I was like, ‘If I don’t change my mind,
if I don’t change my heart,
if I don’t develop some skill,
I’m always going to be sleeping in my car.’
— Tony Robbins
Mediocre is: “of only ordinary or moderate quality; neither good nor bad; barely adequate; not satisfactory; poor; inferior.”
Many have chosen a life of mediocrity. They have settled and lowered their standards, to accept what is barely adequate. Most don’t know why or how, and they don’t always know ahead of time that they are about to do it. They probably don’t realize that they do it, or that they have a history of doing it. You may even be thinking that I don’t know what I’m talking about. Take a deep breath, open your heart and mind for a few minutes, and hear me out.
When you began this life of yours, you didn’t intend to have any relationship, job, health, body, creativity, adventures, or life experiences that were less than fulfilling, or just ordinary. Yet here you are, less than fulfilled with life, perhaps slightly jaded, tired or sick, in pain, or maybe worse.
Have you consciously, or unconsciously, chosen that which appears safe, low- or risk-free, or that which pleases others, over what is right, uplifting, exciting, and pleasing to you? How often have you taken the safe road, or the leftover choice, or the smaller pile, or the lesser value, even though you didn’t like it or want it? Why?
Less than ten percent of college graduates work in the field of their degree. Most spend most of their adult years working at a job they can’t stand, for people they don’t respect, with people who bring them down, in an environment that makes them depressed, stressed, in pain, or sick. Why do you think that is?
Less than ten percent of Americans own and operate a small business. Are you one of the ten percent? Or, are you one of the ninety percent? Why is that? Do you think the ten percent are smarter than you, more capable than you, more creative than you, more skilled or gifted than you, better than you, more deserving than you? If you think yes to any of these, you’re under the influence of a false belief. If you think that those ten percent want their work life to be better than ordinary and are willing to take risks, if necessary, to have that, you are absolutely right. If you think they are not afraid, you are mistaken. They just don’t let fear get in the way of their focus and vision. They do not settle for mediocrity.
Yes, they are risk takers, but so are the ninety percent who haven’t taken the risk and followed their passion to create their own businesses. Think about it. What risks do we take when we don’t step out and try something new, scary, or difficult? What risks do we take when we don’t reach for something that we want, create something that excites us, try something that enlivens us, go for something that inspires us, or learn something that challenges us? What happens when we settle?
This is what happens: we disappoint ourselves; we lose faith in our abilities; we lose happiness; we affect others around us; we weaken ourselves; we co-depend on others; we stay in discomfort, depression, or suffering; we shrink ourselves; we settle for less; we get sick; we lose our energy; we give up on ourselves; we let others down; we lose our selves; we fall into mediocrity, or worse. A much heavier load awaits those who don’t risk taking a chance on themselves.
Why do we settle for a mediocre life, relationship, job, health, experiences? Why do we measure ourselves by the standards and opinions of others? Why do we suppress our desires and shrink our dreams? Why do we care more about the opinions, words, ideas, needs, and desires of others than we do our own? Why are we afraid? What is the ultimate reason we are living a mediocre life?
We do that because we believe we are not good enough. We do that because we don’t want to have more or better than others who have not. Why? Because others convince us that we should settle. Because we were taught that we’re nobody special, and we can’t have what we want, and no one’s life is perfect anyway, and we will have to settle, because life is hard, and that only the strong, lucky, smart, active, educated, supported people can start that business, audition for that role, try out for that competition, paint that masterpieces, have that relationship, look that way, live that way.
From birth, those in our familial, communal, religious, educational, societal, political, and/or cultural environments have—mostly unintentionally—conditioned us to:
- forget who we are, forget what we’re capable of, and why we’re here
- believe that we’re here to please and serve everyone over ourselves
- care about and follow what others do, say, and think, over what we want, think, and know
- believe that we are not capable or deserving of creating the life we desire if others don’t
- believe that we need to be approved of and included in some existing group, rather than freely following our independent compasses
- forget that we are born free.
Of all of life’s creatures, we are the only species that gets up or keeps going when we’re tired, force ourselves to sleep when we’re not tired, to go to a job that we don’t want, and live a life of self-inflicted suffering. We do that rather than take the risks in the areas that give us the most vitality, joy, and self-empowerment. And, inside, we feel the guilt and the burden of giving up on ourselves, so we push ourselves in other ways, convincing ourselves that we must, all the while, settling deeper into mediocrity.
