Why do we settle for Mediocrity?
Excellence over Mediocrity is one of our core values.
I know what you’re thinking- Duh! Shouldn’t it be obvious? Who wouldn’t want to do their best work every day? Otherwise, why would we choose to dress up in the morning and brave a long commute to come to work to only do mediocre work?
Unfortunately, mediocrity exists. It not only exists but thrives all around us. We even do mediocre work at our workplaces, which are built to put the proverbial dent in the universe.
I understand that every day isn’t created equal. There are days we have to carry the emotional burdens of our lives outside of work. And we end up carrying fragments of those lives to our workplace because, sometimes, they are too precious to be left at the doorstep of our workplace. I totally get it and its ramification on the quality of our work.
But I’m talking about the other perceived normal days when the skies are blue, birds are chirping their favorite song, our in-laws love us and there is a feeling to do shit that matters.
And you know what, sadly even in those days mediocrity happens. And it happens so much that it sometimes ends up blinding us to see what great work looks like. And, if left unchecked, it builds like a termite infestation that eats our passion and makes us hollow from inside.
So why does it happen? Why do people willingly choose the dark cloak of mediocrity when they can shine like the stars? What propels people to continue laboring under its weight, without wanting to break free?
In my quest to find these answers, I have found the following causes of mediocrity that are universally applicable-
Sense of Futility
The person feels that whatever they create doesn’t matter and would go unnoticed. It may be because they have never heard a word of appreciation from their peers or leaders. Thus what difference does it make if it’s a work of art or worthless mediocre crap, right?
This kind of thought process is generally either self-inflicted misery or cultural conditioning passed on as a virus by people around us.
Too Much Effort
Who on the earth has the time to put in those long days and years to create a masterpiece when something mediocre or ‘just good enough’ could be passed as work? The person feels that they have made it till here and no one has objected so far! If anyone needs a better version of it, there would be enough people around to take that work forward and make it ‘perfect’.
One doesn’t know what great work looks like
Someone hasn’t experienced the craft of the highest caliber and doesn’t even know what it looks like. It’s the case when we don’t know what we don’t know – Unknown Unknowns.
The person is just happy with whatever comes their way because no one has ever questioned their methods and they’re too happy with their bare minimum standards.
Not connected with the cause
“Why do we need to put in so many efforts?” “What good will it do to others?” “Why can’t someone else do this?” One generally wonders about such things when they aren’t aligned with the purpose of the work – the “why” of it, like Simon Sinek would say. Bottom line, the person isn’t emotionally vested in a job to do an excellent job.
You know the best part in all the above scenarios is that we have an option. The option is to have an ego.
Yes, Ego! No, not like an egotistical maniac but –
Ego from a perspective that I don’t care if I’m appreciated but my work got to be great because my name is written on it.
Ego from a standpoint that I’ll push my limits and go an extra mile to make my work look like a piece of art.
Ego to commit that even if I have to plunge into my unknown unknowns to discover new things, I’ll do so without batting an eyelid.
Ego to make efforts to find meaning in the work that I do.
That’s the kind of attitude to build anything remarkable and that’s the only way to leave a legacy.