My main approach to life at the time was to take it easy and make it easy. I was passionate about nothing except sports maybe. When my dad explained to me that mediocrity was the pursuit of average, I felt like he had just described me. He never accused me of being mediocre. It was my conscience getting to me. I knew I would need to overcome that trend, but I didn’t know how at the time. In the years since then that battle has really shaped my life, even to this day. For years I battled the temptation to be complacent. I was always satisfied with being good enough and I hated competition. I was also blessed with some talent and insight. So I still did well, in fact I would get feedback from colleagues, teachers, professors and supervisors and clients that I was really good at what I do. I don't say this to brag, because now that I am committed to growing and doing my best, I realize how much more I can grow and need to learn in seemingly endless ways. I expect miracles to happen,
When you really think about it, mediocrity isn’t just about being okay with whatever, it’s more about deciding not to grow. It’s a passive decision to let other people and things determine your fate, your mood, your opportunities and loves. You become a victim. Some people exchange these for a sense of security. This really happens. If you have ever taken government assistance, you know when they give you a WIC check for instance that you have to buy what they tell you. Imagine being totally comfortable with that. I don’t denigrate people who use government assistance. I just can’t relate to the person who is totally comfortable with being told what food to buy
Here’s what I am focusing on with this blog entry, the effort to grow and expand ourselves. In my observations of people who overcome significant challenges in their life, I have noticed an effort to grow. What I mean is they read, they work on changing their habits, and in some cases actually change their habits. They follow through on commitments. They watch TV less. They look at bucket list type of things and move on them.
This is different than being impulsive. Impulsivity is reckless and leads to depression and a sense of entitlement and sometimes addiction. Some of the most financially successful people do whatever they can to minimize risk. So jumping off a cliff just to see what it’s like is not necessarily an effort to grow, nor is smoking marijuana. I know plenty of people who think they are trying things like that because they want to grow, but that’s dumb. I like to cliff dive. It’s a blast, but when I go I have made sure where I am jumping is safe. Based on thousands of role models out there, I know smoking weed would be a dumb thing for me to do. Someday maybe I’ll tell the story of when I got high from second-hand smoke of the hippie lettuce at an Oakland A’s baseball game in 1988. Now when I smell that smoke I want to punch someone in the face.
So when I observe people growing they are expanding their experience for the purpose of making themselves and others better. It really can be as simple as joining Crossfit, or finally reading that book that so many people have recommended.
Sometimes I feel like saying, “Okay, go down that road, but you’re on your own.” Sometimes that is the frustrating thing about being a therapist. I imagine myself in a sort of guide position and the client has sought my help and asked me whether they turn right or left but they just keep driving down the road regardless of what I have suggested. Can any parents relate to what I am saying? So then what? They don’t follow our wonderful advice and they have hard experiences. The ones that grow are the ones that learn from the experience and get better. They turn toward the future and realize they can do better and make choices indicating they know they can grow. This isn’t about being perfect. Being perfect, or thinking you should have done something just right like your friend on Pinterest, is forgetting about that growing and learning part.
I read recently from the book, “The Biology of Belief” by Bruce H. Lipton how when molecular cells are protecting themselves they cannot grow. Protection and playing it safe is okay for a limited time, but if you’re not growing, you are not living.
It’s time to grow! It’s fun, it’s scary sometimes, but keep going and growing. Try that new recipe! Train your dog! Work out that budget! Take that guitar class! Climb that mountain! If you don’t know where to start, learn from what others have done. No need to reinvent the wheel. No need to be impulsive. Learn from others and commit. Stop sitting at the fork in the road. Learn from others mistakes and success and move. Keep growing!
Here is one thing you can do to overcome a measure of your own mediocrity and grow.
- Write down every should you can identify.
- Pick one that you really want to do and is feasible.
- Write it as a want instead of a should.
- Make it happen.
- I should run three times a week
- I should buy healthy snacks
- I should go to bed earlier
- I should go on a hike this weekend
- I should learn a new recipe for a chicken dinner
- I should eat more fresh broccoli
- I should read “As a Man Thinketh”
The one I choose is number 7. I should read “As a Man Thinketh.” Now I write it as a want
I want to read, “As a Man Thinketh” by James Allen. Whoa, that feels different. Getting rid of the should and replacing it with want feels more motivating now I make it happen, hey the book is free online and it’s short. I can read that in an hour.Sweet! What’s next?!
See how that works? Now if you’re really inspired by this blog, go and try this on your own. Share with others this life changing experience and keep growing, it’s so fun!