It’s easy to be forgotten when there are so many that are better than you. So why exert the extra effort when you can get along by simply doing as little as possible.
Virtually everyone has heard of Confucius, Aristotle, Plato, Socrates, Aquinas, and Locke, to name only a few of the most notable. Many aspects of our personal and professional lives are influenced by the thinking, teachings and writings of one or more of these great minds. Yet there is one forgotten philosopher who is followed by more people than any other.
Mediocrities is the forgotten, and uncelebrated, but most followed philosopher’s who taught, “Do only enough to get by.” Why excel when it’s so much easier to easier to fail? Why make something perfect if good enough will do?
Strangely enough, many people even unknowingly adhere to his philosophy in raising their children. Do you remember being told that things should be done in moderation?
Think of all the people you know who go through life satisfied with doing just enough to get by when with a little more effort, they could do more. Usually when you say this people will tell you something like, “It’s not just a little more, it’s a whole lot more. If all it took was just a little more, everyone would do it.”
Not true. A little goes a long way.
In USA Gymnastics history, Peter Vidmar is the highest-scoring gymnast. At the 1984 Games, he collected a gold on the pommel horse, after earning a perfect 10, and a second place finish in the individual all-around, becoming the first American to secure an all-around medal at the Games.
After winning the Gold Medal, Vidmar was the keynote speaker at a National Utility Contractors Association annual meeting many years ago. During the banquet, the press was given the opportunity to sit at the table with him. I got super lucky and was seated next to him. While we talked during the meal, I asked him what he had done that gave him the edge to earn a perfect score 10. He commented that during his competition, he noticed that the one common denominator was that everyone who won, won by just a little bit more than the person to beat. It was a tiny point spread between the winner and number two. It was tenths of a point, tenths of a second, or millimeters.
He said that he figured he didn’t have to be a lot better, he just had to try to be a little bit better. To accomplish this, he said that he pushed himself and worked out 10 minutes longer than anyone else and that the added 10 minutes gave him the winning edge.
Mediocrities says, “Don’t do today what you can put off until tomorrow. Maybe someone else will do it and you won’t have to.” If you follow this advice you will not only never win the Gold, you’ll never get a shot at it.
We have (or will have in a few days) newly elected representatives in Congress as well as all other political offices on the federal, state, county and municipal level. We need these people to put in an extra 10 minutes a day so that we can move forward on all levels. There are so many pieces of legislation that need to be handled; so many things that need to be done that are pending, such as the highway bill. We too need to put in an extra 10 minutes a day communicating with the people who have recently been elected to represent us making certain that they remember what got them elected and why they have assumed the responsibility of representation.
Don’t worry about Mediocrities. He may be forgotten but his philosophy will prevail, just as it has for centuries.
“ Excellence is a better teacher than mediocrity. The lessons of the ordinary are everywhere. Truly profound and original insights are to be found only in studying the exemplary.”
“The difference between greatness and mediocrity is often how an individual views a mistake.”
Mediocrities will appear in the November 2014 issues of the 13 ACP magazines.