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Average: Why "Fitting In" Can Undermine Business Success

Are you fitting in or standing out? Why it's important not to settle.
Average: Why "Fitting In" Can Undermine Business Success
Photo by Crispin Jones / Unsplash

The concept of averageness has become something of a comfort blanket. It’s seen as safe, non-threatening—the proverbial still water that runs deep. But in the realm of business, especially for entrepreneurs and seasoned professionals alike, averageness is not a sanctuary; it's a trap. It's like positioning your ship in the doldrums—a zone of calm waters that sailors once feared because it could hold ships hostage, unable to move due to lack of wind. You’re neither sinking nor moving forward; you’re just stuck.

The Silent Killer: Complacency

Averageness breeds a dangerous mindset: complacency. In the rapid fluctuations of today’s business landscape, the only constant is change. Algorithms update, consumer behavior shifts, and what was groundbreaking yesterday becomes antiquated today. A company that becomes complacent, that rests on its "average" laurels, will find itself playing a never-ending game of catch-up.  People settle, which is why you shouldn’t.

Case in Point: Kodak 

The Kodak moment is a phrase synonymous with capturing something essential, yet the company itself missed its own crucial snapshot in time. Kodak became complacent in its dominance over the photography market and failed to adequately respond to the digital revolution. Their hesitation wasn't just a lapse; it was an allegiance to mediocrity at a time when bold, transformative steps were needed. The result? They went from capturing moments to becoming a cautionary tale.

Rediscovering Exceptionalism

So how do we sidestep the quagmire of mediocrity? The answer lies in the marriage of self-awareness with a keen understanding of your business landscape. Make data-driven decisions but don’t be enslaved by numbers; listen to consumer feedback but don't forget your vision; be adaptive but never lose your essence. 

In a world where everyone has the tools for visibility, where standing out is more challenging than ever, aiming for average is a gamble most businesses can't afford to take. Instead, we should aim to be the outliers, the visionaries, the ones who set rather than follow trends. 

For business owners, the danger of becoming "average" is not just a theoretical concern—it's a palpable, immediate challenge that requires our astute attention and decisive action. Let us not sleepwalk into the inertia of mediocrity, for it is in the exceptional that true success—and, indeed, true satisfaction—lies.

See my article: How to Stand Out When You're Trying to Fit In