Have you ever watched a talk online and been so inspired by it, that you watched it again straight away?

A friend shared a TED talk by Shawn Achor called ‘The happy secret to better work’, and I LOVED it. As soon as I had watched it once, I watched it again 🙂

‘The cult of average’

In his very insightful (and very funny) talk, one of things he touches on is what he calls ‘The cult of average’.

If we study what is average…

GraphHe starts by showing a graph like the one to the right, and says that one of the first things we teach people in business is how, in a statistically valid way, do we eliminate those not following the curve. How do we eliminate the outliers so we can find the line of best fit? But we’re interested in potential, if we’re interested in our own potential, our business’s and that of our clients – for productivity or energy or creativity, what we’re doing is we’re creating the cult of the average with science.

…we will remain merely average

And what he suggests and what positive psychology puts forward, is that if we study what is merely average, we will remain merely average.

Then instead of deleting those positive outliers, what we should be doing is asking, why? Why are they so high above the curve? Whatever it is, instead of removing them, what we could be doing is studying them. By doing so, we may discover information on how to move the entire average up.

And by that token, if we share only what is ‘average’ in our business, then we are missing out in revealing our potential.

We recently sent a ‘news’ email to our clients, and one of the things we highlighted was that our clients are in safe hands – the security and stability of our 300+ clients’ gift voucher websites is always a priority at SK Chase; it is critical to our business that they are secure and able to handle high volumes of gift voucher sales at all times.

In order to demonstrate this, I shared an ‘average’ stat: on average a gift voucher is sold through our software every 2 minutes. But if we’re interested in potential – in the potential of our team, our software and our business – I could also have also shared that on 23 December 2014 a gift voucher was sold via our software every 15 seconds!

I’m not saying that we’ll never use averages again (in fact, we will be, because they are in our next infographic), they absolutely have a place and help us to manage expectations, but what if we said – yes – this is the average AND here’s what’s possible too; our potential and your potential.

Because …who wants to be just average anyway?