Why it's Okay To Be Totally Mediocre
From an early age the adults in our lives are striving to find that certain something that we can excel at. Parents and grandparents can always be heard boasting about their little angels prowess at some talent or other. Rarely do you hear a parent say “my child’s not brilliant at anything but they are happy and have loads of friends”
Rather than spending time looking for that elusive ‘high achieving’ gene that is just waiting to be found, wouldn’t most of us be much happier doing the things that we enjoy - and it’s a self fulfilling prophecy that if we enjoy something we will get better at it - maybe not world class but definitely better. Most of us given the opportunity and aptitude can be quite good at quite a lot of things - having a variety of skills and interests leads to a well-balanced individual and hopefully a well-balanced life. Somewhere along the line though we seem to have forgotten that being ‘ok is ok’ and we are piling the pressure on ourselves to be ‘great’. Why?
It’s becoming an accepted part of our culture today to believe that we are all destined to do something truly extraordinary.
“We all deserve greatness” encourages Oprah. She may have a point - certainly everyone deserves to follow their dreams but do these dreams need to be world beating?
In this fast paced ‘tech’ world where we are bombarded with more information than we can ever process, the news that catches our attention is the extreme. All day every day we are flooded with the truly exceptional - the best of the best, the worst of the worst - and we are beginning to see the exceptional as the ‘norm’. We are starting to believe that to prove we are special, worthy, we need to be a the worlds best at something.
The human race comes in all shapes and sizes with thousands of different skills and abilities and we all know that life is a trade off. That we only have a limited amount of attention and time. If we want to be a high achiever in any given field we need to be prepared to sacrifice ‘success’ in other areas of our lives. To be exceptional takes a cocktail of natural born talent, dedication, obsession with improvement, single-mindedness, opportunity, patience and most importantly of all - time. To be truly great at something means you have to be prepared to dedicate hours and hours of your life to this goal often to the exclusion of building other important pillars in your life - friends, interests, understanding, empathy, variety. High achievers are driven to perform, to improve. It is one of life’s conundrums that ‘world beaters’ are never satisfied with their performance, always feel they have more to learn, more to give - very few are driven by money. Financial success is a by-product of their achievements. If money is the main driver when they hit their financial goals why don’t they stop to enjoy the fruits of their labours? Very few do.
In this ‘celebrity culture’ where the media would have us believe success is there for the taking - you just need to be ‘spotted’ in the right place at the right time looking ‘instagram’ ready and the worlds your oyster - we need to reassess, shift the social media lens and get a different camera angle. Deep down we all know what it really takes to achieve ‘excellence” and how many of us are prepared to make that sacrifice?
Olivia Coleman in her recent Oscar acceptance speech talks about starting as a cleaner and look at her now. Her star status didn’t just happen - she took the cleaning job to follow her acting dream, she was prepared to do any job to get by between acting roles but she didn’t give up - she honed her craft, went for every acting role she could, picked herself up from thousands of rejections and when she got her breaks put in the best performances of her life and voila 22 years later she has an Oscar in her hand!!
I take my hat off to all these truly driven people - they deserve all the accolades they receive but for most of us is this what we really want? High achievers may be great in their chosen field but are often disasters elsewhere.
We all need ‘experts’ but who wants to sit next to one at a dinner party?
Being content with being a ’jack of all trades but master of none’ is a wonderfully freeing experience. It doesn’t mean that you can’t follow your dream or stop striving to improve in whatever you turn your hand to but it does mean that instead of beating yourself up that you are not ‘exceptional’ you can enjoy what you do rather than judging your performance against others.
We may not be the next Olympic champion or Bill Gates but we do have something these ‘high achievers’ lack - time. Time for our family, our friends, our work colleagues, ourselves, time to follow our dreams, pursue new projects, travel, time to contribute to our community and time to just ‘be’ - a pretty ‘amazing’ aspirational achievement for us all.
Love, Louise x