The Benefits of Average Performance
We live in a performance-based society, as any adult can tell you. Our culture is actually much more interested in what someone can do rather than who they are. And yet, our social values of individualism, freedom, self-expression, and "believing in yourself" are among our most cherished ideals.
We encourage children to dream big about who they want to be when they grow up, telling them they can become anything they desire. So, naturally, they dream of being astronauts, pop stars, doctors, firefighters, and sports figures. Some kids want to skip the whole career thing and just be rich and famous.
Isn't it ironic that kids fantasize about growing up to have some of the most performance-based professions on earth?
Our Culture's Problem with Being Average
It seems clear to me that we have a culturally neurotic relationship with doing vs being. No wonder so many people have performance anxiety, and no wonder so many of us struggle with perfectionism. We're given few role models for a balanced perspective on how to be ourselves and how to meet our responsibilities.
My experience is that successful treatment for almost any mental health issue tends to focus on pulling towards the middle.
Mood disorders, like anxiety, are powered by unbalanced, all or nothing thinking that I like to call "if-then," and it goes something like this:
- If I'm not the best then I'm the worst.
- If I can't do something perfectly then I'm a total failure and should just quit.
- If I can't be perfect then why should I try at all?
Real life doesn't occur in black and white extremes; everything in life, including doing a good job, is painted a shade of imperfect grey. The bad news is, there's absolutely nothing we can do about this. The good news is, we can learn to free ourselves from the prison of having to do everything right and learn to be content doing them "right enough."
When Being Average is a Good Thing
There's some serious benefits to doing an average job, including:
- An increase in overall productivity -- One of the worst things about perfectionism is being paralyzed into not doing anything. Actually getting things done because you're not trying to do them perfectly is a wonderful feeling. I love checking completed tasks off my to-do list.
- Feeling the flow -- I sometimes get to a place where I'm no longer managing tasks at all, I'm just moving from one to the next with my appraising brain turned off. This is called workflow, and being in it can make a day of responsibility go by quickly.
- Getting to choose what you're not going to do -- Since I can't do everything, or make everything I do perfect, I get to decide what I'm going to postpone or simply not do at all. Planning to not do something is a completely legitimate part of being a responsible adult, yet so many feel they can't say no and have to try to do everything.
- Knowing when to stop -- One of the problems with performance anxiety is you don't know when to stop, because you don't have a frame of reference for what constitutes "good enough." Being average also means learning when it's time to call it a day.
I'm seeing more and more benefits to average performance as I go along, not the least of which is that not having to be perfect feels pretty awesome.
Weber, G. (2014, October 8). The Benefits of Average Performance, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, June 19 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/treatinganxiety/2014/10/the-benefits-of-average-performance