I arose this morning with a simple question in my head: “How long am I going to wait before I demand the best of myself?” It’s a simple question, really, but it is one that begs a full-throated answer if anything meaningful is to be accomplished in life.
After scanning the morning news, which these days more than ever is filled with pandemics, plagues, shortages, collapse, wars and rumors of wars, I couldn’t help but think about the many things that destroy human potential. Times of great calamity such as these are not new to our species and while they are certainly of concern and must be handled with focus and determination, there is a much more powerful enemy in our midst.
This enemy, like the tiny Coronavirus that is wreaking so much havoc worldwide these days, is small, almost imperceptible. This enemy shortens the lives of millions every day. It attacks men and women, young and old, with equal lethality, but the saddest part about it is the greater part of humanity has accepted it as being as inevitable and unavoidable as death itself. In fact, you are considered normal if you suffer from it, and exceptional if it somehow has not infected your body, mind, and heart.
The disease of which I speak is mediocrity.
In the course of human history, mediocrity has shortened the lives of more people than all the other exogenous factors − wars, plagues, genocides, addiction, etc. − combined. Mediocrity acts stealthily, and as with the present COVID-19 pandemic, many people who initially contract it are asymptomatic. Symptoms such as lethargy, malaise, aimlessness, depression, pessimism, grumbling, and futility may take time to develop, but they eventually present themselves and invariably eclipse all joy, cheer, optimism, promise, and enthusiasm in those infected by this silent killer.
The really scary thing about it is that mediocrity, like a black hole, can even consume light. It gnaws away at dreams, hopes, vision, vim and vigor, and eventually leaves its carrier as a dim, listless, whining, moaning member of the walking dead. When these things are lost to the individual, he or she ceases no longer lives, but just survives.
In hopes that I am not just filling your heart and mind with more doom and gloom as the media at large is so apt to do these days, I will end this message with words of hope and in fact a remedy for mediocrity. You see, mediocrity is a choice. No one can cause you to become mediocre. No matter how hard you have it, now matter how constrained your circumstances, now matter how bad it is “out there,” you have absolute, total control over your power of choice.
While it may be painful to come to terms with, there is no valid excuse for mediocrity. We may not have had the most nourishing upbringing, the best parents, the most ideal childhood, the best job, etc., but there is no excuse for not demanding the best of ourselves.
So where do you begin?
The first step is to stop blaming other people and other things for your shortcomings in this regard. Think about it. What or whom have you tended to hold responsible for your mediocrity? Make a list. Share it with someone you trust, then, burn it. Solemnly swear to yourself and to another if you’d like that you will never let yourself off the hook again with one of those excuses, for the choice was, is, and always will be yours to make internally.
You may find when you do this that other excuses will creep in. You see mediocrity is a drug, an addiction, that requires time and effort to overcome. But you can and must do it! It will take time, but the fullness of your greatness is at hand. It is just below the surface, right there on the tip of your tongue, ready for expression and actualization.
Act as if your life depends upon it, because in more ways than one, it does. I, for one, would love to see you thrive, to see the fullness of your light shining through the darkness of this world.
What do you say? How long are you going to wait before you demand the best of yourself?