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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