Mediocrity

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 You may be entertained to hear how much we find to say
                     about so little. Among these other mediocrities,
                     Your mediocre servant gets a glimpse of how
                     his slow and meager worship might appear
                     from where You endlessly attend our dreariness.
Holy One, forgive, forgo and, if You will, fend off   
                     from this my heart the sense that I am drowning here   
                     amid the motions, the discussions, the several
                     questions endlessly recast, our paper ballots.

Scott Cairns, Idiot Psalms

Mediocrity reduces us to a mere shadow of ourselves. You can’t demonstrate your potential safe in the middle of the pack of grey.

Take a minute and consider the advice that surrounds us, especially in social channels. 90%+ of it is advice to play safe, to fit in the pack, to do the usual, to be like others and ultimately to fade to greige. It is advice on how to be mediocre.

Why are we surrounded by advice that encourages mediocrity? It is safe. For an effective viral piece of content you want an emotional hook, connection to something that feels evident like a platitude, and a memorable line or story. All safe comfortable and predictable territory on which to run in an age of networked relationships. That is the territory that most advice runs. It is the territory where most people feel safe, comfortable and secure. Nothing wrong with it, if you want mediocrity. This advice is shared but making it more grey it is rarely ever acted on.

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Ever notice that the children’s stories we inherited from folklore aren’t safe. They are scary. People die. Our folklore understands that the path out of the mediocre is something scary. It is the entry to dark woods. You can’t see the path ahead. Everyone tells you not to go ahead because there are monsters in there. You aren’t sure you can make it, not because of the monsters but because you aren’t sure you can beat your own fear and inadequacy. So Little Red Riding Hood, what’s it going to be?

The advice everyone else follows make you grey. That advice isn’t tailored to your skills and potential. That advice doesn’t reflect your circumstances or opportunities. What generally suits everyone is generally safe and generally ok. That is the shadowland of the generally grey. That shadowland is somewhere we pass through once or twice. Don’t try to live there.

Success and differentiation takes risks. Realising your potential means going where you will mostly fail. As the old adage goes, ‘unless you stretch, how do you know where the edge is?’ To get to the bright spots, where you have realised potential and grown to a better version of you, you have to go through the dark. As much as we all want to be recognised for our inner talents, that is not how the world works. We are recognised for our inner talents when they become something that differentiates us in action in the world.

Step out of the grey. Go deep into the dark. Somewhere the other side of that is the brighter lights you desire.

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