Sunday, March 30, 2008

Curious about Average: What Does It Mean to You and Your Life? Is It Good Enough?

I am reading a little book by Seth Godin called The Dip. Even though the book is small, it packs a huge wallop. Godin has some harsh, but more than useful words about “Average is for Losers.”

The next time you catch yourself being average when you feel like quitting, realize that you have only two good choices: Quit or be exceptional… Isn’t your time and your effort and your career and your reputation too valuable to squander on just being average? Average feels safe, but it’s not. It’s invisible.”

Heavy thoughts. And a great deal to consider. Being exceptional can easily fall outside our comfort zone. And, there are also many who suggest that being “good enough” is fine. Yes, I do agree that concentrating at all times on perfection can keep us from ever completing a project. It can also cut down our chances of making it through the dips.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be an invisible average – I want to be exceptional and reap those benefits. How about you? Read the book. It is an eye and mind opener.

I found a huge number of quotations – many as unsettling as Godin’s book:
  • When you're average, you're just as close to the bottom as you are the top.” - Alfred North Whitehead, English mathematician
  • Don't let the opinions of the average man sway you. Dream, and he thinks you're crazy. Succeed, and he thinks you're lucky. Acquire wealth, and he thinks you're greedy. Pay no attention. He simply doesn't understand.” - Robert G. Allen, American financial writer
  • Do a little bit more than average and from that point on our progress multiplies itself out of all proportion to the effort put in.” - Paul J. Meyer, American businessman
  • The average man does not know what to do with this life, yet wants another one which will last forever.” - Anatole France, French novelist
  • If you are only doing what you are getting paid for, and doing it no better than the average employee, then your pay is most likely right where it should be.” - Bo Bennett, American businessman

But, there are also many quotations that take another turn about average:

  • The hardest struggle of all is to be something different from what the average man is.” - Robert H. Schuller, American clergyman
  • Look at the average American diet: ice cream, butter, cheese, whole milk, all this fat. People don't realize how much of this stuff you get by the end of the day. High blood pressure is from all this high-fat eating.” - Jack LaLanne, American athlete
  • The average American worker has fifty interruptions a day, of which seventy percent have nothing to do with work.” - W. Edwards Deming, American scientist
  • In today's knowledge-based economy, what you earn depends on what you learn. Jobs in the information technology sector, for example, pay 85 percent more than the private sector average.” - William J. Clinton, American President
  • No institution can possibly survive if it needs geniuses or supermen to manage it. It must be organized in such a way as to be able to get along under a leadership composed of average human beings.” - Peter Drucker, American businessman

Personally, I feel that we aren’t born “average.” We can all work to be known as “exceptional.”

Whatever the difference between brilliant and average brains, we are all creative. And through practice and study we can enhance our skills and talents.” - Jeff Hawkins, American inventor

I agree. How about you?