Sunday, December 29, 2019

Rotary Moment of Reflection - 12-3-19

Rotary Moment of Reflection
You are more complicated than you know
Kim Brand
December 3, 2019
(redacted due to time constraints)

I’m reading a great book titled The End of Average. It’s made me think of all the ways we measure ourselves and other people by someone else’s yardstick. The book explains that some measures are possible, like height & weight for example. But most are impossible like heart and character.

We have become a number for the convenience of computers: Age, Credit Score, GPA, zip code. The problem is when we believe that those numbers tell the whole story – especially when we believe them about ourselves.

You may not know that the concept of average is a fairly recent invention. Lots of smart people with high IQs measured lots of physical and personality traits and then summarized their findings using new math – they invented averages. It’s called averagarianism.

Being average was once considered the pinnacle of evolution because nature surely intended for average to be the target. Being average was cool!

In 1943 a doctor sculpted a statue of the average woman, named Norma. They launched a contest to find any woman matching her dimensions. Nearly 4000 contestants applied, none was average.

Their research implied authority. But although you can calculate the average type nobody is really average!

Later, the distance from average – above and below – was studied. Depending on the scale, either could be more or less desirable. Consider a golf score vs IQ – I’d be happy to hit 100 on either one!

Within the last couple generations it was believed that if you were good at anything you’d probably be good at everything. That’s why high SAT scores and GPAs used to get you into any school. Microsoft and Google don’t care about SATs or GPAs anymore, they don’t even care so much if you graduated. Now they care about what you’ve done and what YOU care about.

Maybe you’ve been measured by the Myers Briggs personality test. ENTP or ISFJ or whatever. The End of Average claims this is psychological mumbo jumbo. Researchers found that context is critical. Were you measured in family situations, work settings or social environments? It matters a lot. People are just more complicated than the combination of four letters would predict. (That would be 16 types by the way – I got an above average score in combinations & permutations!)

The truth is that our personalities, potentials and physical and mental abilities – and those of everyone you know – are just too complicated for averages - or - to be able to judge a person by his or her type – otherwise known as prejudice.

I’m making this little book report today to encourage you to celebrate the end of averagarianism. Stop comparing yourself to anybody else. 

Russeau said “I may be no better but at least I am different!’ Be a little easier on yourself and more tolerant of everyone. There’s more to our human stories than you can measure.

And finally: You are not average . . . I can prove it!