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Resist Mediocrity

November 7, 2008

I have talked before about the search for excellence.  I talked about not letting your perception of a task determine how hard you are going to attack it.  Or don’t allow yourself to become mediocre if you feel it will still accomplish the task.

Seth Godin wrote a post today called, The sad lie of mediocrity.  I thought he nailed it with his analysis of mediocrity and its effects.  He says,

Doing 4% less does not get you 4% less.

Doing 4% less may very well get you 95% less.

That’s because almost good enough gets you nowhere. No sales, no votes, no customers. The sad lie of mediocrity is the mistaken belief that partial effort yields partial results. In fact, the results are usually totally out of proportion to the incremental effort.

Big organizations have the most trouble with this, because they don’t notice the correlation. It’s hidden by their momentum and layers of bureaucracy. So a mediocre phone rep or a mediocre chef may not appear to be doing as much damage as they actually are.

The flip side of this is that when you are at the top, the best in the world, the industry leader, a tiny increase in effort and quality can translate into huge gains. For a while, anyway.

Mediocre effort will not yield mediocre results.  Resist mediocrity in your search for excellence!

You can view Seth Godin’s original post here.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. November 7, 2008 11:30 am

    I understand the reasons behind this mentality, and I think it is a pretty good concept, however my initial reaction to this is to resist it.

    I have spent a great deal of time having to renew my mind to the truth that life is not about performance, meaning I do not draw my worth from what or how I do, but rather who I am.

    In my opinion its kind of dangerous to have a life standard that is performance based. Its good to have standards, and to have them be high is okay as well, (pun intended!) There is a thin line between not accepting mediocrity and becoming overly judgmental on yourself and others, or inflicting self condemnation due to a lack of superb performance.
    That of coarse is just my opinion based on my life’s experience.

    Good post Mike!

  2. November 8, 2008 8:19 am

    Good post. Mike M., you are right, life and self worth are not about performance but like it or not your job is and should be. The idea of not being mediore can also be applied to our relationships with our spouse, kids, and Christ.

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