The End Of Average – Todd Rose
The End Of Average, by Todd Rose, is a transformative book. Reading this short but super-informative book will change how you view the world forever.
Everything Should Be Measured Against the Average
There is an idea that has become hugely influential in modern times. It says that everything should be measured against the average. BMI, SAT, IQ, GPA, above average, below average etc.
Where do you fall in relation to the average??? I need to fit in! I must be average!
We live in an average-obsessed culture!
In the 1900s a gynaecologist measured 14,000 women and came up with ‘Norma’, the completely average, and therefore ideal woman.
Norma, who was a perfectly average specimen of womanhood in terms of her physical dimensions. She was invented to compare real women against in order to find out how they compared to the average. There was pressure to look like Norma.
A nationwide search began to try to find a real-life Norma. Magazines offered cash prizes to any woman who could come forward and demonstrate that she was… Norma.
Out of the thousands of women twho came forward. Not even one was close to being entirely Norma. Even when they allowed a margin of error of 30% on each of norma’s 9 key physical characteristics not even one woman compared. The closest they could find was a woman who had a similarity to Norma, give or take 30% in a mere 5 out the 9 key characteristics.
Norma well and truly did not exist. This phantom that haunted the minds of woman, this aspiration they held up, this ideal, was not a human form.
There was no average woman. The average did not exist.
Average Does Not Exist
Statistical averages can be helpful, but they are rigid and never give a full picture. They give a crude idea of what was true at one point in the past, of a group as a whole. But the average says nothing about the individuals that make up the group.
Statistics Are Not Static
A statistic is a snapshot of a moment in time. But there are so many factors that uniquely affect every moment in time. Humans are dynamic systems. Humans are constantly changing creatures. People move around the average, dipping above and below (and deviating entirely from the script!) regularly!
There have been periods in history when we judged individuals on their unique merits. But now we live in such giant societies that judging people on their individual merits has become difficult, and crude statistical comparisons have become more common – particularly in the areas of education, work, and health.
We find an average and we see that as an ideal that most of the population should adhere to.
Factories required disciplined, average people. Schools still attempt to make students fit into this mould.
Fuck Being Average!
But today rigid workplaces where people are rewarded for being as average as possible, worker-drones, are much less common. In reality, many of the most successful and well-paid people are working in jobs that reward creativity and outside the box thinking.
No longer is being average very useful.
And this is a good thing because none of us is very average at all. We all have unique suite of talents, skills, quirks, and exclusive attributes.
As Sam Harris has said many times when speaking of his own career “you do not need to be world-class at any specific thing in order to be uniquely qualified to do a certain thing”. By this, he means that a person’s unique makeup and mixture of experiences and talents makes them uniquely valuable.
You are not average. And you lack of averageness is your strongest attribute! So figure out what makes you messy and unique and emphasize those qualities. This will make you optimally interesting and value!