Are you average? 2



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Do you consider yourself average?

By average I mean ordinary, commonplace, humdrum, unexceptional or fair-to-middling.

Or are you outstanding, extraordinary, brilliant, unusual or amazing?

By definition, not all of us can be above average. If you do consider yourself average, are you happy about that?

Albert Einstein once observed, “I am not more gifted than the average human being. If you know anything about history, you would know that is so — what hard times I had studying and the fact that I do not have a memory like some other people do. I am just more curious than the average person and I will not give up on a problem until I have found the proper solution.”

Hailed as the greatest genius of the 20th century, Einstein won the Nobel Prize for Physics yet, overall, he was only an average student in his early years although he excelled at mathematics. He was a passionate sailor but somewhat less than average and he couldn’t even swim.

To give ‘average’ its cruellest definition when applied to people, it is to say that they are ‘mediocre’.

Do you always want to conform, even if subconsciously? Are you nervous about standing out from the crowd? Are you invariably self-deprecating? Do you worry about what other people might think of you? Are you afraid or uncertain about trying something new or saying something unexpected? Do you try and blend into the crowd? Are you happy to accept things that are only ‘okay’?

If you answer ‘Yes’ to all or even some of these questions then you are ‘average’, and that is only a small step away from ‘mediocre’.

Nobody deliberately asks for ‘average’. No child learning about the big wide wonderful world says, “I’ll be happy being average all of my life” because this child would condemn itself to a life of boring ordinariness. Have you ever said to yourself, “I wish I had done…? (fill in the blank space)”? Is your recollection of your life full of regrets?

Regrets can be soul destroying. They can corrode your very sense of being. Invariably, the ‘average’ person concocts an excuse — the time wasn’t right for that, my teachers hated me so I failed exams, my parents wouldn’t let me and the list goes on. Of course, it is never ever the fault of the ‘average’ person that they didn’t succeed at something — it is always somebody else’s fault. Blame shifting gives the ‘average’ person a convenient and comfortable self-justification. The ultimate excuse is “Well, it’s too late now to do that”.

Have you ever said or thought something like, “It’s all very well for him (or her) to prance around being superior but I’ll have you know I was ahead of him (or her) at school.”

Is this unknown person really prancing around or is that person simply outstanding at what they do and the world knows it? If this person was behind you at school, what personal driving force lifted them above the ordinary, above the ‘average’? Why didn’t you do what that person did?
Have you ever said or thought that success depends not on what you know but who you know? The “You know, of course, that it was his (or her) uncle Fred who got him (or her) where she is today”. Well, perhaps Uncle Fred did help — families tend to do that — but nobody is going to be recognised as truly outstanding 30 or 40 years after Uncle Fred’s leg-up if they don’t have above-average abilities and talents. They would have crashed and burned and been relegated to obscurity.

Every one of us is a unique human being. There has never ever been someone just like you in the past and there won’t be in the future — successful cloning aside. We all have different talents and abilities.

To discover the thing that you are brilliant at you first have to endure realising what you are ‘average’ at — then concentrate on that one area of brilliance. That doesn’t necessarily mean winning a Nobel Prize, being garlanded with honours and awards and being feted by the great and powerful.

Perhaps your brilliance is being a loving and supportive parent, a good and true friend or an upright decent citizen. Those around you will recognise that brilliance and be in awe of you. Perhaps your example may inspire some to be like you.

Whatever you do, don’t embrace mediocrity — its only allure is to make you fall in love with failure. If you conform you are nurturing mediocrity, you are settling for “average” and you are really demeaning and belittling yourself.

You would have become your own worst enemy.

Based on Russell’s musings, how do you regard yourself? Share your thoughts with us.

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Russell Grenning

Russell Grenning is a Brisbane-based former journalist and retired political adviser who began his career with the ABC in 1968 in Brisbane and subsequently worked on the Brisbane afternoon daily, "The Telegraph" and later as a columnist for "The Courier Mail" and "The Australian". He worked for a string of senior Ministers in the Federal, Victorian and Queensland Governments as well as in senior executive public relations positions, including Assistant Federal Director, Public Relations, for Australia Post, Public Relations Manager for the Queensland Department of Main Roads and Principal Adviser, Corporate Relations, for the Queensland Law Society.

  1. I’m sure it’s true that each and every one of us has a talent. Part of the duty of being a parent and/or a teacher, is to recognise what those talents are and to nurture them.

  2. Part of the blessings in my life has to have been average. For my generation, I am average height for a male adult (5’10”/180 cm) my weight (70 kg) is a bit below average but I don’t regard that as a failure. At school, I played active sports and because I was below average in weight, I had to learn resilience and to be a lot more strategic in my play. Lessons that have stayed with me and helped me. My intelligence is about average so in my Bachelors and Masters degrees, I achieved mainly credits and distinctions – average results. Only one fail and one HD – no problem. In my working career as a marketer, I was a useful member of each team I belonged to, making my share of contributions. I don’t regret that at all. In my retirement, I am that most attractive of averages, the happy medium – rich, not poor.

    I agree, find what you are best at and focus on that but for heaven’s sake don’t regard yourself as a failure if you are not the best in the world at it. The good thing about being average is that there are equal numbers of people better and worse than you. Winning isn’t everything and no, second does not equal first loser. Stop setting your standards by other peoples’, build your own.

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