As a kid you had dreams—dreams of what you were going to do with your life. These dreams were likely refined as you grew up, finished college, and got a job. All along, you hoped your efforts were leading to bigger and better things. You probably never once expressed a desire to achieve mediocrity. Few people want a mediocre job or life, yet the place called Mediocrity might be where you temporarily find yourself living.
The word “mediocre” comes from a combination of ancient words that mean half or in the middle (medius), and rugged mountain (ocris). Applying that definition to your career, you probably didn’t start out being mediocre. More likely you started out at a good pace. You were climbing that career mountain with perseverance and energy, but somehow you got stuck part way up. From your current vantage point, you can still see the peaks that were your career goals, but you don’t seem to be able to reach them. Instead, you watch as others pass you by on their more successful climbs. You wonder how they know which path to take, or what tools they might have that you lack.
Perhaps when you got stuck (you might have lost your job or gotten fired or laid off), you simply settled for, and into, what was available. Or along your career path, you lost your ambition, your love of your chosen field, or your confidence — all necessary equipment for making the long climb. You’re not really satisfied living in a place called Mediocrity, but its comfort is seductive. No one expects too much of you, and you don’t expect too much of yourself. Is Mediocrity the place where you are destined to stay? Does this mean you have already reached the high point of your career climb? Is it all downhill from here?
If the answers to those questions are no, how can you get back to conquering your career mountain. First of all, get your bearings. How did you happen to arrive at your current location, and where do you really want to end up? What paths are available to you? Of those, which is the best path for you to take to move upward right now? Can you map out the way to go?
Then make certain you are equipped appropriately. Do you have all the tools necessary for the trek? If not, what do you need in order to be better prepared? Will it require some additional training or some expert advice? You could wait for a new leader to come along and follow her or his lead, but who knows when that will happen? It might be more advantageous for you to take a bold step forward and to forge your own path.
Most importantly, be certain to leave Mediocrity behind you. Put forth your best effort, not some half-hearted attempt. Keep going despite the challenges and the impediments. Try harder. Climb higher. Mediocrity might have been a brief place to stop to rest and regroup, but you certainly don’t want to dwell there.