Why Do We Associate Everything Negative with Mediocrity?
I want you to think about majority of the content you consume daily. What is it? I don’t know about you guys but my timeline is filled with people that I aspire to be. They embody some kind of perfection I want to attain. This new culture can be the best for us or the worst for us depending on how we choose to approach it. We can respond with insecurity or ambition. However, it can be deeper than that.
Social media can be two sides of the same coin. It’s brought us a lot of good, it’s made the world much smaller, more things accessible and widened the expansion of what we think is possible. But there’s no good without the bad: comparison, lack of contentment with where you are and the subconscious feeling that your life is not good enough. It’s not inherently bad and has now become a natural part of our lives. But it’s the extremes that get all the publicity. It’s created a sense of fake reality that is unattainable for most people.
The fear of mediocrity often stems from comparison and discontentment, sometimes misplaced. Would you even feel mediocre if you hadn’t been exposed to the highlights of other peoples lives? The expectation to be extraordinary is more today than at any other time in history. Having access to unlimited content and information combined with our limited attention, we can’t process everything. Therefore the only ones that break through and catch our attention are the truly exceptional pieces.
Simply having a 9-5 or going to university is looked down upon. Everyone wants to look like they’re going for it by chasing money or becoming an entrepreneur. There is nothing wrong with wanting to venture into that but, equally, there is nothing wrong with being content in a traditional space.
Excellence Is Subjective
We can challenge mediocrity whilst also accepting that more than half of the world is going to be mediocre. Some kinds of excellence are not for everyone plus maybe excellence is subjective.
Excellence seems like something you’d recognize immediately but one thing I’ve noticed is it has to be tailored to you. Everything does really. What is that one thing that you want to achieve for yourself? Not because of other people’s expectations, social standards or even ‘healthy’ comparison. What is excellence to you? I’ve found answering this requires a lot of stillness and introspection and just staying with it. It’ll take time. And maybe it’ll change at different points in your life and that’s okay.
I think I’ve partly found what excellence means for me. It’s in the process. In the joy, I feel churning out one article or completing one project and doing my best on each one. It’s in doing my best, learning and improving. I derive just as much happiness from the process as from the results. I don’t mind losing as long as I see improvement or I feel I’ve done as well as I possibly could.
“Everything in life is relative.” – Anita Lasker-Wallfisch
Embracing Your Mediocrity
We’re all for the most part average people or at least average in most areas of our lives and we’re certainly going to stay that way at most things or even everything. And that’s okay. Mediocrity as a goal, sucks but mediocrity, as a result, is okay.
Accepting that we cannot have 7+ billion incredible genius superheroes on the planet might ease your frustration. Even if we did have 7+ billion geniuses, that would’ve become the ‘new average’ and a different measure would be established. It’s a lose-lose situation.
We’re afraid to accept mediocrity because we believe if we accept it, that’ll be the end. But, it can be our starting point. And even if it’s our end, that’s okay. You don’t have to be extraordinary to have a valuable or meaningful life.
We’ve lost track of what a good normal experience is actually like. Always striving to be better and taking the ordinary for granted. But the ordinary is more time the necessary. Or rather what people think is ordinary anyways, from building a home to being in a steady job. Ordinary things feel ordinary because they are the most important. I’ve learned to ignore society’s standards of what it is to be extraordinary and began to do things for me. Set goals and work towards them but make sure you are doing it for yourself.
The Other Side of Mediocrity
Embracing your mediocrity gives you the mental and emotional capacity to improve. Truly exceptional people are obsessed with improvement which implies they don’t think they’re great to begin with. Being extraordinary is just something the world puts on you, you get to decide who you are and the value you bring. Becoming is better than being.
Napolean Hill said “If you cannot do great things, do small things in a great way”. And this is has to be a case for compounding if I’ve ever seen one. Focusing too much on how you can be exceptional or produce the extraordinary will quickly have you feeling overwhelmed. I find that focusing on the present step and what you can immediately control is a more thoughtful approach to being extraordinary.
The extraordinary is in compounding. It’s not in the sporadic highs or peaks of the journey but in the long haul. It’s in the sequence of minimal events that compound to major gains. I like how Steph Smith puts it:
“Perhaps great is just good but repeatable.”
A Paradox: I find this to be a very paradoxical topic. We can’t have one or the other. That’s why i think attacking mediocre people for just being mediocre is ridiculous. Everyone has to start from somewhere. Focus on not being mediocre might work but it stems from an unhealthy place. The healthy way: focusing on each step, making the littlest and big improvements. One step at a time. Become great at the little things before taking on huge things.
Thank you for reading, I’m open to continuing this conversation on here.