Recently, I’ve been having a series of thoughts on the subject of mediocrity and what being mediocre really means. In recent weeks I’ve had conversations that in various forms have raised the topic of mediocrity. As a nation, I also feel we have become a mediocre society where we never seem to strive for excellence in anything that we do. It got me thinking deeply — What does mediocrity really mean? What does it mean to be mediocre? Are you mediocre?
Let’s face it. All of us believe that we are better than others. At least in some ways. “I’m definitely a better driver than most of the others. I’m a much better manager. I’m a really good parent. I’m a great listener and always annoyed when I need to constantly talk so others see it.”
Considering how quickly the world around us changes the best way to see whether you are mediocre or not is to look at how you respond to the changes. Do you embrace change and constantly learn to keep up with the world? Or do you just sit back and wait to see what will happen to you? If the latter applies, you are most likely mediocre.
Mediocre people sort of give up on improving and even on giving their best. They just plow through the day doing what needs to be done but without much interest and with no intention of going above and beyond. Doing just the bare minimum and not giving your best is a strong indicator, but what really seals the deal of your mediocrity is when you don’t give your best and you don’t mind. It just doesn’t bother you.
If you find yourself in any of the categories below, you need to find out why you have chosen this path for your life. Remember mediocrity never got anyone anywhere. You want to do great exploits but what are you doing today to ensure that you are not ordinary, you are different, you are a man or woman of faith?
Doing the Minimum
Are you one of those people who just want to do the least that they can to get by? This may be in school, at the workplace, and even in your spiritual life.
There was a rich young ruler who with every question, was looking to establish the minimum requirement that would lead to eternal life. He asked Jesus, “Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may obtain eternal life?” When Jesus told him to “keep the commandments,” he immediately asked, “Which ones?” When Jesus listed a few of them, he said, “All these things I have kept; what am I still lacking?” Finally, Jesus said, “If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” This caused him to turn away.
He was focused on doing the minimum and thus his interest remained. However, when he learned that there was no “minimum” – that he had to be willing to give up what he loved and give his life over to Jesus completely, he left. Are you willing to do what it takes and pay the price to achieve your dreams? Then stop looking to do the bare minimum.
Looking for Loopholes
Do you find yourself looking for excuses to justify certain sins, immoral acts, omissions, not taking action that may cause conflict, etc? Do you look for “loopholes” that will allow you to do what you want to do? For instance, the world today has normalized fornication and states that if a couple is in love, it is fine for them to commit fornication. Is this the truth though?
This was the attitude of the lawyer who tested Jesus. His question was similar to the one asked by the rich young ruler “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” He was told that he needed to love his neighbor as himself. This man had apparently not been doing this because he tried “to justify himself” by asking, “And who is my neighbor?” I mean, you and I know that your neighbor is the person next to you or in close proximity to you. The lawyer was trying to find a loophole that would allow him to not show love to everyone he came across.
Instead of using “love” as a justification for fornication, we should honor marriage. “Marriage is to be held in honor among all, and the marriage bed is to be undefiled; for fornicators and adulterers God will judge”
Have you become content and confident in your current condition and fail to grow? We are all expected to grow. We cannot remain in the same condition over time and expect to achieve anything. If you struggle with a certain temptation, you need to make certain changes in your life to eliminate the said temptation.
Seeking Questions, Not Answers
Have you become comfortable or think that maturity is measured by questions, rather than answers? Many believe that imagining questions for which there is no answer is an indicator of maturity. As we grow in understanding, we should be ready to “give an answer” , rather than propose an unending number of questions that cannot be answered with certainty. It is good for us to dig deeper and deeper into the truth as we grow, but we must also “refuse foolish and ignorant speculations, knowing that they produce quarrels”.
The last way in which we must not be mediocre is in timidity. Timidity is having a lack of courage or confidence. It might sound odd, but timidity is a form of pride. When you’re timid, you’re afraid of what people will think of you if you fail. You think that if you fail, people will think of you differently or your reputation will be damaged. Failure doesn’t mean, “It’s over.” It means, “Try again; do better.” When we’re timid and become afraid of what others will think if you fail or just purely afraid of failure itself, you are putting yourself in a snare—it’s a trap! Unless you trust in God, there’s no way out. Make your plans and act on them; God will bring you through it. It may not be exactly as you envision it, but He will get you through it.
From a very young age, all I’ve known is hard work and I’ve seen its value over the years. All I’ve been doing since leaving employment is working hard toward my calling, my deployment. Perhaps it’s because of my up-bringing and my training as a lawyer where there was zero tolerance for incompetence. Things seem to have changed these days. To me, if you’re incompetent and mediocre, why bother to do it at all? That might seem harsh to some of you, but mediocrity doesn’t get you anywhere and when you’re mediocre, you just get in other peoples’ way. This generation seems to settle for mediocre work, mediocre education, mediocre relationships (friendship, family, and romance, marriage), and even mediocre faith.
Martin Luther said: The maid who sweeps her kitchen is doing the will of God just as much as the monk who prays—not because she may sing a Christian hymn as she sweeps but because God loves clean floors. The Christian shoemaker does his Christian duty not by putting little crosses on the shoes, but by making good shoes because God is interested in good craftsmanship. These [vocations] are the masks of our Lord God, behind which He wants to be hidden and to do all things.
Whatever you do, you ought to do it from the soul—as if it is an integral part of your life and soul as a human being. You are therefore not called to mediocrity, but to greatness—to be the greatest at everything you do to the best of your ability. Again, I emphasize that I do not mean that you are expected you to be an absolute expert in all that you do, but God does want you to be your best because it will only aid in your growth as a human being, and doing your best brings glory to God and it assures you of success and joy.
After reading this article, have you realized that perhaps you may be living in mediocrity? Would you like to change this and start living your very best life as a leader? Reach out to us here and we would be more than happy to guide you on the steps you can take towards achieving excellence.
Also, if you want to learn more about leadership, you can see my work on: http://www.njerimuchunu.com
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Njeri is an authentic, courageous and trustworthy Leadership Curator i.e. Coach, Teacher & Speaker. She takes Leaders on a coaching journey of rediscovering themselves and as a result they get clarity on their Purpose and are Transformed from Leaders into Agents of Change.