Pause to Write.
Write your thoughts on the following. If a response doesn’t come easily, pass it and go to the next. Come back later if you have a new awareness on any that you skipped.
If you didn’t have to go to the job you have now, would you?
Are you doing what you’ve had to do? Or, are you doing what you Love to do?
If you had a choice (and you do), would you do things differently?
If you stopped looking backward, and if you stopped regret, what would you change?
What’s holding you back?
Are you afraid of what others might think?
Whose life are you living? If not yours, why?
Are you still wishing, reaching, hoping?
If not, what stopped you?
When did you first learn to settle for mediocre?
Where have you cared more about the opinions, words, and ideas of others than your own?
Where have you given yourself away, suppressed your vitality, or shrunk yourself?
Who did you learn that from?
When did you stop being excited and riding the momentum of your ideas, desires, wishes, and dreams?
What desires have you suppressed?
What dreams have you downsized or buried?
A dream is something you eat, sleep, live, and breathe. You think about it and refine it so that you can’t see any separation between you and the dream. You are intertwined. Nothing will stop you from getting it. It’s that important to you. When I ask people if they have a dream, almost all of them say yes. So why don’t they act on it? Why don’t they start that business venture? Why don’t they go back to school? Change careers? Sell their house? Move to that country? Build that widget? Travel the world? Buy a sailboat? Learn to play music?
You can tell the size of a person’s dream by how much it takes to put it aside. Think about that. You have a wish to lose those fifteen pounds. You know you should. You really, really want to. Yet, you put it aside for the immediate gratification of the ice cream, beer, pasta, piece of chocolate, or cheeseburger. Why?
Because it is just a wish in your mind. Because you somehow learned that dreams don’t come true. You’ve tried before and didn’t make it. You don’t want to be disappointed. You don’t believe in yourself. Or, you want to believe in yourself, but you might make someone else feel bad who isn’t pursuing their dream. Or, someone has told you that your dream is too big. So, you put it aside. You don’t allow yourself to imagine anymore, or as big as before. You stop visioning, in vivid color, what you will look like, feel like, be like, or be able to experience by reaching for and realizing your dream. You forget the feel of the power of the dreaming. You no longer allow your passion to electrify you.
Pause to write.
You may not remember but allow yourself to think back. Before the world told you that you couldn’t do it, you had a dream. You felt good. You were excited. You were energized. You couldn’t wait to start another day. You wanted to do something. You wanted to expand and explore. You wanted to create something. You wanted to go somewhere. Can you remember what you wanted?
Knowing that you can make a different choice, what do you want to do differently?
Where do you want to live?
What do you want to do?
What kind of work do you really want to do?
What do you dream of?
Whose destiny are you creating?
When will it be time to start consciously creating your own destiny? Your own happiness?
I attended a seminar lead by one of the top Transformational Life Coaches in the United States, Lisa Nichols. In sharing her inspiring story, she impressed upon us the importance of:
- Not living an average life
- Realizing that life is not promised
- Knowing that we cannot wait for the right time
- Being uncomfortable with mediocrity
She asked us, “What if extraordinary was your birthright? How would you act?
So, I ask you, what if everyone has been wrong? What if all the teachers and officials and parents and religious leaders taught us the wrong information? What if they didn’t know, because they were just following the same recipe that had been handed down for generations, afraid to challenge it or change it, or attempt a bigger recipe? What if we really are extraordinary? What if having an extraordinary life is our birthright?
Let me tell you once more: You were not born just so-so. You were never barely adequate. You were not born so that you could live a mediocre life. You were born special and capable. You are powerful and valuable. You are born worthy of living a brilliant and beautiful life. You are one of the four great powers. You are GREAT!
To shift from believing that you must settle for mediocrity, to knowing that you are extraordinary, you must know that you are your own rescue. You are your own remedy. Not your government, not your justice system, not your educational institution, not your parents, not your children, not your friends, not your partner, not your job, not your possessions.
YOU. ONLY YOU.
[Source] is the mother of the Universe. For lack of a better name, I call it the Tao.
The Tao is great. The Universe is great. Earth is great. Man is great.
These are the four great powers.
— Tao de Chang