Quinn Minute – What is the bell-shaped curve?

Published 6:41 am Wednesday, November 29, 2023

By Rix Quinn

There’s increasing emphasis for both private and public sectors to focus on higher-scoring people in certain skills. This clearly eliminates 50 percent of the population who fall on the left side of the “bell-shaped curve.”

And what is this “curve?” It’s a scientific graph that resembles a mountain range. The top of this mountain represents the largest percentage of our population.

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Let’s say, for example, we want to graph “athletic proficiency,” although why we’d want to graph anything is beyond me. (This also explains where I rank on the graph.)

The left slope of the graph represents those who fall “below average.” The descending slope means “the further the drop below average, the fewer people in that category.”

The right side of the descending curve represents “above average.” This means the lower you fall on the right slope, the better athlete you are. And the better you are, the fewer people will share your skill level.

Here’s the point: My goal is to rank “average” in every skill category.

Remember, the closer someone falls to average, the more opportunities. One can buy average-sized clothes, or expect to live about 77.28 years. That is great news, unless that person is already 78.  

But if you get too far above average, people might expect great things. You’ll expend so much effort reaching your potential you won’t have time for fun stuff, like painting your mustache red for the holidays.

So I’m happy near the middle of this mountain range, where there are lots of people who enjoy the view, and aren’t excited about an exhausting climb.