We tend to compare ourselves vs a benchmark. This benchmark is usually the average. Whether it’s our IQ, GPA, GMAT, baby milestones, income categories, career progression or a wide range of fitness goals.

For negative elements beyond our control, we find comfort in being average. It proves the experiences we have are normal and therefore acceptable. (Baby growth spurts for new parents come to mind.) It shows that we are not failures or completely incapable. We would prefer to be far below average, but average is ok.

With upside benefits, we are never satisfied with just average. We must exceed expectation. We want to excel, show greater progress and experience than ‘Joe’ down the street.

The contrast is fascinating.

The further we move from averages in either direction, the less populated the bell curve becomes. It stands to reason that experiences close to the averages are ‘ordinary’ or ‘common’. By the same logic, experiences far from the average are less common, or ‘extraordinary’.

We expect to have challenges close to ‘ordinary’, but we want positive outcomes that are ‘extraordinary’.

Extraordinary is that way because it was not exposed to the common or the ordinary. That is what makes it uncommon.

See the problem.

Nick Fewings

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