Few people aspire to mediocrity. But they often drift into it because the temptation to cut corners and take the easy route is often not recognized. It’s not recognized because it’s often veiled in the advice to “be reasonable.”
But if you are going to be effective — that is, if you are going to truly serve people well (which is what effectiveness is about), then you can’t settle for being reasonable. You have to go the extra mile.
Here’s how Patrick Lencioni puts it in his latest newsletter:
If you’re not willing to do things that others would say are over the top, and if you’re not comfortable being criticized for being annoying and for having standards that seem perhaps just a little too high, then you’ll drift toward mediocrity.
And though no one would ever aspire to being mediocre, it is more tempting than we might realize.
After all, the majority of people out there will encourage us to take the easy route, because that isn’t threatening to them. They’ll support us as we justify cutting a corner here and lowering our standards there, because it isn’t reasonable to do anything more.
And I suppose that’s the whole point. Success isn’t about being reasonable. It’s demanding. It’s over the top. It can even be annoying. But it’s worth it.