Mediocrity is a refusal to move past personal, professional, and emotional stagnation. Becoming “un-mediocre” means taking responsibility for your own development and embarking on the difficult journey towards realizing your full potential. As I start 2017 committed to un-mediocrity, here’s what it means to me.
- It’s becoming increasingly difficult to achieve. In many ways, humans have always been hardwired to resist change. But today’s society has brought an increasing number of addictions and distractions fueling stagnation, as well as advancements in technology and education which have led to markets saturated with talented competition.Rather than being by discouraged by this, I’m committed to treating the increasingly high bar for un-mediocrity as a fun challenge.
- It’s different for each person. I deliberately use the term “un-mediocrity” because I don’t think there’s one catchall term for achieving one’s potential. For example, I’m not interested in becoming a virtuoso, which is often considered the gold-standard of musical achievement.
- It’s not the same as avoiding mistakes. Many people conflate mediocrity with being bad and making mistakes in an effort to justify their own stagnation (which is why so many creatives are heavily criticized by people who’ve never taken the same creative risks). It’s important to get comfortable with making mistakes – as long as you figure out how to fix and learn from them.
- It’s not about identifying mediocrity in others. As mentioned, identifying others’ flaws and demeaning them for it is usually sign of the critic’s mediocrity. While we must stand up to bullying (in which the bully attempts to feel less mediocre by making someone else more mediocre) and avoid getting pulled into others’ vortexes of apathy and misery, we should stay focused on our own development and pursuits.
- It’s got to occur across the board. The main reason I resist the idea of virtuosity is that it advocates reaching your full potential in only one, narrow area. Virtuosos aren’t expected to be healthy, financially-stable, or happy – they’re just expected to be the absolute best at what they do. My goal over the past few years has been to learn how to balance work, learning, hobbies, relationships, responsibilities, health, and financial stability. After spending last year getting control of my health, I’m focusing this year on getting control of my finances. While it’s good to have specific goals, my progress still has to occur in all facets of my life – which is why it’s so hard.
What does becoming un-mediocre mean to you? What first step would it take to start achieving this?