Are you above average? Is your child an A (or a C) student? Is your employee an introvert or an extrovert? Every day we are measured against the yardstick of averages, judged according to how closely we resemble it or how far we deviate from it. The assumption that metrics comparing us to an average—like development milestones, GPAs, personality assessments, standardized test results, and performance review ratings—reveal something meaningful about our potential is so ingrained in our consciousness that we rarely question it. That assumption, says Harvard’s Todd Rose, is spectacularly—and scientifically—wrong.
In The End of Average, Rose shows that no one is average. Not you. Not your kids. Not your employees or students. This isn’t hollow slogan-eering—it’s a mathematical fact with enormous practical consequences. But while we know people learn and develop in distinctive ways, these unique patterns of behaviors are lost in our schools and businesses which have been designed around the mythical “average person.” For more than a century, this average-size-fits-all model has ignored our individuality and failed at recognizing talent. It’s time to change that.
Weaving science, history, and his experiences as a high school dropout, Rose brings to life the untold story of how we came to embrace the scientifically flawed idea that averages can be used to understand individuals and offers a powerful alternative: the three principles of individuality. The jaggedness principle (talent is never one- dimensional), the context principle (traits are a myth), and the pathways principle (we all walk the road less traveled) help us understand our true uniqueness—and that of others—and how to take full advantage of individuality to gain an edge in life.
This powerful book will forever change how you see averages and talent.
Praise for The End of Average
“ Todd Rose shows that everything we think we know about ‘average’ performance is wrong. In fact, our one-dimensional understanding of achievement—our search for the average score, average grade, average talent—has seriously underestimated human potential. This book is readable, enlightening, and way above average.”—DANIEL H. PINK, author of To Sell Is Human and Drive
“ Fascinating, engaging, and practical. Todd Rose dispels the myth that our success can be divined by a simple number or average, whether a grade, a score in a standardized test, or a ranking at work. The End of Average will help everyone—and I mean everyone—live up to their potential.”—AMY CUDDY, professor at Harvard Business School and author of Presence
“ Todd Rose has achieved a rare feat: he is both provocative and right. He overturns our fundamental assumptions about talent, and offers an empowering way to re-think the world. With exciting stories, fresh data, and bold ideas, this book is far better than average.”—ADAM GRANT, Wharton professor and New York Times bestselling author of Give and Take and Originals
“ Consistently mind-blowing!”—Dan Heath, coauthor of the New York Times bestsellers Made to Stick, Switch, Decisive
“ Todd Rose’s thought-provoking book challenges the explanatory power of the everyday term ‘average,’ opening our minds to new ways of conceptualizing human variation and human potentials.”—HOWARD GARDNER, author of Truth, Beauty, and Goodness Reframed
“ In the midst of a war for talent, we miss huge opportunities to find it. This stunning book shows how almost all the measures we use reduce complicated individuals to one-dimensional beings. As a result, we overlook how talent, context, and disposition fold together to create individual uniqueness. I couldn’t put this book down.”—JOHN SEELY BROWN, independent cochair of Deloitte’s Center for the Edge and coauthor of The Social Life of Information, The Power of Pull, and The New Culture of Learning