Culture of Mediocrity

By | Jan 2, 2009

Let’s talk about mediocrity. We are a society of followers (ever hear the phrase ‘Monkey see, monkey do’?) We are trained to do what the leader does and to act like the cool kids. We want flash, style, appeal, and success. There are phases we go through – when we follow, when we adapt, and when we innovate. North America has lost its ability to innovate.

Why are we bailing out our car companies? One in seven jobs relies directly on the automotive industry – so what? We are sending the message that it is O.K. to create a business that produces products which fail to excite its customers. I’m still not convinced the bailouts will even work in the long-term. Unless the Big Three improve their products they will continue to be disappointed in sales. That has nothing at all to do with competition, recession, or the customers themselves; it has everything to do with providing value through responsible planning and focused hard work.

I am often disappointed in my peers, to the point that I have to look outside my normal networks in order to find decent business partners. Among the young adults of today there seems to be a lack of ambition – everything they do is “good enough”. I am by no means perfect but I demand the best of myself in every endeavor and ask those around me to do the same. I expect low-quality work and lack of attention to detail from someone fresh out of high school, but a college graduate should know better.

The Internet is a powerful tool for business-building. Because there are so many people doing the same thing at the same time, the “crowd” is, in theory, unforgiving of bad business models. In order to succeed you need to innovate and demonstrate your professionalism. These concepts existed before the Internet, but the time difference between launching an idea and seeing its results has been narrowed significantly.

I offer the following advice to anyone hoping to significantly improve their fortunes in the global market:

Master English (or, your language of choice)
On any medium, but especially on the Internet, words are the currency of ideas. Effective communication happens when you take words (those otherwise cold and impersonal building blocks of speech) and breathe life into them; when someone reads your work, they need to feel as if they are taking part in a conversation where the writer has thought about their audience.

Don’t settle for spellcheck – learn how to spell. Learn the ins and outs of grammar. Read your work out loud. Use paragraphs, sentences, and punctuation. Do not post anything to the web that doesn’t look like it should be in a magazine.

Never Settle
No matter how good you are at something, there is always room for improvement.  Unless you are Chuck Norris, someone will always be better than you at something. Don’t be discouraged by this – use it as inspiration. Enjoy successes but never stop asking yourself how you can get better.

Demand Perfection
You will never produce your best work unless you demand it of yourself. Every time you think you’ve nailed something, try improving it one last time. Expect the same of others and let them know when you have been let down. Always recognize progress in yourself and others.

Stop Mediocrity
It’s true – we live in a society of privilege. Children are overprotected, the advertising media white-washes everything in order to move more product. Teenagers are desensitized to violence. Science is under seige due to the growing numbers of the poorly educated (note: not uneducated). In all aspects our society has become one where the bar is set so low that we expect mediocrity.

There will always be a place for innovators and movers. Let’s do all we can to once again become the earth-moving society that was able to put a man on the moon.

4 Comments so far
  1. Good Riddance 2009 | Ignorant Mouth January 4, 2010 8:37 pm

    […] year has saw a lot of ups and downs. We started off watching the car industry with some disgust, questioning the culture of mediocrity that allowed the situation to spiral out of control. We say: Too big to fall? Too big to exist. >a […]

  2. Ian July 1, 2010 12:03 pm

    I couldn’t agree more, it’s as if you took those very words from my mind!

  3. Greg October 1, 2011 2:36 pm
  4. […] Culture of Mediocrity (blog posting) […]

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