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The tyranny of mediocrity

  • By Alan Knott-Craig
  • April 4, 2011

Mediocrity is the cousin of relativism. “We’re not the fastest, but we’re not the slowest.” “We don’t have the best service, but we’re better than most.” “We’re not the market leaders, but at least we’re not last.” “I’m not the best dad in the world, but I’m not the worst.”

Relativism is the crutch that mediocre people use to get through life.

Excellence doesn’t mean perfection. It means striving to do the best job you possibly can, in everything you do. It means being open to criticism, and fixing mistakes. It’s means learning. Most importantly, it’s means chasing absolute goals, and not measuring ourselves against anyone else.

Our goals are in our heads. They are dreams, and they can only be corrupted if we allow the vast mass of people who accept mediocrity in the world to interfere.

Some people find it arrogant if you say your goal is excellence. “What about people who just can’t do it?” This is the major reason people do not overtly strive for being the best. Social pressure to not make useless people look bad.

In the words of the fatman, “BAH!” Everyone has an innate talent for something. If you find yourself not exceeding at something, change what you’re doing. How do you know whether you’re doing what you’re good at? You love every minute!

I was a useless auditor. Auditing just is not in my basket of God-given talents (strange, I know.)

So I don’t audit.

If you are going to allow yourself to be ruled by the benchmarks and opinions of the crowd, then prepare yourself for a life of mediocrity. One day you will be retired and lying in your bed, and you will have a deep feeling of dissatisfaction in your heart.

You will know that you could have worked harder, loved more passionately, and spent more time with your kids. The usual excuses will coming screaming to the fore to make you feel better.

But you will know, deep down, that your life was a failure. Not because you did not achieve greatness. Because you didn’t try to.