▼What Average People Don't Get▼
MISCELLANEOUS WRITINGS | 2016 EDITION | VOLUME 77
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We could talk about average people, average business cultures or slow reaction times all day.
But is it really worth the aggravation?
Winners, good leaders and managers alike, wage vigorous assaults on mediocrity, mediocracy and average on a daily basis!
Take for instance #UnnecessaryTEDTalks. And one person's revolt. Often brought together by their own insecurities, average people are likely to ridicule a Tai Lopez and his funny looks at his TEDTalk. Until they see this.
The saddest thing to witness on Social Media is one person after another with no bullsh☀t detector, suffering from FOMO (fear of missing out syndrome). People easily influenced by con artists who specialize in garbage. These are average people. Victims getting worse by the day.
Winners repeatedly have to fight to rise above their OWN inertia. As well as average cultures they find themselves in as they hustle to achieve great goals. But to be clear, hubris that denigrates and disrespects people whom no matter how one cuts, slices and dices it, are average, is not a leadership ideal this article and its author endorses. Nor does such behavior reflect a high EQ/Emotional Intelligence. That said, highly successful organizations and efficient, fast moving, self-directed people who run by the clock (as above), get it. They get time management. They get the importance of being genuinely and fully immersed in every project, process, goal, entrepreneurial venture or relationship one signs up for. Importantly, failing unnecessarily is not their thing. And it's the real world experiences and frustrations of clashing with average people doing just enough to get by that inspired this article.
We assume average people — the 99% more politely known as the 97% — are simply lazy people begging for handouts 24/7 and tiptoeing on their way to their graves.
But nothing could be farther from the truth.
Average is a mindset. A cancer. As far as I'm concerned.
And there're hard working, very diligent people out there who in most cases got it ingrained in them as children by parents, guardians and teachers who didn't know any better. Oprah's own grandmother for example, attempted grooming her for a career as a diligent maid for “White folks”. My own family is usually decades behind on appreciating the strategic impact of my goals. Which means, on most jugular matters and achievements, I had little to no support.
This is true for entrepreneurs who had to start all over again as I often have, or against all odds, go solo. Why? Because as Dr. Eric Thomas above, you're finding after the fact, that your partners, collaborators, etc. lack focus and discipline; are easily distracted by smartphones they won't turn off. One minute, you're on a roll and communication is great, tasks delegated and distributed. You're moving the needle, and assuming the team is, too. The next week, or for several months they've disappeared. Individually sidetracked by trivial priorities having nothing to do with business or professed shared goals. Average, for such people, is an OPTION.
In China meanwhile, and despite (international) media hype about its economy and education, the long term effects of repressive/despotic regimes like it can be seen by keen observers and exiled Chinese scholars alike, in the extent to which ambition, imagination and creative/critical thought is beaten out of the average (hard working) citizen to the point of stupefaction. To the point where more people are focused in a single conversation on telling you how average they are and what they can't do, or aren't good at, than most other countries. From the waiter, stranger or English major who psychologically freezes, unable to communicate even when you switch to Chinese, to the majority eager to avoid contact because: “I can't speak English”. Even when nobody has asked them to.
Sadly, many never break free from average. It becomes, to them, an OPTION. The default.
And this, for over a decade, I saw with my own eyes, understood, and documented.
This includes average expats faking their way through Asia's job economy.
Then there's the drop-dead gorgeous who genuinely believes her looks are average. The type that makes compliments from women and men alike fall flat, with responses like: “I'm just average.” Words they really believe. Those who don't know better or are themselves, average, call it “shyness”. Though in Japan, people who can't speak English engage with you rather than avoid you while filming or stealing photo shots of you with their smartphones when you're not looking for gossip later on. Then there are those average, aloof ones whose response is:
“They're everywhere.” “That happens everywhere, right?” Wrong. Whatever everywhere means. That thought — that line of reasoning right there — is also average thinking.
Average people generalize. A lot. And the first step away from mediocrity is teaching yourself to recognize this tendency.
