There’s no penalty for being mediocre.
You can easily spend the rest of your life putting in decent effort, with decent results, at the gym, at work, at home.
No one is going to call you out for being average. There’s lots of company at average. It is, well, the average.
Many people make concentrated efforts to be “normal” – and who are we to throw rocks at them? They just want to fit in, not be picked on, be left to live in peace in society. They want to belong, and to be left alone.
But that’s not you, is it?
I hope not. I hope you’ve seen a glimpse of how glorious life is on the edge, in the clouds, beyond the pale of the mediocre. I hope you know the thrill of doing one thing—anything—with such grace and beauty that it takes your own breath away to even think about it. That it makes your heart beat faster. That it makes your eyes wet and a big grin spread like warm sunshine across your face.
I don’t care if that feeling came at work, at the gym, at home, in the arms of your lover, your child, your mother, your couch. It doesn’t matter if you felt it on a wooden platform with a crisp, shiny barbell in your hands, at the finish line of a 100-meter sprint in the dirty alley of an industrial park at an hour when most people are just rising, or if it happened alone, late at night, with just you and a glowing screen and some words that, strung together, gave you hope somehow that you were meant for something special and there is actually a reason that you are here now in this insane, confusing world.
All I care is that you felt something, sometime, someplace, somewhere that let you see beyond the world of what is, and into the world of what could be.
You see, like Nancy Slonim Aronie once wrote: “Great work comes after good work which comes after lousy work which comes after no work.”
I need you to work at something that thrills your heart, at some point in your day, as full as it is of schedules, and hours, and obligations and children and family and places like the grocery store.
The world needs you to work at something that you want, desperately, to be excellent at.
There is so much mediocrity in the world that if one person, just one person (it could be you), decided to stop dialing it in, things would be okay.
The earth will keep spinning, even if a hundred or a thousand or a hundred thousand or a million people decided to pursue excellence in at least one thing. The world would continue, and (more importantly) maybe your heart would start really beating. Not just the thump-thump-thump of your bodily systems working, but the THUMP-THUMP-THUMP of your life really being lived.
Great work-good work-lousy work-no work. Wherever you are in this line, keep moving.
Keep striving. And don’t stop. We need you to keep going. You need you to keep going. Find your excellence.