Even in Primary 1, I wasn’t an average performer, which was largely due to the motivation (fear probably more appropriate) my Mum gave me. She was a stay-at-home mum and spent plenty of time and effort to monitor my school work.
We would do spelling from day till night until I got the entire list of words correct. Moreover, she had really high expectations of me. I would often get caned when I return home with a 98 mark for Math (the 2 marks lost are often due to Carelessness or if you know me by now, a tinge of Arrogance)
My Mum believed that academic excellence would give her children a significant advantage in life. This was also perhaps influenced by the fact that she was somewhat forced to stop her education after Secondary School to supplement her family’s income. She had good intentions, but I did feel miserable at times in those growing up years.
“John/Peter/Dumb/Dumber only scored 70 marks but their parents are so happy and rewarded them with the new Sega Saturn. I scored 98 marks but you keep asking me to look up to Albert/Isaac/Top Scorer who were the few who scored full marks. Why can’t you just compare me with the average, that guy Mr Average?“
I whined, just like what many of you will also do when incessantly compared to a seemingly superior being. Mr Average seemed like a more reasonable alternative benchmark. However, my Mum continued to ask for more (don’t get me wrong, she was really an above average mother who showered me with lots of love and concern too).
As a result, I have been consistently in the top 5% or 10% of the cohort in academic terms all the way till graduation, which probably also explains why I am doing better than average salary-wise currently. So on hindsight, I was glad my Mum did not relent and continued to benchmark me against higher standards. Moreover, as I grew up, I also realised that Mr Average sets a really low bar, which can easily be cleared by most.
Instead of picking the best seats in the lecture theatre, Mr Average prefers to sit at the back during his undergraduate days. He could then chit chat with Miss Average even though it could be difficult to hear the lecturer clearly. (Seriously, why don’t these people just skip the lecture, I always thought.) He also lacks the initiative to request for a consultation session with the professor even if he has many doubts on the materials taught. As a result, he gets the most average and most common grade: B. If one were getting these grades most of the time, he could struggle to graduate with a second lower honours.
Mr Average also wants to be healthy, athletic and fit. However, instead of exercising at least three times a week, he sits back in his sofa every night with a packet of potato chips and a can of beer in his hands. He prefers to watch drama serials or play computer games till the wee hours of the night, waking up without enough rest and looking like a panda. Drinking coffee/tea/soft drinks more often than plain water, he looks tired, sick and is overweight.
Aiming to be rich and financially independent, Mr Average engages Lady Luck and spends $10 on the lottery every month. If she doesn’t shine on him, he resigns to the 40 hour work week for 40 years. Since budgeting and recording expenses would only make life more painful, he decides to focus on the positive and spends 80% of his income on anything he wants to cheer himself up 20% of the time. The ratio stays the same regardless of his income, be it $2,000 or $20,000. This is Mr Average’s version of the Pareto principles in action.
He is keen on investing, too. However, he needs to have someone around to inform him that the coast is clear or the time is ripe for a killing (he doesn’t know he’s the prey). He believes in the safety of numbers and cannot understand both WHY and HOW personal finance bloggers can save more than 50% of their income and achieve financial independence before 50.
In my opinion, it’s scary to be Mr Average.
Furthermore, it really isn’t that hard to differentiate yourself from him. Spend an hour less on Facebook/Twitter and use that time to study that bit harder to get the B+ or A-. A second upper opens many more doors when you’re looking for a job. Lift your butt from the sofa and start doing some higher intensity burpees thrice a week. Do 20 push-ups before you shower everyday. Sleep an hour earlier and wake up to a glass of plain water half an hour earlier. You would be surprised at your increased energy levels after just two months.
I am also pretty sure our goal resonates with you. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be reading this great blog in office, right? So aim higher. Begin by saving harder and investing smarter than Mr Average. You can then start your own 15 hour work week in due time to work less, and play more. How to do it? It wouldn’t hurt to start off by reading all my posts. 😉