Let’s begin with an initial disclaimer: There is nothing inherently wrong with being average or below average. Those are labels applied to specific instances or people in order to discourage or disparage them.
My disdain for the brandishing of people, things or acts as average or below average is for the purpose it has been characterised as such. It isn’t to propel or encourage people to strive for that next level it is to cut them down.
It is to stop them reaching up and attaining. It’s a defence mechanism which enables us to hide our own inadequacies. Instead of appreciating the effort, we lazily describe what we are seeing as average in the hope of people remaining worse than what we are thus ensuring our ego remains intact.
Average isn’t even real anyway; who has 2.4 children, for example, that is an average. Everybody is unique or different when viewed in comparison.
But how can you differentiate yourself in a world that has become average? Everywhere you look people are doing the same things with the same people at the same time. You’re eating at the same places, taking photos of the same things and posting them to the same social networks. Being average ensures social currency but it doesn’t afford creative innovation.
Average is a mindset. It is not seeing, refusing or not realising only you have the capability to change things.
Nobody ever noticed anyone doing only the things that were expected of them. People who achieve unprecedented success do the unexpected. They excel through an unconventional approach and an unmerciful pursuit of uncovering something new.
An obsession with innovation, a desperation for creation or an fascination with a specific subject.
Average people can’t compete with obsession. If you’re average you can’t be obsessed. You may like things but obsession requires you to straddle the border of rationality. You need to commit yourself to a less certain rationale; it requires an incomprehensible commitment to pursuing a specific goal, something the average person can’t grasp.
Average, by definition, means converging with the mass of population and getting lost in the crowd. It means dissolving into the sea of noise and refusing to stand out with a dissenting contrarian viewpoint.
Doing something different makes you an outsider, it differentiates you and identifies you as a leader of a movement. It enables you to establish your expertise and build an incomparable knowledge base. In a world of sameness, you colour yourself unique purposefully.
The antithesis of average is dangerous and precarious. You’ll be criticised and mocked by those who don’t understand. Average is easy, being different means standing up on your own and running in the opposite direction to the crowd. Average is safe which is why it is appealing. Staying in the same comfortable position unchallenged means plateauing. Make yourself uncomfortable, challenge yourself and question things. Scare yourself weekly if not daily. If you’re not scared you’re not trying.
Don’t let yourself wallow in self-pity or accept your current reality as your guaranteed future, nothing is a bigger assurance of averageness. You might be average now but you can always work towards changing that. It can be a small change to your daily routine that propels you to something new.
And new is invigorating. It inspires you to try and keep trying. When you are learning you are growing and that feeling is extraordinary. Cultivate it and let it grow. Force the hosepipe of knowledge down your throat and drink as much as you can.
As your knowledge grows and expands you’ll feel less average. You’ll connect ideas mid-conversation and find yourself recognising string of thought from books you have read or topics you have learned. You’ll find yourself recommending things to other who are struggling and pointing them in the right direction. When you become the teacher you have escaped average.
And people will notice. They will see that you are different and comment on it. You might expect acknowledgement or even encouragement but unfortunately, it probably won’t come.
Ultimately, becoming extraordinary requires an alteration to your own attitude. In order to grow your joy has to derive from seeing your own growth because those you expect to be happiest for your improvement may not be.
And that is the sacrifice you must make.
Dependence on other people for your happiness ensures you remain average. As does trying to impress. Do things for yourself and anything else that comes as a by-product is a bonus.
Independent thinking and actions ensure you go against the grain. You zig when others zag and afford yourself the opportunity to achieve something of significance. If you are doing the same things as everyone else you will never succeed in achieving an unprecedented result.
So be brave, be bold and explore.
Find the things you are passionate about and obsess over them.
Because average can’t compete with obsession.