The Prison of Mediocrity

Mediocrity is all around us. It is a world-wide epidemic affecting individuals, enterprises and organizations. Indeed, mediocrity is ubiquitous. I believe mediocrity is a prison that entraps people and steals dreams.It’s the one prison where breaking out is the right thing to do.

I find it disheartening that many people don’t have a burning desire to break out of the mediocrity prison. Many other people feel they once had a passionate desire, but after trying and not getting the desired results they just gave up. Of course they have every excuse you can imagine and the blame is normally pointed at someone else; an excuse that is very limiting. Anyone who is not successful can only blame the person they see in the mirror.

Years ago a very successful man told me he is thankful for mediocrity, because if everyone aimed higher, there would be no room at the top.He had a point. Fair or not, your success from an outsider’s perspective is typically graded by comparing you to other people. Most people can dramatically improve their lifestyle and personal fulfillment by trying just a little harder. How many people would have a better life if their health, relationships and income were just 10% better? It’s usually not much of a stretch to have a lot more of everything.

I have been a student of human performance for more than 40 years and I’ve had the good fortune to be mentored by giants. People aspiring to a higher station in life can begin by carefully choosing the people they associate with. One cannot soar with the eagles when surrounded by chickens.Mediocrity likes company so the power of association is important.Negative people in your life are often your “Dream Stealers.” They know in their heart they may lose you if you aspire to get more out of life,or they are sometimes just jealous. Regardless of their reason, they try to hold you back, usually with the excuse that they don’t want to see you hurt or disappointed.

Over the years I’ve noticed that the people who are most excited about my success are the people who are more successful than I am. For every mediocre person in your life who is holding you back, there is a successful person waiting to welcome you and cheer you on. People like people who are like themselves.

Breaking out of the muck of mediocrity may be easier than you think. It all boils down to math because everything is numbers. The magical power of numbers will work for you. If you think about it, significant goals and major projects can be broken down into a series of manageable tasks. That’s what project management is all about. The cumulative power of taking small steps every day creates enormous results over a period of time.

Regardless of the goal or project you want to achieve, imagine the results of taking one more action a day than you normally do. In sales(assuming a 5 day work week) the effort would amount to 250 more calls or presentations in a year.At a closing rate of just 20%, how much additional income could you generate with 50 more sales?You can apply the same principle to almost anything. Bill Gates is one of the most successful people in the world. He is a master at maximizing the power of breaking down goals into small steps. Gates puts educational materials on his garage wall, like giant flash cards. In the dead time between getting out of the car and stepping into the house, he has learned a lot of different things.I have personally tested Gate’s idea and it works.

Want to try an interesting experiment? Keep track of how you spend your time for a week. Be sure to record the time you spend on social media, watching a television program you really don’t care about, and the time you spend talking about mundane things with other people that really don’t contribute to your goals. You might be shocked at how much time you spend on activities that pull you backwards instead of propelling you forward. Once you have a record of time spent on unproductive activities, ask yourself honestly if you can make one additional productive attempt each day to improve your life. Most people would be amazed at how much extra time they have for activities that produce high value results.

The key is getting started. Over the years I have developed a generative belief that I can do anything I can get started.The only way to deal with procrastination is to put it off. I have had the privilege of sharing the stage with the late Zig Ziglar, the famous motivation speaker and sales trainer. Zig once said, “A good day is any day you can look in the mirror at the end of the day and say to yourself, today I gave it my best shot”. Ziglar reasoned that your best shot is good enough.It turns out Ziglar was right.

I am proud of the success I have achieved in life, but I’m not even close to achieving all of my goals. I have much more to learn and do, and I believe I’m going to get there because most days I can look in the mirror at night and say, “I gave today my best shot.”