The Fallacy of Mediocrity

“All around you is an environment that is trying to pull you down to Second Class street.”

David Schwartz in his book “The magic of Thinking Big”

The word ‘Mediocre’ comes to English from the Middle French,which took it from a Latin word meaning “halfway up a mountain”(mediocris). Now being mediocre is considered being even less than average. Average people are constantly in the middle while mediocre people are even less than that. People with middle level of success can also be called mediocre.

Now,if you’re here, you might consider yourself mediocre or average. I’m quite sure,you’ve willy-nilly accepted the fact that you are mediocre. There is a certain security in nodding to facts that are socially accepted. You might have compared your scorecard with the class toppers (students who are good at those subjects) and felt miserable. Your teachers might have agreed to the fact that you are too average to do any good in your studies let alone in your career.

So,after accepting your Mediocrity in school,you choose to go for further studies(!) and enroll in courses where students of your merit go. But even after the enrollment,you didn’t really care about your studies because why should an average student,who is destined to live a mediocre life,ever think about studies,right? So you choose to go with the flow and then you graduate seamlessly. Now, that you’ve seen your friends are excelling in their careers,something strucks you. You go for a mediocre job with average salary and dream about getting out of it through any competitive exams,whichever suits you. But due to your mediocre effort,you fail miserably and stay at that job. Now that you don’t have your parents at your financial support,you fail to lead a lavish lifestyle. Then you have to get married ,which leads to further financial collapse. Due to economic crisis your relationship with your wife and children deteriorates. Finally when you retire your savings aren’t sufficient for your medical checkups. You now understand you are in the vicious cycle from which you really never tried to get out. Therefore,you die with regrets.

Now,does that sound familiar? If any of the stages mentioned seems to be your story, then you’re already stuck in the vicious cycle of mediocrity. Identify which stage you’re in. The good news is no matter which stage you’re stuck in,you can always come out of this cycle and accomplish your goals.

Mediocre Thinking:

“The only thing standing between you and your goal is the bullshit story you keep telling yourself as to why you can’t achieve it.”

Jordan Belfort

“Mediocre thinking is a self-induced hypnosis wherein you rationalize your inability as a consequence of external circumstances”. It is the reason behind procrastination, resistance and self defeat. Mediocrity is an attitude:pure laziness cleverly disguised as contentment with challenges of life. There are two types of mediocre thinkers. The mediocre positive thinkers believe that “everything is going to be okay”. They just need to put their faith on affirmations and universe. While facing adversities,they cajole themselves into believing that sanity has prevailed. They are too indolent to put extra efforts to overcome the situation.

The mediocre negative thinkers somehow observe life with utmost pessimism. They believe life is essentially painful and the difficulties are exceptional in their case. They understand the grave problem and yet choose to remain idle with utmost anxiety. They blame their surroundings and situations for the pain they are going through. Both the mediocre positive thinker and mediocre negative thinker don’t really walk the strenuous road of self improvement.

Identifying Mediocrity:

  1. You attribute present situation to some external factors and remain idle in the comfort zone as if you can’t handle the situation with your efforts.
  2. You rationalize your situation and persuade others to believe why you really can’t get out of your condition and aim for betterment.
  3. You refuse to deal with a situation which requires a lot of effort even at the cost of your personal,economic or social loss. You are an escapist.
  4. You don’t recognize your mediocrity and don’t seek help from successful people or books,which you know might be helpful.

For example : ” I am not smart enough to grasp this chapter,so I’ll just skip it for this examination.” or ” This job is unsuitable but I don’t have enough time to come up with a good CV for applying to a good job.”

From Mediocrity to Success:

Intelligence is subjective and therefore it can’t be measured through academic excellence. Scoring average marks doesn’t measure the ability of a student to create a great future for h(er)imself. But an average student can only make it if s(he) is not consistently average. It means if you recognize your fault for the present situation,you can easily overcome your mediocrity. A novice may produce mediocre work,however what makes h(er)im a master is determined by his own rationalization. If you’re in school and can’t quite grasp the subjects,you can consult teachers,books and take notes – this will ensure that you’re giving your 100% even if you’re not scoring well. Your tendency of being persistent will help you achieving goals when in future you’ll work on what you’re good at. On the other hand if you realise you only need to implement discipline in life to achieve success,you will be one step closer to your goals.

“Your grades,whatever is your GPA,rapidly becomes irrelevant in your life.I can’t begin to impress upon you how irrelevant it becomes. Because in life,they aren’t going to ask you your GPA. If a GPA means anything,it’s what you were in that moment and it,so,doesn’t define you for the rest of your life.”

Neil De Grasse Tyson, Astrophysicist

There is a myth that average students are always successful than the A grade students. But the point is those average students put their efforts on their passion rather than on traditional education system. They didn’t stop learning,rather they educated themselves in a more practical way. You can’t really stereotype being average to be the criteria of being more successful than the toppers or vice versa. Grades help you to secure financial stability and expand opportunities. But at the same time grades neither guarantee your failure. You might create your own opportunities even if you have been an average student. But only if “you have been” average,which means you have now figured your way out of mediocrity. Excellence is to put in your best efforts when you have to,even at your weakest. Successful people are not mediocre or topper but the smart ones. The leaders of all time (i.e.:Elon Musk,Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs,Richard Branson) have worked relentlessly to their goals while the toppers only made sure they could get into a reputable institution. So,don’t fool and console yourself by these leaders’ academic records.

How to Overcome Mediocrity?

When you apply yourself on a task,driven by a relentless pursuit of improvement,mediocrity loses its ground. You become self-driven and achieve your goals one after another. Your character, experiences and other inner forces ultimately determine your direction in life. Success requires passion,perseverance, emotional intelligence and the ability to understand failure.

” All data is not knowledge,

All knowledge is not understanding,

All understanding is not wise.”

1. Be aware of your belief System:

Always remember your daily performance speaks for your deepest beliefs. If you consider yourself mediocre you’ll lead an indisciplined life and if you believe you can achieve something greater,you will definitely become diligent and discipline will be a training and not a punishment.

2. Don’t entertain excuses:

Stop believing in the excuses that you make up to avoid any strenuous routine. Whenever you come up with a “this is why it’s impossible for me” ,give yourself an example of where you had achieved something impossible.

3. Figure your way out:

Whenever you come across any difficulties,try solving it on your own. If it’s a subject in your school,approach every other person possible to clear the concept until its absorbed. Take notes, participate in class and try to understand a subject rather than scoring well in it. If you’re stuck in a office project, research on the topic,talk about it,do everything possible to solve the problem. No matter which field it is,later on you should never feel like “only I had given a little more effort to it”.

4. Don’t follow any ideologies:

Don’t blindly follow the rules. Don’t walk any line before thoroughly evaluating it. Make your own rules if needed. Follow the rules that you are sure about for achieving success. Don’t try to impress others, prove their concepts of success wrong.

5. Don’t Complain:

Don’t consider your problem to be exceptional and try to cleverly shove away other’s achievements in the darkest circumstances. Everyone faces difficulties and the gravity can’t be measured through mere comparison. Therefore,stop complaining and start working. You have to achieve goals,so do it in a hard way. Take ownership of your life.

6. Spend time with smarter people:

If you want to become better, spend time with people who are already on the way to success. Spending time with people who believe in your goals can help you achieve immense success. If you can’t get such people,read books that describe their mindset and work ethic.

Compare yourself with your previous self everyday. If you do the things you’re doing already,you’ll end up with your mediocre life. But if you change your actions, practice relentlessly you will surely shift farther from mediocrity and taste success.


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