When I was working in opera, I shared my dressing room with a charming and pretty colleague, who, night after night, would slap on her stage make-up, shrug into her costume, do a scale or two, cast a glance in the mirror and declare to her reflection: “Ca ira pour maintenant.” (“That’ll do for now.”)
Here was a young singer, an artist, who, before doing the most important thing in her career – and as I was to learn, in her life – that is, going on stage and singing in front of hundreds of people, put herself into a mindset of “That’ll do for now.” I never dared to ask her when exactly this wouldn’t “do” any more.
Of course I can’t know how this affected her singing, but I’ll have yet to be persuaded that you can give the best as an artist when you start every evening by telling yourself “That’ll do for now.” And, unsurprisingly, her career never took of.
She was keeping herself stuck in mediocrity.
The Mediocrity Trap
The fact is, we all do this to a certain extent.
We fear to be judged as “high maintenance” or “complicated”, to hear “who do you think you are?” or “So, a normal life/career/work/ hobby/ partner is not good enough for you?”
Be plain and be safe, right?
It is true that it takes courage to see and to admit where we are stuck in mediocrity (the more so, when it is considered ‘normal’.) We listen to that voice in our head that tells us that we are not good enough anyway; that it won’t make a difference, that no one else does or has what we desire for, that really, we ‘should’ be reasonable…A caveat though:
Alive, not perfect
The alternative to mediocrity is not stressing yourself out for an unrealistic idea of ‘perfection’. The alternative is feeling alive, and this starts by embracing who we are, including what we believe to be our imperfections.
Does this make sense?
One of the most exhilarating aspects of my work is when I see my clients progressing on their way to discover and uncover the best possible version of them.
They blossom, sometimes explode, love, laugh and cry. They become more alive than they have been in a long time (for some of them years and decades). They stop old habits and start new ways. They don’t play the game of mediocrity any longer:
- They start offering themselves the best available, rather than save it for ‘later’. God, at times this is a hard battle – you know who you are!
- They make upgrading a part of their every day habits. I can’t begin to tell you what an enjoyable experience it is to listen when a woman describes with gusto all the things she has been doing for herself lately.
- They stop groaning when it comes try something new, to do something scary, to go the extra mile. Ok – they might still groan a little bit. But then they go!
- They finally start believing it when someone tells them how beautiful they are. Because they are!
- They stop believing that they have to be everyone’s doormat in order to be liked or loved. And then they are surprised how much energy they suddenly have.
- They start investing into themselves, which has less to do with money and more with mindset.
- They stop their excuses.
- They stop playing small and being defensive, which most of the time was simply a way to hide their anger
- They start to search out experiences, which make them feel alive higher than ‘perfect’ (belly laughter rather than botox!)
- They stop believing that they’ll first have to “achieve their goal” (world Peace. Losing 10 pounds. Getting the promotion. Finding a partner. Leaving a partner. Making a baby. Raising a baby. Learn sky-diving. Make money) before they can really start “living”.