Overcoming Mediocrity

In Australia, it is called “Tall Poppy Syndrome” (the tallest poppies get cut). In Scandinavia, it is called Jante Loven (or Jante’s Law). Many countries weave a societal pressure into their cultural fabric, teaching youth to not stand out, to fit in, and to tow the community party line. The goal of such behavior is to promote a sense of “equality”, cultural identity and a feeling that everyone is equal. Baaahhh!

However, what these phenomenon’s spell out to me, is a social goal of mediocrity. Shoot for the middle. If you are in the middle, you might feel you are gaining a sense of security.

Such social pressures are not only present down under and in the far north. It is found in many countries of the world, including America. Any public high school student can tell you about the social pressures they face in school—to not be different, to not stand out. One may argue, “Well, that is in high school—not adult life”. To such thinking, I would point out that our adult personality and beliefs stand on the shoulders of our experience as youth. Then I would point out the popularity of homeowners’ associations.

As individuals, at some point, each of us must ask the question of ourselves, “Will I commit to ‘the system’ and tow the party line  or will I create my own path, follow my own instincts, be the individual I am”?

Will I fit into the herd and be a sheep or will I go a different way and be a wolf?

Mediocrity stifles creative opportunity and prohibits innovation. After all, in order to innovate, we must step outside of “the typical”, outside of our societal and cultural norms.

One of the things I love about the burgeoning discipline of Entrepreneurial Arts Training is that it is a system that pushes people to strive for their personal best, to overcome obstacles, to obtain their dreams, to compete in the market and to innovate, to fill cultural gaps, to serve something more than ourselves, and to promote change as we go.

Certainly, the goal for entrepreneurs is, at times, to overcome the competition (after all, they must vie for the limited audience and resources that may be out there). But what I love is that the discipline demands that the entrepreneur strive for excellence. There is just too much competition out there to do anything less than one’s personal best. Entrepreneurial Arts Training pushes artists to push themselves, to realize vision. Realizing vision demands a commitment to adventure and adventure has a way of pushing people beyond their understood limitations and comfort zones.

Be honest with yourself. Are you operating at your personal best, your highest sense of self? If yes, I applaud you. Many don’t. If you answered, “No”, ask yourself,  “Why Not”? What steps can you take, today, to alter your course, to put yourself into motion towards realizing your highest potential?

Here is a tip on discovering what that is:  Listen to that voice within—not the one that judges (the watcher at the gates of the mind), but the one that instinctively knows right from wrong. That voice will tell you. It knows your potential. Get into a dialog with that voice and listen, listen, listen.

But, here is a tricky thing about that voice… Sometimes it tells us things that we do not want to hear. It sometimes has a way of demanding change—change of action and change of self. That voice can push us very hard and knows if we did our best or if we settled for mediocrity.

Are you willing to listen to that voice and push down the judgmental one, “the watcher”? Are you willing to step outside of a possible herd mentality and risk criticism? Are you willing to be misunderstood at times? Are you willing to accept uncertainty and embrace change? Do you want to operate from your own values, desires and interests?

If you said, “Yes” to most of these questions, you may have the makings of an entrepreneur.

Jim Hart is the founder of The Hart Technique, The International Theatre Academy Norway, and Sleeping Hero Productions, LLC.    www.harttechnique.com and   sleepinghero.com


2 thoughts on “Overcoming Mediocrity

  1. Nice article.. ;D “it is our light not our darkness that frightens us most”. I think that such counterproductive social behavior really deterres many people from succeeding. Success becomes a frightening alienating force. Mediocrity becomes limbo. I doesent even give you comfort, but a desperat longing for something larger. I also think ego has alot to do with it. Alot of people set goal that are far beyond achievement, and in so doing never even try acomplishing them. Instead they should start with the most basic thing at hand – one self. A feel that a deep set of fundementally good principles, courage and smart goalsetting can proppel one into a healthy progress curve.

  2. Someone said – and for some reason I think it was Leo Burnett – something to the effect: “Reach for the stars, even though you don’t succeed you might still end up with a handful of stardust.” Maybe someone know the proper quote?

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