Last week I was sitting in bed, wrapping my brain around a programming problem presented by my newest project. With no warning, someone started pounding on the wall of my RV. No identification, no verbal communication. Just banging on the wall. Within a few seconds someone else started banging on the other side.
Would you open the door? I didn't. I shut my laptop and stayed as quiet as I could. I have light blocking curtains, but I could see that flashlight beams were reaching for the edges of them.
Then I heard someone try to open my driver's side door. It's locked. Then the passenger side. Also locked. I wondered if I remembered to lock the RV door. It gets tried, too, and the intruder can't get in.
If you perform at an average rate, you'll probably have an average life. Yes, there are exceptions, but counting on an exception is a weak plan. If you want an above-average life, you're going to have to perform above at an above average rate.
You don't need to be above average in every single respect. That would be nice, but strong gains are usually made through focus. Someone who is average in every way except for one key skill will probably have a better than average life.
The old way of accruing advantage was accumulating general knowledge. Universities were created because access to experts (teachers) and information (books) were scarce. Getting into a college and having access to those resources (and the ability to absorb some of them) was a valuable thing.
Now we have the internet, so general knowledge isn't very valuable. That's not to say it's worthless, just that the average amount of general knowledge people are working with is so high that's it's hard to really stand out there, and that if you're missing a piece of knowledge, you can quickly and cheaply fill that gap. I know nothing about botany, but I bet that in one day I could learn more than 85% of the general population. In the past that wasn't the case.