I was an average student, had a moderately successful, albeit short, career in Human Resources, and I contributed ‘jack of all trades’ skills to our family business. Eventually I became a stay at home mom and a sidelines support to my husband. I am very proud of my roll as wife and mother and grateful for having had the privilege of raising our daughter. Investing time in a life rather than a career was a choice that did not come without sacrifices, but one that ultimately was not a hard decision. Sometimes I think about how different life might have been if I continued on with my career or if I had not encouraged my husband to sell our business and take early retirement during our daughter’s last years of high school. Those were sliding door moments that could have made a world of difference in our lives. But then, I look at my wonderfully average life and know that I made the right choices.
During my years as homemaker and mother, I developed a lot of hobbies and interests and I think back on all the time, effort, passion and commitment I devoted to learning each new thing, just to become GOOD at it.
There was a desire, a need or a purpose behind everything I have ever achieved. Those same things now contribute to a satisfying retirement life. Trial and error produced many successes and failures throughout my lifetime, and I accept all of that as part of the learning process. Building a good life is not easy and it certainly is not instant.
I have not, and will never be great at any one thing, but I am happy with my level of accomplishment because I give 100% effort for the time I choose to invest in the things I care about. When I take a look at the sum total of everything I do well, I feel satisfied, but also a bit AVERAGE. That word has a negative connotation in our ‘don’t settle for less than excellent’ society, but my contention is that a life filled with periods of excellence stitched together with average achievements can lead to a very rewarding life.
We live in a world where everyone thinks they are special, where seeking attention and vying for greatness with mediocre talents have become a national sport. Statistics show that only about 1% of people in any given field will ever achieve true greatness, which means the rest of us are destined to a pretty average life.
Contrary to popular belief, average is not a bad word. Many of you probably fall into the same category, whether you like to admit it or not. Not everyone can have a singular goal and be in constant pursuit of excellence to the point of greatness. To put things into perspective, consider how many hours Serena Williams had to play tennis to become great. In Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell states that it takes “10,000 hours of deliberate practice” to become an expert at anything.
We are not likely to devote 10,000 hours to any one thing during our lifetime, but, we can string enough average successes together to create a very satisfying life that is filled with excellent moments. Settling for good enough does not mean quitting, and average does not equate to being a slacker, committed to nothing, and going nowhere. Average means you are making an effort and moving forward. With a little self validation and a lot of gratitude, average can feel pretty wonderful.
I woke up today to an average day in my average life and it feels good!