• 27th April 2007 - By proteman

    I just ran across some great perspectives on the word, “mediocre.” It’s such a timely word to look at, since one of the biggest issues many leaders struggle with is workers who are content to be just “OK”…nothing more, nothing less.

    Why is it so hard to motivate some folks to go beyond the minimum effort (or brains) required? Maybe these quotes (which I found in this month’s Harvard Magazine - my husband is an alum) will give some insight:

    “Only mediocrity can be trusted to always be its best. Genius must always have lapses proportionate to its triumphs.” (Max Beerbohm, in the Saturday Review, November 5, 1904)

    “Only a mediocre writer is always at his best.” (W. Somerset Maughm’s introduction to The Portable Dorothy Parker, 1944)

    So true! This idea ties back to a previous blog I wrote about failure. If you’re just mediocre, you stay under the radar, in your comfort zone. It’s easy to be good at being average. But if you venture out of your comfort zone and strive for excellence, there’s a chance you may fail. And you may fail big. That’s scary to most people.

    As leaders, what can we take from this? If you want excellence, you’ve got to:

    • Hire for it. By nature, some people are afraid to fail…and therefore afraid to be excellent. Hire people who aren’t afraid to push themselves.
    • Allow failure. Create an enviroment that encourages educated risk-taking. Let people know you expect them to go beyond mediocre…and don’t castigate them when they try and fail.
    • Celebrate excellence. When you see it, celebrate it. If it happens and you ignore it, genius may not happen again.

    © 2006 The Loyalty Group. All Rights Reserved.

  • One Response to “Mediocrity is Bliss!”

    • robert edward cenek on April 30, 2007

      How true!! Great post!

      An organization that allows experimentation, and encourages unconventional ideas, supports those who wish to strive for excellence (and who do not give a second thought about fear of failure).

      robert edward cenek, RODP
      Uncommon Commentary on the World of Work

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