The Fear of Average

“Average” gets a bad rep. But what if you do “average” really, really well?

Hear me out.

A while ago I wrote about my pursuit of projects. The idea that I always need to have a forward-thinking goal on the horizon to keep me motivated. Another marathon. Another client. Another product to market and sell. It’s a blessing that keeps me hustling – but a curse that leaves me never feeling fully satisfied.

This past weekend I spent time amongst the beautiful mountains of North Carolina. Just outside of Asheville, one of my favorite places on earth, the mountains always have a way of helping to put some things into perspective. They prompt you to take a step back, take a deep breathe, and reflect.

And what I realized was that this pursuit of “projects” is all to combat one thing: The fear of being “average”. 

I have – and we have – the ability to convince ourselves that no matter who we are – where we are – or what we’re doing – it isn’t enough. We can always be doing more. We can also land more clients. Make more sales. Find more followers. We know that this line of thinking – this fear of “average” – is nonsensical, but we do it anyway.

But if you’re constantly running away from “average” – you’ll find yourself running a race you can’t possibly win. You’ll diminish your personal accomplishments, your professional triumphs, and you’ll discard your ideas as not being “good enough”.

We shouldn’t run from average – but instead, redefine it. Your average may be exceptional to someone else. And your average may be routine and ordinary by the measure of others.

I’ll share this quote from Brianna West’s recent article titled “The Problem With Average”:

“Growth is not perfectionism. Happiness is not perfectionism. Growth means to bloom where you are planted. Happiness is to be enamored by the plant. To be doing what most others are isn’t subpar. Common does not mean undignified. But what does is when we start making disingenuous choices to be “above-average.” Not because we feel compelled to but because they will allow us to define ourselves to others in a way that will receive a certain reaction. I am this, I am that, I am worthy. But it will never be enough. Because there will always be people scoffing at something because of their own mind’s retaliation of what should be ideal: they’ll judge you negatively to see themselves positively.

So we have to start seeing ourselves not categorically defined in society but as people who embrace their ability to choose and think and change and enjoy their morning cup of coffee and call themselves average if it’s comforting and dismiss the entire concept if it’s not. Because the whole idea that people are or aren’t worthy based on what they do or have done is not only irrelevantly dangerous but is also demeaning and ignorant of the human condition.”

You’ve written a book? Great, someone else has written ten. You started a company? Who cares, someone else has been running their own and making millions for years. See where I’m going here?

This is a call not only to stop measuring ourselves by the accomplishments for others – but a call to do whatever it is you do exceptionally well.

You’re not average, unless you convince yourself that you are. [tweet this]

So often at Proof we talk about doing work that matters. Work backed with purpose and passion. In the work you do and in the life you lead, success – and more importantly – fulfillment – isn’t defined by anyone or anything but you.

Maybe it is average. And maybe average is exactly what it should be.

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