Today, I went to a local coffee shop to meet a friend. As I sat and waited for him to arrive, I began to check out the employees and their interactions with the customers. A female employee caught my eye. Her body language made a statement and it screamed, I don’t want to be here. It was obvious she was bored and not happy that she had to be at work. Her interaction with customers was ok at best. I watched as she walked back to pour a cup of coffee. The cup tipped over and coffee went everywhere. She made a few negative comments in front of a customer. The customer was not very happy with her behavior and made the statement, “Seems like you really don’t want to be here.” The employee responded, “I really don’t and I would rather be somewhere else.” The customer took her coffee and replied, “Thanks for the mediocre service.”
I said to myself, mediocre? Wow! She was right, it was mediocre service. Why are we satisfied with mediocrity? Why are we ok with being barely enough? I had to ask myself, what was really going on with this young lady? Why was she so discontent with her job? Where’s the gratitude that she had a job and is able to make a living for herself. I know a few folks who would love to have that job.
Why are we ok in America with mediocrity? Everywhere I look, people want to only do what is easy. When I think of mediocrity, I think about little league softball. Don’t get me wrong, I support our little ones being recognized for a job well done, however, we recognize everyone for doing an OK job. Everyone gets a trophy; even when they don’t deserve one. I am told the reason for this is to build self-esteem. My issue is that when we start with our kids at a young age this gives them the impression that it is ok to be so-so. Then as they grow up, they do just enough to get by and have an expectation that they are going to get a trophy every time. We are setting up false expectations and setting them up for failure. Mediocrity in our culture is celebrated, while great accomplishments are sometimes ignored or down-played because we don’t want to “show” someone up, or toot our own horn. This is often perceived as arrogance.
It was Andrew Carnegie who said, “People who are unable to motivate themselves must be content with mediocrity, no matter how impressive their other talents.”
Personal excellence is a better teacher. I call it personal excellence because it varies for all of us. I am not expecting anyone to be a Michael Jordon, but I do expect people to do their very best. Ordinary is everywhere. I challenge you to step outside of the pack and rise up beyond what is expected. Rise up beyond the norm and excel. You co-create your world. What does that look like? Are you ok with mediocrity, as in, just doing enough? I challenge you to go the extra mile and expand your capacity of achievement. You may be surprised with the results. Once you experience excellence your taste for mediocrity fades and can no longer exist in your world. You will never tolerate it again.