As you are tempted to do that IQ test when a window pops up on your computer daring you to see if you can beat Einstein’s score of 160-190 points, you put your intelligence on trial. At the very least, you hope you have an above average mind, if not one of a genius. If the score is great, you proudly wear your ‘I’m above average shirt’. But, if things don’t look so good in the brain department… the ‘smart Aleck’ in you eats humble pie. Honestly, some of us don’t even dare to do that test for fear of finding out how simple-minded we are.
We are all familiar with Albert Einstein, the German physicist and philosopher of science, who was super intelligent. There are also many others like him: William James Sidis (IQ 250-300), an American young boy who attended Harvard at the age of 11, mastered over forty languages and had exceptional mathematical abilities, and Kim Ung-Yong a Korean civil engineer (IQ 210) who could speak fluently when he was 6 months old and was a guest student in Physics at Hanyang University at the age of just 3. I think we would all agree that their intelligence is above average, and we call them geniuses.
Parents, don’t get depressed if your kids don’t talk at 6 months in 10 languages. Look at the bright side: this way you still get to feel you are smarter than they are… at least till they become teenagers, and then they think they are Einstein.
But, being an ABOVE AVERAGE person doesn’t have anything to do with your intelligence. You don’t have to be a genius to realize that nobody aspires to be AVERAGE. Nobody wants to be an average boss, employer, husband, wife, parent, sibling, neighbor. In our world of superlatives, we dream to have the best job, the best looking spouse, the smartest kid, the greatest career, the most romantic wedding, just the best of everything.
But, the reality is that most of us don’t consider ourselves to be an average person anyway. A lot of us have a higher opinion of ourselves than we ought to. We often need to reevaluate ourselves not based on the lowest criteria, or our comfort zone, or based on the average Joe and Jane, but based on some higher standards.
Here are some things that are said about an average person:
The average person
- hates their job because of their boss
- gives less the more he makes
- is in debt, because they spend more than their income
- is a few pounds overweight
- doesn’t engage with their children more than 7 hours a week (this mostly applies to working parents)
- doesn’t spend quality time with their spouse
- doesn’t have healthy communication with their spouse
- puts their marriage at risk because of unwise decisions
- has a hard time asking for forgiveness
- knows what is healthy, but does what is easy
An ABOVE AVERAGE person has character
We can be an average person and just slide through life, or we can choose to be different and to make a difference wherever we are at: in our community, at work, in our neighborhood, at the supermarket, at the post office, in traffic, in our home. The little choices we make decide who we are and have a great impact on who those around us will become.
Once I was in a meeting with a bunch of students, and the question was asked, ‘What is character?’ I remember the answer a young girl gave: ‘Character is what you do when you’re in the dark, when no one sees you’. To be an ABOVE AVERAGE person starts with your character and the decisions you make that flow from the heart and that are not dictated by a set of circumstances.
Men, when you are among your buddies, do you make fun of your wife because you found an audience to laugh at your foolish jokes? Women, do you criticize your husband in public, embarrassing him and making him feel smaller than a mouse? When you are at work, do you go with the flow and make wrong choices just because everybody does this and they get away with it and so should you?
It’s said that Integrity is the heart of character. Here is how somebody defined it: ‘Integrity is choosing your thoughts and actions based on values rather than personal gain’. What does that look like practically? Here are some tips:
- Don’t follow the crowd. When your co-workers criticize your colleague or your boss, don’t sit and nod in agreement. Stand up and stop the gossip. Remember, if they do that to someone else, more than likely they will do it to you as well.
- Don’t take short cuts. Never skirt the law. Do things right even if it takes longer. Then you will never live in fear, hiding your short term solutions.
- Don’t lie. Not to your boss. Not to your spouse. Not to your child. Not to yourself. “One lie is enough to question all truths”. Once you lose trust it is hard to earn it back.
- Don’t let your mind go places it shouldn’t. Be faithful to your spouse even in your mind.
