One of the myths is that we are all a bunch of rugged individualists, but it simply is not true. There are some exceptions, of course, but for the majority, it is not that way.
You may imagine yourself as a combination of Patrick Henry, Davy Crockett, John Wayne, or Amelia Earhart. The truth is that most of us would do anything to keep from being different. One of our greatest fears is not being part of the ‘in-crowd’. What about the fear of standing out, fear of being talked about or misunderstood? Are you like Gulliver, tied down by tiny strands of fear, real or imagined? The result is; a lack of courage (Chapter 2 of my book; Build Your Career 180).
When I was teenager, I got a summer job working for the city public works department, where the vast majority got hired based on an affiliation to a particular political party. I learned quickly that the maintenance of a mediocre productivity standard was one of the unwritten rules of that shop. Pressure was applied to anyone who worked unusually hard or was more productive. Why? It made others look bad and there was no way they would allow that to happen. Comments, if ignored, would be followed by direct confrontation. And if that didn’t work, there were stronger measures taken to ensure the level of mediocrity. They would have no part of excellence. Conform or else! Such environments are not uncommon in many workplaces.
The high achievers at work are usually viewed with some contempt or jealousy, but not respect. Instead of giving their best to do better, others would rather put down the co-worker or close them out of the inner circle. People don’t want anyone to soar, especially if they prefer to go along to get along. Few work environments today are the places where eagle types pursuing excellence are admired and encouraged to reach even greater heights.
Mediocrity is fast becoming the norm. Every imaginable excuse is now used to make it acceptable and hopefully preferred. Incompetence and status quo is held up as all we can expect and the tragedy is that more and more people have succumbed.
To make it painfully plain, why think clearly since most want someone else to think for them? Why live differently in a society where it’s so much easier to look and act the same? Why strive for excellence when nobody seems to care? Why stand courageously if it means risking derision, jealousy or contempt?
Should you wait for someone else to establish your standard? It is my firm conviction that those that strive to achieve a higher level of performance, widening the gap between compensation and value, are the ones committed to living above the level of mediocrity.
The achievement of excellence is a difficult concept to communicate, but I believe I have accomplished that with my book, “Build Your Career 180, 5 Street Smart Strategies To Never Be Unemployed or Underemployed In Any Economy”. A commitment to achievement is neither popular nor quick, but it is imperative to pursue and achieve excellence.