There Is No Such Thing Like An „Average Person“
Have you ever questioned the paradigm of most motivational, success and leadership coaches that reads something like “You are not born to be an average person with an average life! You are born to be exceptional and outstanding! So start working for it!!”
But the question is: what does “average” actually mean? Under what conditions “average”, in what respect “average”? And here, unfortunately, we tend to see the term from the angle of “work achievement” and certain standards of “exceptional” (money, power) only. But does “work make the man”? In the best case it “expresses” a part of a man.
If we kept that in mind, it would allow us to look beyond that border of a certain type of achievement that shows easily and see the whole person – and by that “seeing” we will find what makes that person exceptional. (By the way: as I have shown in some article before, being “seen” and recognized as valuable to another person or a group is the most important need for most members of the human species.)
Let me explain with some examples:
The call for not remaining “average” reminds me on my own mantra when I was young. My greatest fear then was to lead an average life and I told myself that MY life would always be exceptional.
And then I started to travel and see the world.
I met this guy in Italy who was a simple factory worker on the surface and who turned out to be an exceptional cartoonist after I had bothered to look beyond the surface. In the end, he put down a sketch of Pedro and Petra, the couple who was accompanying me during many of my workshops.
I met this elderly woman on a park bench in Monte Carlo and when I bothered to ask her how she had come to live here, I was acquainted with the most magical and irrational love story I have ever heard of. At that time, she had already lost her husband and was passing most of her days on that park bench. She looked like an average woman but in fact, her life showed that she was not.
One day in early summer, I was travelling on a public bus in Vienna and came to talk for whatever reason to the man standing beside me. At first glance he looked like someone who had not much more to offer than average. When I bothered to listen he turned out to be one of the many refugees of the Balkans’ War, having endured a poor childhood with ice-cold winters and no heating, being the only one of his family who dared to make his way to Austria, and who had since then not only built his own construction firm but was also designing furniture.
Or the young African woman who owns that small hair salon in the 6th Viennese district who does not look different from so many other black women to most European eyes . But if you bothered to listen you would find out that only seven years ago she had been living in a typical native village in Burkina Faso, without electricity or running water, knowing nothing than her local language and French.
I could fill a book with the stories I have been told, with the moments of amazement, with the moments of learning, that people who seemed to be average on the surface have offered me – be it in daily situations or in my training and coaching.
First, I changed my “seeing” out of curiosity.
Then, I changed my “seeing” out of purpose.
Now, I know that I need to be prepared for the exceptional behind every face I see, yes, even more: I already see it when it is still behind the surface.
Be certain: there is no such thing like an “average person”. There is only an average way to see.
Whether you are a leader, a father or a mother, a friend, a colleague or a complete stranger to the situation: try to see the people you encounter every day – yourself! – with new eyes full of interest and with a spirit that welcomes positive surprises. You will be highly rewarded for looking beyond the surface. Because for being able to get the “exceptional” in somebody you need to see the whole person. You will recognize the exceptional in the average and the average in the exceptional. For this is the human condition. We are all exceptional and average at the same time.
This post is also available in: German