I have often comtemplated this very subject. I think for me, as some have already written, it is more on what you actually bring to the mat. Aikido for me should be oriented around self defense. The perks are the great philosophies and people associated. So as far as what rank you have aquired in your life means nothing when confronted in real life. So personally, I train to be effective. When your technique gets proficient, the rank will come. Fortunately for us, we train in an art that does not require a certain level before given more advance ranks.
I have also had problems with the whole rank structures and changing dojos. I trained for a time in the military where I tested for my 5th kyu, in Iwama style Aikido. When I got out and started at my current dojo, I was unsure what to do. I eventually took my 3rd kyu test. (After asking for the opinion of my sensei. ) People came up to me with nice comments on my 2nd kyu test. So again it does not matter what rank. I do believe in focus and rank structure but it should be secondary. I have gone to some dojos where things are drastically different. They told me after walking in the door how long it would take to reach shodan. They also wore hakimas at all ranks. Although I definately don't discount what they had to teach, I was uncomfortable. I have training with much zest, not as many years as most, but I want to put on my hakama while being a shodan. People worry to much... and I am long winded. Back to the mat for me.
peace and jokes, aj