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If You Want Average Results, Follow the Rules of Average

In a previous post  I wrote —

The law of average states that the operating system of life is designed to work for as many people as possible. Possessing this knowledge allows for infinite modifications.

This is perhaps the great game of life—to understand when to modify the operating system and when to go with the flow.

Too much modification makes life difficult. You end up spending all your time swimming upstream (see also: going against the grain, fighting the crowd, other metaphors.) Sometimes it’s best to simply go along for the ride, conserving your energy for other modifications.

Too little modification, however, makes life a commodity. You lose your individuality; you fail to stake out enough of a claim. You become, well, unremarkably average.

In writing the new book, I often came back to this concept of average. Towards the end of the final chapter I included this sentence:

“The many systems you encounter throughout life are designed for average people. If you want average results, follow an average plan.”

Here’s the thing about systems—they are always designed for the lowest common denominator. If you’re in charge of HR policy for a Fortune 500 company, you need to create rules that work for as many of your employees as possible. Average is your built-in constraint. Average must be accommodated for your entity to function.

So what if you don’t want to be average? Then you need to follow some different rules! Or perhaps you need to write some rules of your own.

This is true in so many parts of life.

It’s also true in personal finance, as I wrote in a different post that received a strong reaction. “You’re really shaking things up here,” someone replied. “Good!” I said. That’s the goal.

If you want average results, follow average systems. If you want something exceptional, or even just different, you need to find another way.