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7 Warning Signs That You Are Living A Life Of Mediocrity

A day after a recent Board meeting, our Chairman phoned me up. He asked if he could be candid about something. I, of course, gave him permission.

“I notice that you have a tendency to engage with every Board member. You seek their input, address their issue by repeating their comments. If you didn’t do that, it would knock 15 minutes off the meeting time!”

To be honest, I was stunned by his comments. What was he looking for – pleasing methods or pleasing results?

I serve on a number of Boards. This one happened to be for a non-for-profit organisation. The focus during that meeting was to get approval for a number of initiatives, most of which included financial investments.

Prior to the meeting, we had a number of emails that were flying about between Board Members relating to these projects. In the main, the points being raised were rather fragile and were more self-serving and protectionist from their author.

Using my consultative approach, I managed to gain acceptance by all the Board Members. When we asked for the motion to be passed for the approval to invest in all these projects, we received a resounding “ABSOLUTELY!!!” from the most resolutely vocal and negative Board Member.

Mission accomplished – even though it took an additional 15 minutes!

As I reflected upon this experience, here are 7 signs that you are living a life of mediocrity:

1) You worry more about appearances than outcomes.

In this case, you are someone who is more likely to look at the outward appearance of a situation and judge the ‘book by its cover’, rather than dig deeper. Just because you can see a mess, it doesn’t mean that the task isn’t being accomplished. As they say, you need to crack an egg to make an omelet!

2) You nit-pick and focus on the small stuff before you praise others for their efforts.

Mediocre people tend to focus on what hasn’t been done as opposed to the progress made.

The next time you are about to criticize a colleague, see if there is something that you can acknowledge. Then use the Toastmasters philosophy of providing feedback using the CRC methodology. That stands for “Commend; Recommend; Commend”. Say something positive, make a recommendation for an improvement and finish with another positive commendation.

3) You seek pleasing methods as opposed to pleasing results.

As with point (1) above, you are more interested in methodology than performance and results. Not everyone wants to follow the same methodology. Sometimes you need to be flexible with your approach to ensure that you are able to bring others along with you on the journey.

After all, as my mentor John Maxwell says, “If you reach the top of the mountain and look back to find that you are there by yourself, you haven’t led anyone. You’ve simply gone out for a walk!” Take people with you by showing them that you are looking for pleasing results.

4) You fail to connect with people.

People will buy into the leader before they buy into the vision. This applies across the board – whether you are in sales, education or non-for-profit. A mediocre individual will try to do things by themselves.

Nothing of significance has been achieved in isolation. Even Sir Edmund Hillary needed Sherpa Tenzing Norgay to help him conquer Mt Everest.

5) You have stopped dreaming.

If you find yourself unable to recall the last time that you had a dream, then you have a problem. Life can become so overbearing that coping can be seen as treading water. To stop you being mediocre, take time to pause what you are doing and to reflect. Jim Collins, author of Good to Great, calls it P.W.S. – Personal White Space. A time when you can switch off your phone, disable email and interruptions.

By investing in this for as little as 5 minutes a day, 1 hour a month and up to 3 days a year, you will be surprised on your ability to start dreaming again.

6) You always look for the short-cut.

If you are in a hurry all the time, you might find that you are short-changing your success. Whilst I am an advocate of outsourcing, I think that there is a lot of positive learning that can be gained by completing a task.

Going through all the steps helps to give you an appreciation of the task at hand and can give you the determination to persevere. As a wise man once said to me, the only time you see success come before work is in the dictionary!

7) You always hit your goals without any effort.

If you are a goal setter and you regularly achieve target, then you’ve simply set your sights too low! Give yourself a stretch target and accompany it with some ‘slack’ (which you can use on yourself in the unlikely event that you do not achieve your goal). Mistakes happen and they strengthen you.

If you have ever seen the cartoon strip “Peanuts”, you may recall seeing Charlie Brown walk away from Lucy after a baseball game, head down, totally dejected. “Another ball game lost! Good grief!” Charlie moans. “I get tired of losing. Everything I do, I lose!”

“Look at it this way, Charlie Brown,” Lucy replies. “We learn more from losing than we do from winning!

“That makes me the smartest person in the world!” replies Charlie Brown.

Lucy’s advice makes a lot of sense, but not everyone learns from their losses. A loss doesn’t turn into a lesson unless we work hard to make it so.

If you recognized yourself in any of the 7 warning signs listed above, learn from your mistakes and turn from mediocrity to success in 7 simple steps.

Nsanz GSF