Mediocrity. It is not a word I think much about, as I am not much for being mediocre. I am all about driving excellence, doing your best thinking, pushing the envelope, and iterating over time to hone a craft, project, or outcome. I have extremely high expectations for myself, and those in my life. I am not looking to surround myself with mediocrity. So when I came across this Fast Company article this week, and read a quote I had never heard before about Gap’s new CEO, Art Peck, I had to smile:
“The 59-year-old hates classic rock (because “it’s stuck in time”) and has a quote next to his bed framed by his wife: ‘Beware the lollipop of mediocrity. Lick it once and you suck forever’.”
After a quick Google search I found the quote is from Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys. It is a quote that helps to visualize mediocrity. In a lot of ways it is a good mantra to never settle, to always push, to create new ways of looking and thinking about our lives each day. Whether you are a firefighter, a school teacher, a boss, or you are in a job you hate, you always have a choice of whether you are going to come to work each day and be mediocre. What is the point of life if not to change, learn, and grow? How can you do that when you do not try to be a better person, friend, employee, or family member?
While I do not plan to frame this quote by my bed, it is a great reminder to continue to push myself (yes, I know I am already relentless). To never settle, to ask questions, dig deeper, and live my life to the fullest. I already have a very full life, but whenever the naysayers want to talk me down and bring me back to mediocrity, I will be reminded to stay away from the lollipop.
I found a print over the weekend via the fabulous, Elizabeth Gilbert that sums up what I think about a lot of things. It says: “Own your Shit.” I could never frame it and put it on the wall, as it has a bird on it, and I am not a fan of birds. I like the print because it says what I constantly have running through my head. To me “Own your Shit” means bring yourself 100% to your job, relationship, family, wherever in your life. Know who is counting on you, know what is expected of you, and bring it.
I struggle a lot with others that do not take accountability for their actions. If you say you are going to do something do it. Follow through. Think about the individual on the receiving end of what you need to do. Does your not following through leave them hanging? Does it make them look bad? Does it tell them you do not care?
When you drop the ball, own it. Put yourself out there and communicate that you did not own your shit. Let others know. You own it when you are transparent about when you did not come through. It gives you more credibility. When you do not own your shit, you can lose all credibility.
Whatever story you are telling yourself for why your life is more important, or what you need to do is more important than honoring your commitments, it is bullshit. Do what is your responsibility to do. Do not expect someone else to do it for you. Do not take the easy way out. Own it. Know it. Be it.
I recently came across a book that peaked my interest in the art of fascination. The title is what interested me and when I got the book and found that it was over 400 pages I thought, no way I am going to finish this book. I did. It is actually an easy read. It turns out the beginning part of the book explains the author’s process which describes her fascination test, the middle section defines all the different fascination types, and the last section describes how to create your mantra of sorts. The book? “How the World Sees You: Discover Your Highest Value Through the Science of Fascination” by Sally Hogshead.
Hogshead talks about how we are basically 99% boring, and that we all have 1% in us that is unique to each individual and that is the part of us that fascinates others. She says:
“… every time you introduce yourself, you have about nine seconds to engage your listener. This is your window of opportunity for connection. If you earn their interest during those nine seconds, people will be more likely to trust you, respect you, and like you. But if you fumble—if you fail to fascinate—they’ll become distracted from you and your message. Or worse, they’ll ignore you entirely.” Page 121
I was “fascinated.” All we get is nine seconds, and we have to be our best self in that time to intrigue our listener. Do we talk about ourselves those entire nine seconds or do we connect with another individual? I will have to watch myself in the coming weeks and see what I do in those first nine seconds. You will want to take some time to explore her book. She discusses our first and second advantages and what is your highest, distinct value and that you should bring that to the first nine seconds of meeting someone. She indicates that when we share our highest, distinct value is when we most fascinate others, and when we are the most valuable.
Let me know if you want to know my results from her test. To learn more about Sally Hogshead, or take her test go to the How To Fascinate website.
Do you ever think about how you walk into a room? What does your body language say about your attitude, mood, and demeanor for that meeting? Do you walk in and stay within your little bubble? Or, do you walk in with a smile, your head held high, and engage with others in the room? Do you hide and quietly hope that others do not notice you so you do not have to engage in conversation?
“There is almost nothing better in the world than the feeling of showing up for our own lives. When we can do this, we become people who are more alive and who have the ability to make things happen in our lives and the lives of the people around us. We walk through the world with the knowledge that we have a lot to offer and the desire to share it.”
Showing up. This is a mantra in my life. You might not have a clue about everything that is on your plate, how to make it all happen or juggle it all, but you show up. Being present means we bring it (or it should). We bring the best of ourselves to each encounter and interaction. Our best selves mean we are raw and real and truly alive.
Yesterday I met with a recent college graduate and was asked for advice of what she could do to be most successful in her budding career. My advice to her: “Be willing to do anything and everything. Say yes to everything. Learn from those around you. Innovate in everything you do in order to make all projects you touch better and better.” The result: you learn more about yourself, you gain new skills, you find out what you love, those around you trust you, and you grow each and every day.
We all have a lot to offer. Show up. Bring it. Make shit happen.
Things annoy us. We sometimes go over things in our mind again and again. “Why did they treat me that way?” “How come they do not listen?” Whatever the situation, I have the perfect quote for you. Nevermind that I cannot remember where I found it last week, or who it is from (an Internet search did not prove helpful). What matters is if it gets you thinking. It has me pondering things in life, work, and with friends and family.
“Stop asking why they keep doing it and start asking why you keep allowing it.”
How many times have you felt walked over, disregarded, or simply not heard? What did you do about it? Did you share how you felt? Did you speak up? Or did you just continue with your day, either because you did not want to deal with it, or because you did not know how best to confront the person, or you tried but they did not listen or hear you? How often does that happen to you? I definitely have had those times. However, I usually do not have an issue speaking up and making sure that my voice is heard.
The eye-opening part about this simple line of words is “why you keep allowing it.” That is the key difference for me. I can speak up all I want, but if things do not change, then I continue to allow the behavior. If someone is being disrespectful to you, and you say something (or even if you do not) what matters most is if they continue to disrespect you and you let them. Interesting that it means we permit these things to happen to us, by not putting a stop to them. I know it is easier said than done, and not all situations are truly in our control, but this idea is a good mantra to remember, that when you continue to complain about why someone keeps treating you in a certain way, that you ask yourself: “Why do I keep allowing them to treat me in that way?”