- See the best in people. I challenged myself while I was going through university to find something to appreciate in all my professors. And I did, even in the most arrogant or boring ones. I was able to find something that I enjoyed or respected about them. It made my experience a better one.
- Don’t judge. Look at yourself first before you start criticizing someone else. Don’t assume you know everything that’s going on in that person’s life. If you need to judge, judge the wrong-doing, not the person’s character. We all have our days.
- Be respectful. Be it the president or the beggar around the corner, treat them both with courtesy. (When you are trustworthy in small matters, you will be trusted in important matters.)
- Be humble. Humility doesn’t mean I’m bad and everyone else is good. It means you are free from pride. When you do things well and people appreciate you, ask yourself: “Do I become more confident or more arrogant?”
- Be a learner. Learn from the best, learn from the least. Don’t let pride get in the way. A few years ago, I had to translate from English into Romanian in front of a big crowd. After the meeting was over, a gentleman approached and gave me a sermon on how I should have translated differently. I wish I could tell you that I was grateful for the opportunity to grow. But, mature as I was, I told the gentleman :” Why didn’t you translate in my place?” I heard what he had to share, but my pride didn’t want to listen and learn. The reality is that to this day, his words have made a difference in how I translate today. If I could only be a learner more often, I might avoid a lot of mistakes in life. So, when unsolicited advice comes your way, see if there’s anything you can learn. Also, get comfortable seeking counsel from those you respect.
An ABOVE AVERAGE person exceeds expectations
We all have expectations. A wife expects for the husband to read her mind and do the dishes without her asking for them to be done. A husband expects for the wife to be understanding when he’s late from work. A child expects for mom and dad to give undivided attention when they show off their newest trick. A boss expects their employees to be efficient and show up at work on time. An employee expects a higher position in the company and a raise. We have expectations from others, but others have expectations from us as well.
As I heard someone say: “An average person will try to meet the expectations. An above average person will exceed the expectations.” How would your world look if you went above and beyond being average? What if you volunteered to do those dishes without being asked, read a story to your kids, gave a night off to your spouse to be pampered? What if you asked your boss: ‘Is there anything else I could do?’ on your way out to go home, willing to take the risk of having to return back to your desk. What if instead of retaliation, you decided to do something kind to the one who offended you? What if you asked for forgiveness first, instead of waiting for days for the other one to admit it’s their fault?
What if? How would your world look if you started not just to meet some expectations, but to exceed expectations?
An ABOVE AVERAGE person knows balance.
These people are good at balancing time, treasure and talents.
- They maximize their time at work (time is money, but not at home)
- They leverage their time with the family. Here time is relationship. Invest in people more than assets, because the legacy will live longer.
- They don’t stay idle, but they see time as valuable because you can never get it back.
- They don’t spend even 101% of their income. They know that debt is lack of freedom.
- They have a realistic budget and live by it
- They save money for retirement
- They work toward having an emergency fund
- They are transparent
- They are generous
Talents (your natural abilities)
- They try to discover and use their natural abilities
- They use their talent to bring joy, help and encouragement to others. Eleanor Roosevelt once said: ”When you cease to make a contribution, you begin to die.”
- They don’t stagnate, they find ways to grow and learn.
- They use their skills to better others, not to hurt or deceive those around them.
There are so many more things that could be added to the list here to describe an ABOVE AVERAGE person. I know it may be overwhelming to think about changing all these areas of your life at once. The reality is that you don’t need to, because to become a person ABOVE AVERAGE is not about changing a few habits here and there, it’s about a change of heart and mind. It’s about living not just with now in mind, but considering the effects for later. Then, it will become second nature to you, rather than having to force yourself to behave in a certain way.
So, here is my challenge for you to wrestle with: in the quiet of your mind, look deep down and evaluate where you find yourself at. Maybe you are content with how things are at the moment. The question is, are you just meeting somebody’s expectations (if that), or are you aiming to exceed their expectations, in every area of your life? If you are, that makes you an ABOVE AVERAGE person. This is something that Einstein, one of those above average minds, understood when he said, “Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value.”