MEDIOCRE. I abhor the word and everything it stands for: Moderate to inferior quality, not very good. Not satisfactory. Ordinary.
Certainly nothing to aspire to. At least as far as I’m concerned. But to some degree, we all settle for it everyday. Why am I bringing it up? Because of yesterday’s WordPress Daily Prompt: “If you could permanently ban a word from general usage, which one would it be? Why?”
So yes. “Mediocre” would be my word.
Maybe you’re thinking it’s a bit of a strange choice. Maybe you’re wondering why I didn’t pick “hate”. Or “war”. Or “hunger”. Or “poverty”. Or “cancer”. Or “abuse”. Or “Kardashian”.
Well, just so you know, I did think of them. And several more. But I kept coming back to this one. To “mediocre”.
Here’s why. To me, mediocrity is a serious malaise. It can destroy our potential. As individuals. As corporations. As governments. As nations. Mediocrity is the opposite of everything the American dream stands for. Even worse, it’s insidious. It takes a while before you can see its effects. And by then it’s too late.
There’s another reason I chose it, though. An even better reason. Of all the words I could have picked instead, this is one we have the power to do something about. We can make it go away. We can ensure it doesn’t get the better of us. We can make
sure it doesn’t stop us from succeeding.
Wanna know how?
We can raise our standards. We can refuse to settle for less than we should. From ourselves. And from each other.
Hell, I know not everyone can be a superstar. Not everyone can run as fast as Usain Bolt. Hit as many home runs as Babe Ruth. We can’t all paint like Michelangelo. Dance like Nureyev. Act as brilliantly as Meryl Streep. Not all politicians can lead as effectively or be regarded as highly as Winston Churchill.
But by God, we can try. We can break a sweat. We can work hard. We can want to be the best we can possible be. We can care. We can take pride in what we do, regardless of what it is. Like our grandfathers did. And their grandfather’s before them. We can stop cutting ourselves, and others, slack. We can avoid taking shortcuts. Stop looking for the easy way out. Do whatever’s quicker. Cheaper. We can start holding ourselves and the people we hire and the companies we do business with and the politicians we elect, accountable. We can demand their best. And our own.
How many times do you eat in a restaurant and tell your friends the food “wasn’t bad”? Why do we spend our hard-earned dollars on a meal we basically didn’t really enjoy? And then go back to that same restaurant another time? Why do we see the quality of goods go down, while the prices go up and we buy it all anyway? Why do we accept bad service?
All of us do it. Why? Especially when it’s so easy to say “No”.