Mediocre means “ordinary, average, middle-of-the-road, unexceptional, lackluster and forgettable.” In many ways, I would put myself in the category of mediocre. I’m 5 foot 9 inches tall and weigh 190 pounds. My bench press and squat numbers are nothing impressive. I got a 1060 on my SATs (the old version). My yearly income is nothing to “write home about”. By most accounts, I am pretty mediocre.
The thought of mediocrity has been one that has entered my mind several times over the past year. The realization of my own mediocrity was nothing new. I have little chance to become exceptional in most areas. Even for my age, the benchmarks of excellence are pretty high. This divide creates a chasm that stagnates improvement. With the possibility of excellence off the table, it is easy to see why so many people lose their drive. However it is actually in this chasm that I believe we actually have the greatest of societal opportunities. As a collective (Athletes, Americans, Humans), we can choose to strive for better mediocrity.
In the past, I have written about the “Bannister Effect” and how the breaking of new ground creates possibilities for others to follow. That is a concept that I still endorse wholeheartedly. However as I thought about my own mediocrity, I came to realize that we need a “second wave”. There must be another push from the middle. The outliers pulling forward will only have an effect on those that are close to their level. For example, the 10s only pull the 9s forward but the effect is almost unnoticeable by the time that it reaches the critical mass in the middle.
This second wave needs to be created as an individual and a collective undertaking. The mediocre individual competes for the most part with himself. Improving with a partially selfish desire to take a step up one rung on the ladder. Despite this selfish motivation, the individual also recognizes his membership of a collective (Athletes, Americans, Humans). The “mediocre Americans” are getting better. The middle of the road changes from 5 to 7 and there is a pride in self and the collective.
Better mediocrity would change so many things about our lives and expectations. Perhaps mediocre would no longer be a slight insult but rather an identifiable force pushing the forerunners to greater excellence. If you happen to be mediocre, choose to be better mediocre!