Why Be Normal?
I wanted to call out a concept that is massively important to me because 1) It’s the first chapter of the most transformational books I’ve ever read, “The Promise Of A Pencil” by Adam Braun, and 2) My good friend John Piasta brought it up in conversation and made me question my understanding about it. The thought is - Do people want to stand out from the crowd? Do people want to achieve and contribute, and be more than average? I always thought the answer is “Yes” without having a second thought, but today I’m reconsidering it.
I’m cut from the cloth where I have always wanted to excel. I’m a competitor that constantly wants to push the boundary for myself and what I think is possible. This also means that my happiness and identity is wrapped up in how much I’m creating or contributing to society. It’s what I authentically enjoy doing and it motivates me to think and desire bigger. It can certainly lead to disappointment when you fall short, but when approached correctly I think ambition can be very healthy.
However I’m realizing that guess what… There are people that are not like me. They are content in the simplicities of their own life, present in its richness and at peace with their circumstances. They don’t desire to be anything more than average. And that is okay! I don’t want to impose judgment on this, I think it’s an amazing gift to know what makes you happy and to live in alignment with that. I don’t expect that anyone dedicates their life to anything other than what makes them happy, but I do hope that they have the perspective to know what is available to them and what exists around them. For example I was shocked to learn that, if you want to be in the top 1% of income earners in the world, you need to make $52,000 a year. Hopefully that helps contextualize your privilege and good fortune.
There’s no right answer here, there’s just what’s right for you. And to integrate this into your life I want to ask you the question that Adam Braun asks in the first chapter of his book - “Why be normal?” And think about how that lands for you. Do you find yourself justifying why it’s okay to be normal, or do you feel pulled to do more to step outside of your comfort zone?
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