Intelligence, athleticism, social skills -- "I'm about average. Give or take some". Better than below average, right? Not so fast. Let's discuss how regular people learn to compensate for their generic makeup in order to stand out.
"I always felt like I was inferior, so it just made me stop trying". To an objective outsider, she was intelligent, insightful, funny and pretty. And she was well aware of that. But after a few sessions, my client's words took on a new meaning when I began to understand that her version of "inferior" was most people's definition of average.
What she meant was that she didn't stand out. She went unnoticed to the people that she cared to impress. That deemed her inferior to herself in a way that caused her motivation to progressively dwindle, as she slowly bought into the idea that she couldn't achieve excellence.
Modern society has bombarded us with messages that drive us to dream big and chase those dreams to fulfillment. And we do. Well, the people that are being portrayed in the documentary, commercial or motivational video -- they do. But for every success story displayed, there are thousands of people who had the same dreams but failed to realize them. What are they left to think of themselves?
The problem often stems from 'the box' that we are stuck in. When describing their vision of success, most people will focus on an extremely limited range of categories such as wealth, competitive sports or fame. 'The box' of success stories that our culture has created is very small. Much too small to fit the appropriate descriptions of success that could pertain to the great diversity of our population.
But there's much more to it than just that. It's the objective standard. We are judging ourselves against each other. Success is the gold medal or corner office that can only be attained by defeating the competition. So we learn to define success in terms that pin us against each other, as victory can only be claimed when we have outplayed our opponent.
But what if there were no opponents? Does success cease to exist? It depends on how you define success. And this will probably affect how you define yourself, your goals and your degree of personal fulfillment.
The mistake of defining oneself as average can be attributed to limiting one's areas of success to 'the box' that society has created based on the talents and capabilities that are displayed on public platforms. But the vast population of mankind cannot be confined to such few options.
Average means that your talents are unique. You were never an honor student and never made a sports team in school. You had a small group of good friends but were never the life of the party. You work at a decent job with decent benefits and have decent coworkers. You're not making millions or starting the next big tech company.
That was easy. Eliminating the obvious. But now it's time to take a real look in the mirror and learn to appreciate your unique talents or achievements.
And often, it starts internally. Which means that what you'll find is real. Hidden from the public and lacking the intent to impress others. It's the real you. And it's incredible.
But how do you figure out where you shine? It usually doesn't take too long to think of the ways that you are unique and even exceptional. Think about your natural skills, your personal achievements, the struggles you have overcome, the ways you've helped others. The list is truly endless.
What does need work is learning to appreciate those areas. It's the process of pushing aside the generic pictures of success and beginning to value the greatness of each individual. Starting with you.