Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Latest Scourge - Striving For Mediocrity

I was in a meeting with Dr. Stephen Covey some years ago to discuss a project that I was seeking his help on when he interrupted me to make an observation.

A journey inside your mind is both exciting and terrifying at the same time.

I was taken aback by this and asked if I should take this as a compliment.

He laughed and said, “Of course you should.  You dare to see unlimited opportunity and you are audacious enough to demand an opportunity to manifest it.  Not only that but you dare other people to come along for the ride and to share in the rewards.”.

I never thought of myself this way and I was humbled to receive such an observation by a man whom I have held in the highest regard for years.

Just as I went to Dr. Covey for his help, many people come to me with their personal and professional dreams.

They often use phrases like “going for the gold”, “seizing the day”, “striving for greatness” or some other cliché that they express in an effort to demonstrate to me (and to themselves) that they will do whatever it takes.

On closer inspection however, it is common to see that something is holding them back and their mind is bound up in the structural intention of wanting to do whatever it takes while not actually doing it.

When confronted with a smorgasbord of things that they can choose from the buffet of success, they choose one or two and leave the rest on the table (often lamenting that they couldn’t take more).

I know all about it.  I’ve experienced this myself in my past and so when I point this out to them, I’m not making an observation from my ivory tower.  I’m using personal experience (and struggles) as context for my observation.

They seem to be saving themselves, holding themselves back as a great jockey holds back a thoroughbred until the moment that the finish line is in sight, after which they release their mount to run the race of its Life.

The reasons are many and from their perspective and context, completely valid.  If I had their genetics and Life experiences, I would probably be demonstrating the same behavior.

However, even when their finish line is in sight, many of these people continue to hold themselves back.

That’s not to say that we must run pell mell through Life, burning ourselves and others out in a frantic attempt to reap every reward within reach.  Living a Life well-lived means knowing when one should jog, walk or just sit down and rest (or even to be carried by someone else for a little while).

But there also comes a time, if we really believe that we want to manifest the best that Life has to offer, when we need to throw care to the wind and DARE to risk everything.

It may result in success.

It may result in failure.

Either way, there will be a helluva story to share with others later!  People who wonder why I have so many stories to share don’t realize that these stories represent the results of daring to live a Life well-lived.  Sometimes stuff worked as desired.  Sometimes it didn’t.

True success, personally and professionally, doesn’t come for those who play Life tentatively.

We can either dare to fail greatly or fail to dare greatly.

Living an audacious Life isn’t reflected in the words you speak.

It is reflected in the actions you take.

And these actions, when taken, reveal possibilities and opportunities that wouldn’t manifest had we chosen to hold ourselves back from our ultimate potential.

For all of us, the finish line is closer than we would like to admit.

It is time to run the race of your Life.

Well … unless you prefer to strive for mediocrity.  There’s a lot of that going around.

I don’t think you want a Life of mediocrity.

Do you?

Don’t just tell me.

Prove it.

In service and servanthood,


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