I’ve spent years in environment where we put a big emphasis to hire only the best of the best. Where the goal was to have a team of overachievers. Mottos like “no one was hired to be mediocre” where often quoted. But how do you actually know if someone, or in fact, if you are mediocre? How do you know you are not the over-achiever you believe you are?
Let’s face it. All of us believe that we are better than others. At least in some ways. “I’m definitely better driver than most of the others. I’m much better manager. I’m really good parent. I’m a great listener and always annoyed when I need to constantly talk so others see it.”
Merriam-Webber describes mediocre as “of moderate or low quality, value, ability, or performance: ordinary, so-so”. This is of course relative to the task you are doing. You can be a great driver and a mediocre cook. Whether you are mediocre at something is a result of your priorities, skills, attitude and effort you put into a given activity.
So how do you recognize that you are mediocre?
Considering how quickly the world around us changes the best way to see whether you are mediocre or not is to look at how you respond to the changes. Do you embrace change and constantly learn to keep up with the world? Or do you just sit back and wait what will happen to you? If the later applies, you are most likely mediocre. You are the one who is left behind by the forward moving world around you.
You don’t give your best
Mediocre people sort of give up on improving and even on giving their best. They just plow through the day doing what needs to be done but without much interest and with no intention of going above and beyond. So if you find yourself doing just what is necessary and not more than you are most likely a mediocre employee.
You don’t mind that you are not giving your best
Doing just the bare minimum and not giving your best is a strong indicator, but what really seals the deal of your mediocrity is when you don’t give your best and you don’t mind. It just doesn’t bother you. For any achiever or over-achiever doing work that is not particularly good really worries him or her.
Over-achievers are different
Any over-achiever strives to be better and better. You don’t necessarily need to be the best at any given task but you always try to do the best you can. What more, you always strive to learn and to improve. You want to do your best job today, but you want to do even a bit better job tomorrow. That is what drives achievers. And that is what turns them into over-achievers.
We are going through phases
Even the over-achievers have their down times. Not everything always goes right and not every day is your best. It is that internal voice that tells you that you didn’t do a good job and makes you dissatisfied, that voice is also telling you that you are over-achiever who had a bad day.
So the million dollar question is: “Is it OK to be mediocre?” And the answer really depends on your worldview, internal drives and what makes you happy. For someone to be mediocre is totally fine and they should never feel bad about it (in fact, by definition, they don’t) or try to change it, because being over-achiever very often also mean setting high bars and constantly chasing being better and better. And that doesn’t necessarily mean a happier life.
What is your take on mediocre employees? Are you fine having such people on your team or do you believe there is something wrong with them? And how do you see yourself?
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