Sunday, October 24, 2010

Average Success is Normal

And everyone is entitled to it.

Now this runs counter to most modern thought, more or less. Because “Success” has been defined as something out of the ordinary, something extra-ordinary and extreme.

But look over the statistics for any society and you’ll find, relative to their norms, that the majority of people out there are making a decent living and scraping by.  There are always a very, very small number who are in serious trouble as well as a very, very small number who making an outrageous success of themselves.

Even politics is set up that way. There are usually two parties, one in and one out. And they swap places with regularity. In America, the liberals are wanting to say that everything is a “right” and government should prop up everyone to make sure that they have what they need. Conservatives, meanwhile are fighting for the right of people to wreck their own lives if they want to and to take the chances to make a ruddy fortune if they can.

(Our latest recession is just a follow-up to the idea that housing is a “right”, so government and financial institutions should give loans to people who can’t pay them back so they can live in houses much bigger than they need. And since that didn’t work exactly right – prices got too high – and so the solution was that the financial trading of commodities should be better regulated, as well as passing some law that everyone should get health care as another “right”. All to improve the lot of the average person.)

Some countries, like Norway, have it set up so that 50% of your income goes into the public coffers and if you ever lose your job, you instantly get an apartment and a car to drive. Huge safety net.

This idea that it’s easy to be an average success. There are all sorts of people trying to raise the standard of living for everyone. And if you go along with what the majority are doing, you’ll have a nice life and live out your years with no particular problems – and you can watch all the free TV you want with cheap beer and fast food.

Of course, this  idea of success as normal is supported in the majority of the self-help books. Earl Nightingale stated in his “Strangest Secret” that the economy was set up to keep pace with the slowest ship in the fleet. Dorothea Brande (mentioned by Nightingale in that recording), said to “Act as though it were impossible to fail.” 

Because when you need a solution to a problem it generally pops up if you don’t bat it away. This is that same intuition we are all built with from Day One. The one which keeps you safe most of the time.

Jesus the Christ gave it out in his famous Sermon on the Mount, “Seek and you will find, Ask and it will be given.”

Of course this runs contrary to all sorts of conventional wisdom. But you could consider that people are telling you that life is a struggle and the rich should pay more so that we can all live in comfort, so taxes are higher when you are an outrageous success, and so on. TV is filled with stories about how tough life is. (The current fad is cop shows and forensic science wizards who use computer tools that don’t exist yet.) If you look at any sport, you’ll find that all the rules are designed to make sure that being average is your best way to success.

While the tabloids are full of stories about people who are extreme in one way or another, they are always contrasting this with an average, safe, normal life.

The trick is to figure out what normal is and then do that. Not really a trick, though. Just pick up any how-to book and then scale it back about 15% or so.

Everyone wants you to be a plodding success and live out your life in relative comfort – relative to your neighbors on each side of you.

The safest route in this society is to not stand out, but just be “normal”. Do what you are expected to do. Dress like everyone else. And then you can live a very successful life of being average.

And if you want some excitement, then ask for some solutions which will make you stand out in some way. (Like the guy who put a KKK-draped figure on his lawn with another figure being lynched from his front-yard tree – all as Halloween decorations. Oh, he also flew a Confederate flag all year round.)

Or do the homework to make a fortune and then be pestered by people wanting you to give donations, or tax people saying you know owe even more. But guess what – people who have high-income lives tend to move into areas where they are average with their neighbors…

I’m just saying that life is easy. Success is guaranteed. All as long as you just want to travel in a pack with the regular herd around you.