“It’s a giant vat of mediocrity,” I said to my friend.
I was disgusted at the situation. I desire excellence, or at least the clear pursuit of it, but it seemed that excellence was less important than group harmony and status quo in the situation.
Groups, by their very nature, are about compromise and survival. They shift focus from their original purpose and instead put it on keeping the group alive; they have to compromise among the members to make this happen harmoniously. This leads to two problems for the group: The inability to see the group for what it should be, could be, or if it should even still be; and the compromise of quality output.
This is what concerned me; my name was on the product with the rest of the group, and the product wasn’t excellent.
It’s like a product.
Product A came out. It was nice. It did its job. But as time went on, it clearly needed some work. And so product B arrives.
Product B, compared to A, is amazing. It is a clear and marked improvement. Everyone is so excited at B for just for being an improvement over A that they stop thinking about whether B should ever be upgraded. They don’t realize that product C and D are possible. They are just happy to have B. They protect B at all costs, protesting that it is “better than A.” B is safe.
This is when you happily embrace mediocrity because you think you are standing for excellence. You’re living in reference to the most recent improvement and not the overall picture.
Mediocrity is easy, after all. It upsets no one. It’s the minimal effort in a minimal amount of time to get a job done. It feels safe and comfortable, because it’s what we know the longest.
Like VHS tapes. They seemed like such improvements over what had been. Aren’t you glad it didn’t stop there? They were better for a time, but they weren’t the best.
How do you escape mediocrity?
Don’t be happy with B.
Stop and actually consider if what you are dealing with is a product B. If you personally can’t move beyond B for whatever reason, get out of the way and let someone else take the next step. It’s not a personal failure. Product B and its supporters — you — were necessary to get from A to C. You needed to start with something, and you did. But, if you latch onto B out of loyalty or fear, run. You have the wrong motives. Your time is done. You, and product B, are in the way.
Happy with product B and not willing to rock the boat? Your product will never improve. It will never progress. It will never change. It will fade away. It deserves to.
And you will rarely taste excellence because you don’t even recognize what it is.
Follow Up Post: Good Enough is Never Good Enough, And Perfection Is Impossible