers in everything he does.
So, today, younger siblings who have taken all the beatings from your older siblings, smile bright! You probably have a better shot a being great, because of those beatings!