Today is September 30 and the Navigate the Chaos question to consider is “how often do you reflect upon your relationship with mediocrity?” Mediocrity is so common it often goes overlooked. So many people settle for mediocrity. Do you? Have you ever reflected upon where you may have settled for being mediocre in your personal pursuits or professional goals? Do you agree with Anthony Bourdain who proclaimed, “the greatest sin is mediocrity?” As you travel your path in life, have you ever opposed an idea simply because you failed to give it its proper consideration? Violent opposition to great ideas is so common Albert Einstein once noted “Great spirits have always encountered opposition from mediocre minds. The mediocre mind is incapable of understanding the man who refuses to bow blindly to conventional prejudices and chooses instead to express his opinions courageously and honestly.” Navigating the chaos requires one to understand their relationship with being mediocre or ordinary.
In their 2011 book Great by Choice: Uncertainty, Chaos, and Luck--Why Some Thrive Despite Them All, Jim Collins and Morten T. Hansen conclude that “the signature of mediocrity is not an unwillingness to change. The signature of mediocrity is chronic inconsistency. Mediocre companies have no consistency in leadership, in mission, in management style, or in philosophy. They drift with the prevailing tides, unwilling (or unable) to chart a determined course.”
Organizations that rise above mediocrity, according to Collins, adhere to "SMaC" -- Specific, Methodical, and Consistent -- guidelines for their business. A SMaC recipe is a “set of durable operating practices that create a replicable and consistent success formula; it is clear and concrete, enabling the entire enterprise to unify and organize its efforts, giving clear guidance regarding what to do and what not to do.” For example, a few of the durable operating practices used by Southwest Airlines are fly only 737s, no flight segment over two hours, stay out of food service, and stay passenger focused.” Having a SMaC allows an organization to focus on short-term strategies and tactics while remaining grounded in its long-term operating principles.
To delve a bit further into today’s question this post contains the following four quotes and then an assessment on your relationship with mediocrity. Be sure to read and perhaps re-read each quote as you review and ponder each question. As with all Navigate the Chaos posts, the choice to be, or not to be, mediocre is ultimately up to you and you alone. What will you decide?
The Mediocrity Assessment
Step 1: Read each of the following quotes
· “Today is a new day. Don’t let your history interfere with your destiny! Let today be the day you stop being a victim of your circumstances and start taking action towards the life you want. You have the power and the time to shape your life. Break free from the poisonous victim mentality and embrace the truth of your greatness. You were not meant for a mundane or mediocre life!” Author Steve Maraboli
· “I don’t believe in doing everything and being mediocre at all of them. I believe in being good at one thing.” Actor Sofia Boutella
· “Mediocrity is my biggest fear. I'm not afraid of total failure because I don't think that will happen. I'm not afraid of success because that beats the hell out of failure. It's being in the middle that scares me.” Actor Robert Downey, Jr.
· "Promise me you'll always remember that you are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem and smarter than you think". Christopher Robin to Winnie the Pooh
Step 2: Answer each of the following questions
How often do you reflect upon your relationship with mediocrity?
When you wake up, how often do you say to yourself ‘this is a new day?’
How often do you let your history interfere with your destiny?
Do you find yourself being the victim of your circumstances?
How often are you taking action towards the life you want?
Do you remind yourself you have the power to shape your life?
Have you embraced the truth of your greatness?
How often do you remind yourself you were not meant for a mediocre life?
Are you trying to be great at everything or, can you allow yourself to work towards being great in one area of your life while other aspects are mediocre?
Are you afraid of being successful, failing, or being mediocre?
How often do you remind yourself that you are braver that you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think?