About being strong, good-looking, and above average

How do I love me? Let me count the ways:

  • Ethics: Most business people tend to rate themselves as “more ethical” than others in business.  In fact, in a 1997 national survey asking people how they would rate their own morals and values on a scale from 1 to 100 (100 = perfect), 50% of those people rated themselves 90 or above.  A scant 11% rated themselves as 74 or less.

  • Professional Competence: The vast majority of business managers (90%) rate their performance as superior to their peers and most surgeons believe the mortality rate of their patients is lower than average.

  • Virtues: Most high school students in the Netherlands rate themselves as more friendly, honest, and reliable than the average high school student.

  • Driving: The majority of drivers (including those who have been hospitalized for car accidents) perceive themselves to be safer drivers than the average driver.

  • Intelligence: Most people consider themselves to be more intelligent, more attractive, and less prejudiced than most people.  Almost comically, when outperformed, most people consider the other person to be a “genius.”

  • Tolerance: According to a 1997 Gallup poll, 14% of white Americans rated their prejudice against Blacks as a 5 (on a scale of 1 – 10), although they rated 44% of other Whites as being more prejudiced (5 or above).

  • Parental Support: The majority of adults perceive themselves as giving more support to their aging parents than their siblings.

  • Health: Most college students believe that they will outlive their predicted age of death by 10 years.

  • Insight: Most of us tend to believe that we understand others better than they understand us. We also tend to believe than we understand ourselves better than other people understand themselves.

  • Freedom from Bias: People tend to see themselves as freer from the effects of bias than most other people.

The psychology term for this is illusory superiority.  Examples came from Self In A Social World.

It’s hard to hear that you are average or even below average, isn’t it? Kind of stings a little to hear we aren’t perfect.

At first, like almost everybody, I thought, “Yes, but I really am above average!” Then I realized I was doing it again.

So I decided to gamble on the opposite: I now just assume I’m below average.

It serves me well.

I listen more. I ask a lot of questions. I let myself get curious about things.

I don’t think I’m surrounded by idiots. I assume most people are smarter than me. It is a true statement: everyone else has a different lived experience. 

To assume you’re below average is to admit you’re a beginner. It confirms you are learning. It gives you the gift of a student’s mind. It keeps your focus on present practice and future possibilities, and away from any past accomplishments.

There isn’t a young pianist out there, if they are honest, that when they started out playing Chopsticks, ever thought they had what it took to make it to Carnegie Hall.

Most people are so worried about posturing, faking it until they make it, that they never do anything really great.

They self-edit. They opt to remain polished and share the correct answer, versus getting messy, stuck, and vulnerable by learning something new.

They only move one brick back and forth.

They cut themselves off from interesting opportunities.

Most people are so worried about doing something great that they never do anything at all.

You destroy that sense of stuckness when you think of yourself as such a beginner that just doing anything is an accomplishment.

Or even better, it’s just a small experiment.