Mediocrity pervades every facet of our existence.
We see mediocrity at work. It’s the person, maybe you, who does just enough to stay out of trouble with the boss but never enough to be recognized for their efforts. Instead of using time productively, they stare mindlessly at a computer screen wasting time, checking their email again, rereading the same messages for the third time.
As long as the required tasks for the day are completed, there’s no reason to work harder than what’s required. It isn’t like you’re going to earn more money by working any harder. All that matters is that the boss is out of your hair. Then everything will be fine.
Our schools and colleges are filled with mediocrity. Students are being filled with information that serves no purpose aside from being the answer to a multiple choice question on the next exam. In the words of the Greek author Plutarch:
The mind is not a vessel to be filled but a fire to be kindled.
Poetic words but not true of many students today. Instead of thinking, they memorize and recite facts, formulas and definitions. Students are not being taught how to think, they are being told what to think. This method of “teaching” is mass producing mediocre minds.
This isn’t only the fault of the institutions.Students have no reason to excel. They want to do the minimum amount of work in order to be successful. Maybe it makes sense. Why put forth extra effort to earn an A or B when a C or D will still get you a degree?
Mediocrity lives in our homes and our relationships. Our relationship with our spouse that was once full of passion and excitement now resembles a business arrangement. Instead of lovers, you’ve become partners. The youthful idealism of love has disappeared and been replaced with a big, adult sized pile of shit. What the hell happened? This isn’t what love is supposed to be like but we have accepted it as reality and we follow the status quo belief that passion and lust are not sustainable in a relationship.
We aren’t unhappy but we could be happier.
We go through life putting forth the least amount of effort necessary. If you can spend half of the day at work doing practically nothing without anyone noticing, you’re going to. If you can earn a degree in college with poor grades, you might as well. If you’re kind of happy with your relationship, at least you’re not miserable, right?
There’s no reason to push ourselves to do better when the results will be the same no matter what we do. Good enough is good enough.
Except, it isn’t good enough. If you float through life being mediocre, you aren’t living up to your full potential. You’re missing out on opportunities and the chance to have the life you’ve always desired.
If you wonder why you’re never recognized at work or are always passed up for promotions, try looking inward at your own performance. Is your work mediocre? Are you wasting time? Could you be more productive?
Learning really is fun, if you’re expanding your horizons and perception of the world. Life isn’t a list of facts and statistics and there’s much more to learning than memorization of names and dates. Learning is about understanding who you are in relation to the life you are living. It’s about finding meaning and purpose. Thinking and contemplation are the most crucial aspects of education and, sadly, are missing from our schools. I’ll let you in on a secret, there are no definite answers in life.
If your relationship has become the icon of mediocrity, you have to be the person to change it. Expect resistance from your spouse. They won’t have any idea what hit them and confusion will abound. Persist, rebuild the passion and lust that brought you together. Be dangerous, be spontaneous…wake up the neighbors! The ones across the street! Its okay, they need something to talk about anyways.
Break free from the cycle of average. Kick yourself in the ass and push yourself beyond the limits of your potential. Whatever you do, don’t be mediocre because mediocrity sucks!
Leave normal to the rest of the world, you deserve so much better.
Very inspirational Thank You. I think I will print it out and hang it on my wall as a reminder. I watched the movie “Fire Proof” last night and it was exactly what you are saying about rekindling your relationship with your spouse. I completely recommend it.
I finally got around watching Fireproof (just now, actually) and while the religious overtones aren’t my thing, I think there’s a lot to learn from the movie (though I disagree with the anti-pornography message.) Thanks for recommending it.
This article really made me think about where I am in my relationship. I can definitely relate to living like partners instead of lovers. My boyfriend Ike and I have been together for almost 6 years and there are many times when I wish we could go back to the days of when things were brand new. But I know that time will not reverse itself. I do feel that there are extenuating circumstances that have affected our relationship — health issues that make me feel tired, and ill most of the time. But this article reminded me that I still can make a difference in my love life and life in general.
I loved this post.
One thing I have noticed about those that settle for mediocrity is that they are also the biggest excuse makers and blamers. I used to work with a ton of people that did the bare minimum and were more than willing to let others bail them out of the fire. They were the same people whining they didn’t get salary increases. Huh???
I have been married almost 19 years now. It is all too easy to fall into a routine and take each other for granted. You gave me something to think about!
@caribouskemp: I have not heard of that movie before, I’ll have to remember to check it out some day!
@Erin: Time will never reverse itself but that doesn’t mean that it is impossible to have things exactly the way you want them to be. When relationships evolve over time, there is a certain level of comfort in mediocrity and even though things may not be as passionate as they once were, we feel that it is normal (and maybe it is) for things to be this way. Normal or not, if it isn’t how you want things to be, we must make an effort to change. It may seem forced or fake at first as breaking out of routine always feels this way but over time, if you persist and the desire for change is real, you will see that passion reignited.
@Kris: I absolutly agree with you! It is easy to play the role of victim when your life isn’t exactly how you want it to be. It is difficult to look within yourself as the cause of your “failures”. Once people realize that they are not victims of other people but that they are a victim of themselves, it is only then that they are able to change. By realizing the power and control you have in your own life, you are empowering yourself to change. As long as you feel like you are the product of other people’s decision, that power does not exist and change is not possible.
Maybe I should change the title to my struggle with mediocrity (and I hope this isn’t going to turn into a self pitying Sunday morning rant)
But if there is one thing I have had (and still am) to deal with it is with mediocraty in the workplace. And the dangers involved if you don’t follow into the footsteps of people who think, once they have their diplomas , degrees whatever, they can now safely hide them for the rest of their working life,as it got me fired, shunned, sabotaged and used on several occasions.
It doesn’t matter where you work, for the almighty dollar or your fellow man (education, healthcare etc) if you want to take the extra step, without it turning it into a egotrip, just trying to make something of it here be dragons…
Of course I could (gladly) go on and on (and frequently have ) but I will save that for another time .
Well..thank you for listening , I feel better already :)
Commenting rather late but better late than never, so: great post, and rather inspirational as well. Not sure how exactly I came across your blog but I like what I’ve found.
To comment on mediocrity, I’ve been raised knowing I came from a country that had no opportunities for me. I’m fairly North-American-ized in many many ways, but I realize that nothing will come out of no work, and that’s something my parents instilled in me. So I think a lot of it also comes from your childhood. If you didn’t have to struggle, at least a little bit, you won’t be as eager to work hard to earn what you want to earn. At the end of the day, a life lived in mediocrity is a waste of potential. Much better to burn and crash trying your best than to rot slowly.
growingupblogging: Welcome! Glad you found you way here and thanks for the compliments!
Mediocrity is absolutely a waste of potential but it is so easy to fall into because it is what comes naturally since it is the path of least resistence. People don’t like to struggle for too long and eventually decide it is just easier to accept defeat than to constantly face disappointment during the moments when they “fail”. It is understandable and there are probably many people in this world who are perfectly satisfied with their choice to give up on their pipe dream life. Big dreamers are a small minority and there is a lot of pressure to fit in with all of the mediocrity that surrounds us. People tell us to “get real” and use phrases like “In the ‘Real World’…”…whatever that means! Like we are living in a parallel universe or something.
Thanks for stopping by and I hope to see you around!
Great post. It really is so easily to become content with mediocrity. It’s a daily battle to push yourself above and beyond. But it is a battle that must be won.
“In twenty years from now you will regret the things you didn’t do far more than the things you did. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbour, catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore, dream, discover.”