Michael Vick is Average

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Michael Vick can do wonders on a football field, but don't think of him as an anomaly. He is just like you and me. Average.

How can that be? In the 2004 regular season, Vick led the Atlanta Falcons to an 11 and 5 record while passing for 2,313 yards. Perhaps most amazing of all, he ran for 902 yards with an average 7.5 yards per carry while the NFL's leading running back, Curtis Martin, averaged 4.6 yards per carry. Nothing average about that! Truly, Michael Vick is an extraordinarily talented, gifted, and capable athlete that shines brilliantly on the football field. You and I certainly can't compete with that.

Fortunately, we don't have to. That's the beauty of being average. On a scale of zero to ten, 5 is average. We're all given a different mix of strengths and abilities. While we might be a 0 in one area (like me on a football field), we're likely 10 in another area (like Michael Vick is on the football field). Or maybe we have two strong talents, one at an 8 and another at a 7. Zero, 8, and 7 averages out to ... 5. Average.

When we see Michael Vick on the football field, we really don't care what he can't do. I'm not going to imagine for a moment what his zeroes are, because it really doesn't matter. Michael has (1) discovered his key talents and (2) is applying them daily.

We, on the other hand, continually worry about "fixing" ourselves where we are below average. "I can't diagram a sentence." "I speak with an accent." "I can never remember where I put my glasses." So what? We'll never enjoy all we can from life if we spend our time working on the weaknesses. We need to find ways to tap into our strengths, to (1) identify our 8's, 9's, and 10's, and then (2) put them to work for us every day.

The Gallup pollsters have done research over decades that show top performers are not those that repair their weaknesses. Instead, top performers discover their strengths and then sharpen and polish them to make them even better. In the resulting 2001 book, Now, Discover Your Strengths, the authors Marcus Buckingham and Donald O. Clifton list 34 strengths that everyone enjoys in some combination.

Michael Vick has found at least one of his strengths, and it's a thrill for the rest of us to see him apply it. Whether he's unloading a bullet of a pass, executing a draw play, or dancing his way past an army of defenders, we're excited to watch. But what about us? We're meant to be more than just spectators in the game of life.

You are really great at something; have you found it yet? Alan Opdyke of Snellville, Georgia wins awards for breeding guppies. Bill Porter of Portland, Oregon became a top salesman despite his cerebral palsy. Michael Vick is lucky because he found -- with the help of coaches and friends -- something he is good at while relatively young. Yet late bloomers are all around us. Charles Hurme won the USTA National Senior Hard Court Tennis Championship when he was 90. Just because you haven't found your 10 yet doesn't mean you don't have it in you.

If you're still thinking I must be writing about someone besides you, that you have no talents and abilities above a 5, you're wrong. You're not inadequate, you're just chicken.

Maybe you're reluctant to try new things. Maybe you're afraid to get hurt, physically or emotionally. Maybe you're terrified to discover another thing you're not good at. What if Edison had chickened out after his 999th try at discovering how to make a light bulb?

Accept the fact that you're average and do something positive with it. Stop wasting time working on abilities at which you'll never be exceptional. Shift your efforts to trying things that interest you. Act on your curiosity and desire. Pay attention when people pay you a "Wow" compliment. Take a chance on yourself. Challenge yourself to find the excellence within you. Don't ever let anyone imply that you are "just" average. Find your strengths, and then have the courage to apply, hone, and polish them. Stand Out. Excel.

It's unlikely that we'll ever join Michael Vick in the huddle, but that doesn't mean we can't have a ball every day. We may all be average, but in some way we're also extraordinary as well. Find and apply your "extra."

? 2005 Paul Johnson. All rights reserved.

Note: This article is available for reprint at no charge. We only ask that you include our copyright notice in your reprint, along with the About the Author (byline) information we provide at the end of the article.

Paul Johnson of Panache and Systems LLC consults and speaks on business strategy for systematically boosting sales performance using Shortcuts to Yes?. Check out more salesforce development tips at

Call Paul direct in Atlanta, Georgia, USA at (770) 271-7719.

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