Mediocrity Kills Success
There are many people who will tell you they know how to succeed. They will sell you books, make you watch videos, compel you to attend conferences, and dangle their own success in front of you as bait. That’s all bullsh*t.
There are many people who will tell you they know how to succeed. They will sell you books, make you watch videos, compel you to attend conferences, and dangle their own success in front of you as bait. That’s all bullsh*t. The real challenge is defeating your own inherent and very human tendency to be ok with mediocrity.
Overcoming this challenge takes time. If you have a team, your entire team has to be constantly reminded how important this is. Mistakes, oversights, errors — they are killers. They erode trust. They signal to the receiver that you are not going to exceed expectations, but rather, underwhelm.
Nobody makes it to the highest pinnacles of achievement just giving a half-sh*t.
Underwhelming doesn’t go as far. A 3/4 effort doesn’t get you to a full result; it’s simple math. You can certainly operate at 75 percent, and I think many people do, because going full tilt, all the time, remaining focused, and applying continuous pressure takes a hell of a lot of work. If you want your idea, your dream, your “whatever it is” to succeed — you have to be willing to treat it as obsessively as you know, in your gut, it deserves to be treated.
If you happened to watch Chloe Kim win gold in the Olympics snowboarding competition, you had to have been thinking about all the hard work that she must have put in to achieve that level of perfection and success. We saw a few minutes of what has surely been thousands of hours of practice.
Imagine the pressure she felt as she stared down the mountain. Imagine the fear. The desire to go big (as big as she went) must always be accompanied by an awareness of its inverse: complete failure if she doesn't accomplish that perfect run. Not to mention the physical ramifications of an error.
This does NOT mean you need to work 24/7, develop an obsessive compulsive disorder, or otherwise severely disrupt your life. It means you need to care, and keep caring, and never be all right with something you know isn’t amazing.
The hardest part about striving for amazingness is that you will inevitably suffer much more failure and pain than someone who isn’t trying as hard, or caring as much.
When you aren’t fully committed to something, it doesn’t matter as much when it flops, or fizzles, or you lose. Those people shrug their shoulders and say, “Oh well.” You, on the other hand, if you’re doing it right, you will be very, very upset. Your failures will need to result in some kind of improvement the next time around — or you won’t be able to stand it.
If you run a company like me, you’ll make sure every single person who represents your company feels the same way about it as you do. I have to believe that people who want to work here expect that level of care and effort for the work we produce, and if they don’t, they shouldn’t be here.
You can’t coach or teach someone how to overcome a “mediocrity tolerance.”
Sometimes this is because everyone’s bars may indeed be set to different heights, but you need to surround yourself with others who are at the same height as yours—never lower.
So don’t keep silent when your gut tells you it’s not perfect. Challenge every person in your organization to push themselves and each other. Never tolerate mediocrity unless you know that you’re someone who truly is OK with it. Don’t let excuses rule the day.
Resist entertaining mediocrity and force the effort to go towards amazing outcomes. If it seems scary, give it a second consideration. If you only aspire for medium, you’ll never go higher, and you’ll definitely never reach the top. This means hard work and lots of it, but just look at where it can take you.