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 have VERY high expectations. I really do. Ask Chris any day and he will vigorously shake his head and potentially roll his eyes. I want things to be good, well not good, but great, amazing, superb, and I will not settle for less. I will do whatever I can to make things happen. I have often wondered what made me cultivate such high expectations? I think some folks desire amazing cars, or worldly adventurous experiences. I just expect the best out of everyone I meet. So? What is wrong with that?
I am in the middle of reading: “Coming Clean” by Kimberly Rae Miller. It is about her life growing up with hoarder parents. A fascinating read and compelling memoir as it makes me think about strange happenings with families. While my parents were definitely not hoarders, my dad kept a lot of junk and I think that has evolved to why I am such a minimalist today. I just do not like to live around stuff, I want my surroundings to be about what is necessary, and what helps me thrive in my space. I wonder if my minimalist nature was living around meaningless “stuff” that just filled empty space? Is that what motivates hoarders, a way to fill a void? I do not know, but this section of her book about never settling resonated with me:
“I had taken the promise I made my mother seriously, making a mantra out of never settle, repeating the two words in my head over and over again when I wasn’t sure whether to do the smart thing or the scary thing. Never settle echoed on and on in my head during the days I was locked in a closet sorting headshots, a requirement of my internship at the agency.” page 129
I wholeheartedly agree with Miller. I never want to settle, instead of being resistant to change, I am resistant to settling. I will go at a problem from hundreds of ways before I will give up or settle. Ultimately if I settle it is because I really do not care about the outcome. Sort of like which direction the toilet paper hangs (well for some of you that might not be an issue you would ever settle on). For me, it is just toilet paper, but there are other items in my life that I would never settle on, like a job, or a spouse, my home, or my friends. We should never settle on the important things in life.
I have not finished reading this book, so you might hear from me again about the further inspiration I have gained. For those of you that decide to settle, especially because you think that you are not worth it. Debunk that myth. Stop settling. Just stop.