Throughout our personal and professional lives, we continually encounter individuals who believe they’re better than we are. One would think such a competition would cease once we all graduated from high school. But the game continues – though the rules adjust accordingly – known in the psychological community as the “better-than-average-effect” or BTAE.
In short, the better-than-average-effect is the tendency for individuals to perceive that their abilities, behaviors, physical attributes and personality traits are far superior when compared to those who are deemed simply “average” among them.
I think it’s important to define what it means to be average, though that in and of itself is challenging. Why? Because the internet has labeled “average” people as something bad.
According to several misguided posts, average people are lazy, unaccomplished, irresponsible time wasters who never have any money or real focus.
Personally, I take offense to such outlandish labeling.
If someone were to ask me what kind of a man I was, do you know what my answer has and will always be? I’m just average. Which is somewhat ironic given the fact that I’m so far removed from the antiquated, stereotypical definition of what society believes a man should be.
As my “average” self looks out over the sea of individuals I interact with on a daily basis, those who most certainly have adopted the better-than-average-effect, I realize how so many of us have a skewed perception of our own strengths.
While BTAE might be useful when trying to land a new job or overcome difficult obstacles, it often makes us underestimate our problems and keeps us from truly ever fixing what we need to fix – always striving for more in a pathetic attempt to avoid being labeled “average”.
How sad that we often forget that the “average” people in this world are the doers, the caregivers. They assign greater value to their relationships over personal status and materials.
They selflessly share their time, compassion and blessings, rather than hoarding them with a plethora of excuses.
They understand the importance of adding promise to someone’s life, instead of making them feel inadequate through behaviors such as BTAE.
What if, instead of always striving to be better than average, we just spent our days focused on being present in our own lives and satisfied that we’ve done the best we possibly could regardless of the circumstance. Maybe that would label you average to some, but the way in which I view average people, your life would be anything but ordinary.