"Mom, Dad, I’ve made a decision. I want you to know something."

The 17-year-old boy faced his parents. The parents waited for the pronouncement. What could be coming? Anything. This was serious.

"I have decided that I want to just be an average guy," the young man said. "Is that OK with you? I just want to go to an average college. I just want to be an average person."

The father, a new friend of mine, told me this story recently. When his son stated his intention — and requested approval — to be average, the dad knew that it wasn’t the moment to challenge the boy’s thinking. Clearly, the young man had worried about this, it was a moment of crisis, a moment of self-doubt.

Self-doubt during a moment of crisis? (I wonder what that’s like?)

There’s so much pressure on young people these days. Who can blame this young man for asking that the expectations be reduced?

The Search For Average
But time passed, and eventually father and son decided to take a look at the boy’s list of colleges. The son had come up with a list of average colleges.

(What are "average colleges," anyway? Not the big brand names, I guess.)

So dad sat at the computer, with son riding shotgun. Dad called up the website of the first college and flashed through the pages. Then the second — page-page-page-page-page. Then the third — he flew through the sites.

"What are you looking for?" asked his son.

"These are the schools that you called average," said the dad. "I’m just looking for where these schools say that they are looking for average students."

Of course, no school sees itself as average. And they don’t see their students that way either.

"Oh," said his son. "I get it."