There is a very bright chance of you spending a good portion of your school life getting grades that managed to place you on a scale of “above average”. And since you never dared to challenge its rationality, it followed you right into your job and successfully infiltrated probably every aspect of your life.
However, it invites the most pertinent question — “Who is this average person and how is he going to get his share of happiness by remaining — “above average?”
In 1945, a competition was held in the Cleveland Plain Dealer newspaper. Women were asked to submit nine of their own physical dimensions; the winner would be the woman whose measurements came closest to a statue called “Norma,” created by sculptor Abram Belskie and gynaecologist Dr. Robert L. Dickinson. Using the average proportions of 15,000 women as reference, “Norma,” was sculpted to represent the ideal female figure.Three thousand women entered the contest, yet no one manage to come close to hitting all nine measurements. The winner only managed to meet five of the nine averages.
In fact, the majority of human beings almost always has different characteristics than what is considered the average, which makes the whole concept of aspiration of falling into the bracket of above average, nothing but an exercise in outright silliness.
The misuse of averages on human characteristics doesn’t stop with the body; it has also been applied to the mind and given people the wrong-headed idea that human character traits are related to intelligence.
These are the kinds of ideas that have led to stereotypes like “nerds are bad at sports” and “athletes aren’t intelligent.”
But the truth is — the human characteristics that make us individuals have little to do with how we learn.
There Is No One “Right Way”
Another misguided notion is that there is an “average” path that will better facilitate learning and the acquisition of knowledge. This is another idea that research has disproved.
The thought that there is one “right way” to do things starts early. Scientists once believed that a child’s development, from crawling to reading, had to be learned through a strict series of specific stages, and that any deviation from this path could result in a developmental disorder.
But according to psychologist Kurt Fischer, who has done extensive testing in this field, there is no one path that must be followed.
By observing the various methods by which children learn to read, Fischer discovered that 30 percent of children follow a different path than the “standard” one — and yet their skills develop normally.
Studies like this show that there are many different ways to achieve the same outcome, and that the effectiveness of any given way depends on the individual. Therefore, any deviation from what is considered “average” should not be thought of as abnormal.
While a college degree expects you to score an above average grade in 24 different but ostensibly useful courses, it’s unlikely that a company will be looking for someone who is highly skilled in all of those 24 different topics. It’s high time our focus should shift more towards targeted credentials where, job seekers and companies can save time and money and get the skilled employment they both desire.
This would be a big step toward embracing our inherent individualism, stepping away from the fallacy of “averagarianism,” and allowing ourselves to reach our full potential.
Breaking The Illusion Of Fear
Once you become very clear that you no longer wish to get yourself into the trap of being just good; you should dare yourself to explore the journey of excellence.
If you want to become awesome, you need to prepare yourself to stare right back at your worst fear.
All your fears (real or imagined) can alienate you from your dreams. It goes without saying that you shouldn’t let it, but to beat fear, you have to understand how it works. Fear prevents you from chasing your dreams by convincing you that they’re impractical or unattainable.
For example, if you’re afraid of asking the girl you like for a date. Your fear of rejection is not allowing you to make a move. You need to just write it down and then allow yourself to exaggerate it to the extreme.
Imagine you will end up having temporary evidence of her digital imprint on your cheek; or worse of being punched right in your face.
Does that seem likely?
Probably not, which is why you need to write it down. That way you can see through the silliness of your own fears, and prevent them from controlling you.
Thankfully, there’s one more effective way to deal with your fear — Just start doing whatever you’re scared of.
If you want to be awesome, you have to get comfortable being uncomfortable. You have to be a dreamer and a realist, practical and impractical, logical and illogical — all at the same time.
To start your journey, you need to find out which parts of your life feel average. Do this by examining key areas of your life — academic, social, intellectual, professional — and write down which ones you want to improve.
You don’t need to be too greedy here, because you can’t afford to pick more than one area at any given point of time.
And, yes you don’t need to find your purpose first to identify that one particular area. Believe it or not, most people use finding their purpose as a smokescreen to avoid doing anything.
Don’t be like them — Forget about finding a purpose. Think about all the pressure you put on yourself when you say that you want to find your one and only, true reason for being.
That much pressure is going to prevent you from doing anything, much less what you were meant to do.
You need to follow these stages to make sense of this entire journey of excellence.
First Stage: Learning
Try as many different things as possible and gain experience. Start learning all the basics of that one area in which you wish to excel. This gradual process of learning is what allows people to become awesome.
For example; Tiger Woods won the masters when he was only 21, but don’t forget that he had been practising for 18 years to reach to that point. Ask yourself this question — if you die tomorrow;
- What would you most regret having never done?
- Are you doing that thing now?
- Why not? Who is stopping you?
Learning is also about being aware of different possibilities and options. Since, you cannot be an expert in everything, it’s better if you start identifying one area where you would like to focus and grow.
For example, if you have a passion both for acting and painting, you have to decide which skill you want to spend more time developing.
At the very heart of this decision is the question — what gives you the ultimate joy?
It’s important to phrase the question exactly in this way. Because normally we end up asking totally different kinds of questions, where the entire focus is on results.
- What will earn me more money?
- Which industry is on the path of growth?
- What will make me more famous?
- Which will take the shortest time and less effort?
Being awesome means doing something that inspires you. Once you have figured out what does; you will have plenty of jobs from which to choose. Whatever it is that you want to learn, just start working on it. And if halfway through, you realise that it’s not leading to the path of your excellence simply edit it and move onto the next thing!
Second Stage: Mastery Through Feedback
Now that you have figured out what you wish to focus on, it’s time to start your journey to Mastery. The trick here is to start simple. You can choose to volunteer where you can trade your time for gaining experiences. You need to do this in order to get better at whatever you are passionate about.
The next task is to find yourself a bunch of role models, you would like to emulate. Find out.
- How did they got where they are?
- What books influenced them?
- How did they benefit from networking?
- How you can follow in their footsteps?
The next task is to start investing in a network where you could find honest feedback. This is crucial, because no matter how hard you work, your growth trajectory will be shaped mostly by alacrity with which you can incorporate inputs from constructive criticisms to improve your work.
Third Stage: Gamification Of Your Work.
What does that mean?
Well, if you have noticed carefully, good games are always winnable by design. They do have novel challenges, and goals, and provide instant feedback for further improvement.
Incorporating these components within the framework of your work will help you immensely in dealing with any loss of motivation.
Fourth stage: Sharing The Love!
Let’s say you made it to the end of your journey of excellence. What’s next?
Now that you have found something you love, you can guide others to follow their own version of the path. You will soon realise that, helping others is one of the most satisfying feeling you can ever get.
Guiding is great, but resist yourself from getting stuck doing only that. Always look for aspects of your own life that you want to develop, and then go all the way back to stage one — to the learning stage — and start the journey to awesomeness all over again.