Deeply Average: Understanding Your Potential Even If You're 'Only' A Normal Person

17.10.20 12:33 PM By Heather Kleinschmidt

Note: This is Part 2 in a four-part series on Average Potential. Part 1 unpacks the meaning of "average" and tees up a twist that I argue is a more accurate representation of true averageness.  Click to read Part 1.

"You are (roughly) average."

This is a quote from Tom Bilyeu (of Quest Nutrition and Impact Theory).

Whoever you are and whatever your story — whatever you’ve overcome, and whatever you struggle with — you're pretty much average. And so am I.

And so are the people you read about every day — both the people you love and those you hate.

What are you going to do about it?


Average potential is actually really good news, for a few reasons...

Good News #1: It Opens Up Possibility
The more extreme your traits are — the more purified you are in who you are — the less you have at your disposal.

Contrarily, the more "average" you are, the more access you have to both ends of the spectrum. It makes you flexible, capable of handling whatever comes your way. Capable of reaching outward in both directions.

The average person understands — or at least can understand — both orange and blue.

If you can open yourself to the possibility that you might not be as extreme as you may have believed — if you can embrace your averageness — an entire world of access opens up to you.


Averageness is an indicator of complexity. It means that you are not a purified bot that only understands how to do things one way. You have access to some degree of understanding of both ends of a spectrum.

Let's look at an example:
Imagine that your default "way of being" on a disagreeability-agreeability scale favors agreeableness...

What this means is that — even though you may be more comfortable with agreeable behavior, even though you may have developed more skills to reinforce your agreeableness, even though you may have developed a value structure that esteems agreeable behavior over disagreeable behavior — despite all of that, you have some insight into what it means to be disagreeable. You have some insight into how you can behave disagreeably, when needed.

Let's imagine further...

Maybe most of the time, you find yourself getting along just fine with your default setting. Most of the time, it works really well for you, and you're proud of the identity that you inhabit when you behave in that way.

But then you find yourself in a situation where you're being repeatedly walked on and taken advantage of... and you need to stand up for yourself.

It may be uncomfortable and difficult — especially the first time — but the capacity to find a disagreeable nature is very much accessible to you. Your disagreeableness muscle may have atrophied over years of opting for more agreeable behavior — but it's still there, where you can slowly begin to work it into your situation.

You might even surprise yourself to discover more substance in this other "way of being" than you expected.

The capacity is there for you to develop your disagreeableness muscle just enough, so that you can handle the situation effectively and continue moving forward in the world...

Because you have at least a small understanding of what it means to tap into each of the polarities, it's easier to learn how to develop each of those capacities whenever the need arises.

You can develop outward, and outward, and outward along that qualitative spectrum, in either or both directions, as needed.

Further, your "average" complexity means that you have hidden capacities — hidden traits — that have not yet revealed themselves.

Your unknown intricacies will surprise even you (both in ways that make you proud and in ways that disappoint you).

Reconceptualizing "Average"
"Average" is blended and complex.
"Average" is dynamic and surprising.
"Average" is rich and nuanced.

Your Unique Blend of Average

In your interactions in the world, you're seen as a simplified version of you (both by others and by yourself).

It's something like this...

We need rapid descriptions for the things (and people) we encounter in the world. So we'll see something that's textured and complex, like the first image above, and we'll call the whole thing "blue"... because we have to keep moving in the world. By describing it as simply "blue," we're able to rapidly continue onward.

The problem occurs when the reality of the textured blue begins to operate too much with the identity of pure blue.

The problem is when you — with your "agreeableness" (returning to our earlier example) — lose your ability to see the actual nuance in who you are.

You are not this...

You're more like this...


Good News #2: There's Surprise in "Average"
There’s depth and complexity to who you are, which makes you interesting.

That complexity means that there’s more to you than you know. It means that you will be surprised by you over time. As you continue to engage with life, you'll find yourself capable of qualities that you thought were not at all within your toolkit.

You don’t even have to consciously develop those qualities - merely by being open to the possibility that they're there, you’ll find yourself surprised to discover that sometimes they really are there.



Whatever categories you've been assigned (by yourself or by others), what would happen if you let them go? What would happen if it's not true that you're 100% that thing? What if the reality is more blended and dynamic?

What if you're actually a unique recipe of colors, textures, and patterns that changes complex-ly as you move and navigate through the world.

You are not an idea of you — you are you.

You are not a purified version of anything — you are uniquely nuanced.

Lean into your personal curiosities.

You're the only one who can.

Taking Advantage of Your Average Potential

All of this ties together to indicate that:
  1. Your unique, average complexity is of higher value than you may have expected - because you're truly the only person in the world who can bring the things that you can bring in the dynamic mixture with which you can bring it in.
  2. Your dynamism allows you to adapt to any situation in ways that you might have thought were impossible for you.
  3. You are extremely interesting and non-static.

And what does all of that mean?

👉   It means we need you to pursue your curiosities.

👉   It means we need you to open yourself up to the possibility that you might not be who you think you are — that there might be more robustness and more capacity and more surprise within your reach.

Good News #3: Just Like The Greats
Being average means that you're just like the many other people who have accomplished their most valued dreams.

Ok... yes. There may be (extremely occasional) exceptions to this rule. I'm convinced Elon Musk's obsession with making it to space is actually an internal drive to find a way back to his home planet.

But in general, all of the truly remarkable people in the world are very, very average.

And they learned how to take advantage of their unique blend — they learned to find a groove in their “home” qualities (those qualities in which they're most comfortable) while finding a way to adapt and overcome any weak points.

They engaged with the full width and complexity of their potential. They operated from a place of possibility.


No Matter What Your Story

Your story adds to the richness of who you are.

And that richness creates possibility for you -- it doesn't take possibility away. Embrace it all to move forward.

It Pays To Assume That Self-Surprise Is Possible
We have legitimate limits. But there’s too much that’s unknown to pretend like we know where those limits are.

In general, it pays to assume that dynamism and adaptability are possible for you.

It pays to assume that you can surprise yourself with your own capabilities.

If you have a reason to want to develop outward along some qualitative dimension, it's worth assuming that you can find your way in that direction.

Extreme Is Not Unique... Extreme Is Vanilla
When we think of “average,” it’s typical to think of someone with two deficits, someone vanilla. Someone who is neither capable in one direction nor capable in the opposite direction.

In reality though, it's the person who tries to stick to the purified extreme who's vanilla. They have one thing, and only one thing. There's no range or surprise to who they are. There's no insight into the value of the "other." There's no dynamism or depth.

There is value in pursuing extreme competencies... for the purpose of broadening your capacity.

But the highest value is in the breadth and dynamism itself -- not in the singular extreme capacity.


Find Your Average
...Find your dynamism.
...Find the far-reaches of your breadth.
...Find your hidden surprises.

Each week, I do a deep-dive into the question of living meaningfully.

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