In fact, anyone seeking to drastically improve their confidence/self-confidence won't get far without first mastering The Art of the Self Scout, written by venerable Twitter follower, @GeoffTWilson. Just as a mentee who was stealing “inexpensive” office supplies was advised by me to stop because having a bad boss that fit the 3 Bad Leader Types didn't justify average work and petty theft. That boss was eventually fired. But the change that liberated my Chinese mentee — whom I personally know to be lazy and a corner cutter — came from fixing the person in the mirror. Ethically. And workwise.
Nothing is as easy it ever appears. You can't go through life simplifying, generalizing and dismissing things to compensate for an impatient and anti-intellectual vein within.
Average people, however accomplished in business and other areas of life, never get this. Until at least they make the commitment to cross over from ignorance, hubris and complacency, to master self scouting.
“Personal happiness lies in knowing that life is not a check-list of acquisition or achievement. Your qualifications, your CV, are not your life, though you will meet many people of my age and older who confuse the two. Life is difficult, and complicated, and beyond anyone’s total control, and the humility to know that will enable you to survive its vicissitudes.”
Why does the above resonate? Because at one end of the spectrum, you have the type Dr. Eric Thomas (above) and I can't stand. The privileged, aloof type — sociopaths, blackhat hackers and social media addicts/herd desperate for a sense of belonging alike — with time on the hands. They go online seeking mischief they call “entertainment” while they violate others. On the end of the spectrum, you could have well-meaning, law-abiding, very hard working albeit average folks who wake up, go to earn a living, return home to live in filth (as in apartments that become uninhabitable after tenants leave) as they go from bed without brushing teeth, straight to computers/phablets/devices to one funny cat video to another ALL DAY; and/or watching State TV, following orders, never realize their full potential. 'Been there. 'Seen it with my own eyes.
The same, likely to get on a subway/bus, witness an incident, and due to moral depravity, be more concerned with filming it for Social Media likes and favorites than being constructive. After all, there's only so much funny cats, forums filled with people hurling insults at each other or casting judgments on strangers for the entertainment of sadist friends can teach someone committed to remaining average. Even if they start off as good, upstanding citizens.
Same crowd likely to use the phrase: “I don't take myself too seriously” because they lack both a mature worldview and imagination to understand that, that neighbor or roommate who re-uses plastic forks or spoons, or wears wornout clothes at home, actually has smart reasons. But guess what. They never ask. They'd much rather assume. And, you'd think it must be nice to live in a mind as simple as theirs. Unless you know better. After all, I once politely mocked a very frugal a college friend to her face. Until I fell on hard times years later.
You want to make easy money seeing average in action?
Make a bet with a naive person with deep pockets. Travel to Mainland China on a mission to find instances where people use the phrase 那么多 (“na me duo”). Literally meaning, so much (stuff), so many, too much, etc. Most common context: A customer or grocery shopper buying what they consider “a lot of stuff”. Needless to say, this may be someone who's extremely busy, may be traveling and is justified in carrying or buying the lot they are.
In order to make your money, you, or your friend(s) have to be situationally aware enough to navigate China's gossip culture such that you actually hear the phrase, or catch people use the phrase behind your back every time. These are people, in most cases, who have never traveled before. In some cases, they did visit Hong Kong. But unlike others better educated, never, never learned from the night and day difference. And so, having been miseducated and misinformed all their lives, return to the Mainland, to the only comfort zone they were programmed to default to: Average. By choice. A reason Ai Weiwei is a threat. Just as anyone in any organization who chooses to do more than they're paid for, always going going the extra mile to build relationships based on cooperation and problem solving rather than infighting and, is seen as a threat. You're in good company, if the latter is you, and the above resonates.
Over to you, Seth...
Most people don't care enough to make a difference.
Most people aren't going to buy that new thing you're selling.
Most people are afraid to take action.
Most people are too self-involved to do the generous work you're hoping for [or talking about].
Most people think they can't afford it.
Most people won't talk about it.
Most people aren't going to read what you wrote.
Fortunately, you're not most people.
Neither are your best customers [purest admirers or best early adopters].
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