The truth is, I spend way too much time worried about being mediocre. For whatever reason, I don't want to live an ordinary life. I don't want to look back and say I could have done more, or been more.
I also realize that as I write this, there are those that will jump to discredit the notion of mediocrity. That will say it is nothing more than a superficial judgment. That mediocrity is an artificial measuring stick created by "the man" to keep us in check.
Not so fast.
Within each one of us lies untapped potential. There is not a single person that can't get better at something. In fact, the bar raises each time you get better. That's a good thing.
To be mediocre is to not live up to your inner potential (and that varies from individual to individual). To not fight hard enough, or to give up too soon; to do just enough to get by.
With that in mind, here are 7 things you can do today to live up to your potential.
1. Be Focused
Just like in goal setting, too much is too much. It's better to focus on one area in your life to be excellent at.
You cannot be a jack of all trades and achieve excellence in every area of your life. And let's face it: Some of the areas it's OK to put in minimal effort. Save your energies for the areas that you care about and that matter.
2. Be Curious and Unrealistic
Dream big. Ask big questions. Challenge yourself in a massive way.
People arrive at mediocrity by doing the very least to get by. By asking what they can get away with, instead of what could be different. When you do that, you lower the bar of your potential.
3. Be Deliberate
Anders Ericsson, who inspired Malcom Gladwell in his book Outliers, debunked the myth that genius is something you were born with. Rather, genius is something that you achieve with deliberate practice.
Pick a discipline. Figure out a key weakness in that discipline, then work on that weakness and that alone. When you've mastered that, move to the next, and then the next, and then the next.
4. Be Consistent
Be consistent! Like the dieter soon learns, you can't starve yourself during the week and binge on the weekend if you ever want to make serious progress.
Mediocrity is full of individuals who make commitments, but don't follow through.
5. Be Accountable (No Excuses)
Eliminating mediocrity means getting rid of excuses and scapegoats. It means holding yourself accountable when things go wrong.
Too often we excuse our own behavior when we could have done more. Be your own best judge and jury. Look deep to see if you are making an excuse to feel better. Don't let yourself off the hook when you are.
6. Be Forgiving
When you fail -- and you will fail -- acknowledge it and move on.
Excusing failure makes you mediocre. Acknowledging failure helps you learn. Forgiving failure helps you grow.
7. Be Ruthless
Overnight success rarely happens. That doesn't mean it never happens, but don't plan on becoming excellent overnight. It will take days, weeks, months -- even years of ruthless effort.
But take comfort with the knowledge that striving for excellence makes you anything but mediocre.