The End of Average: Unlocking Our Potential by Embracing What Makes Us Different (Paperback)
Are you above average? Is your child an A 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 come to it or how far we deviate from it.
The assumption that metrics comparing us to an average—like GPAs, personality test results, and performance review ratings—reveal something meaningful about our potential is so ingrained in our consciousness that we don’t even question it. That assumption, says Harvard’s Todd Rose, is spectacularly—and scientifically—wrong.
In The End of Average, Rose, a rising star in the new field of the science of the individual shows that no one is average. Not you. Not your kids. Not your employees. This isn’t hollow sloganeering—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.” This average-size-fits-all model ignores our differences and fails at recognizing talent. It’s time to change it.
Weaving science, history, and his personal experiences as a high school dropout, Rose offers a powerful alternative to understanding individuals through averages: the three principles of individuality. The jaggedness principle (talent is always jagged), 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.
Read this powerful manifesto in the ranks of Drive, Quiet, and Mindset—and you won’t see averages or talent in the same way again.
About the Author
Todd Rose is the director of the Mind, Brain, and Education program at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, where he leads the Laboratory for the Science of Individuality. He is also the cofounder and president of the Center for Individual Opportunity, an organization dedicated to providing leadership around the emerging science of the individual. He lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
“[S]ubversive and readable. . . . What has been called the new science of the individual.”
— New York Times
“Fascinating and engaging. 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 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
“[Rose’s] personal experiences are recounted hearteningly in his book. That alone makes it a worthwhile read for the aspiring nonconformist.”
— The Guardian
“An intriguing view into the evolution and imperfections of our current system . . .”
— Kirkus Reviews
“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 rethink 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
— Dan Heath, co-author of the New York Times bestsellers Made to Stick, Switch, and Decisive
“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
“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 opportunities to find it. This stunning book shows how almost all measures we use reduce complicated individuals to one-dimensional beings...[and] overlook how talent, context, and disposition fold together to create individual uniqueness. I couldn’t put this book down.”
— John Seely Brown, independent co-chair 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
“Rose will change the way you see culture, school, work and everyone around you. Taylorism is officially dead. With compelling stories and an engaging style, he transforms our understanding of who we are and what’s important.”
— Seth Godin, author of We Are All Weird and Stop Stealing Dreams
“The future belongs to enterprises that learn how to value individual employees and individual students, and Dr. Rose’s eye-opening account of the fascinating new science of the individual shows a practical path to the adoption of individuality.”
— Nolan Bushnell, founder of Atari, Inc., and author of Finding the Next Steve Jobs
“A must read for anyone who serves or creates solutions for other human beings. It serves not only as a guide for how to rethink our systems but in many ways is the best self-help book I’ve ever read.”
— Jim Shelton, Chief Impact Officer, 2U, Inc., and former United States Deputy Secretary of Education