Things like laziness, apathy, and a deep routed fear that we’re not good enough can allow mediocrity to creep in.
It’s undeniably the easier option in life. Just getting by but nothing else. But for some people “that’ll do” simply isn’t good enough.
They refuse to accept mediocrity. Here are some of their special traits…
1) They’re fully accountable for themselves
You’re never going to be able to push the boundaries of possibility when you’re stuck in victim mode.
You need a can-do attitude that relies on taking 100% responsibility for your life.
When you take the approach that:
- Everything that happens in your life is down to you
- Every reaction you have to certain circumstances is up to you
- Everything you want it’s down to you to go out and get
…Something shifts within you.
You are no longer waiting for life to be handed to you on a silver platter or busy blaming everyone around you.
In the process, you take control of your own power.
2) They have the self-awareness to accept (and work on) their flaws
If you want to improve, you have to take an honest look at what you’re working with.
That means understanding both your weaknesses and your strengths.
Self-awareness allows us to reflect on what makes us tick.
That way we better get to grips with our thoughts and feelings.
In doing so we understand our motivators and where we may be hiding. Both of these are vital if we want to reach towards higher standards.
3) They hate excuses
One thing that won’t wash with those who strive for excellence in life is excuses.
They know that excuses are justifications that we grasp at in order to let ourselves off the hook.
There’s a big difference between our reasons and plain old excuses.
Sometimes we will face setbacks. It’s ok to acknowledge these, then we can work on them.
But excuses take a defeatist attitude that can be used to explain away mediocrity.
4) They are deeply honest
Sometimes our excuses are even lies that we tell ourselves and others in an attempt to feel better.
Because nobody likes to fail or feel inadequate.
But rather than falling back on denial, those who never accept mediocrity think it’s better to face up to the truth.
It takes plenty of courage to get real with ourselves and others. It demands vulnerability.
But it’s better to tell it like it is and move forward than get stuck where you are.
5) They are driven by high standards
Our definition of what is good enough is generally dictated by how high or low we set the bar.
Sometimes, I chastise myself for being lazy and not getting as much done as I could. And for sure, it’s true. But it’s also true that I take pride in my work.
I don’t want to hand in shoddy work. That would feel embarrassing and inappropriate to me.
So I am reminded that my standards are actually pretty high. Because I refuse to dip below a certain level that I deem acceptable.
Everyone’s version of what’s “mediocre” is going to be slightly different. But those who will not accept it have self-determined high standards that drive them to deliver.
6) They enjoy learning
If we want to rise above, we have to keep consuming more knowledge as we go.
As the saying goes:
What got you here won’t get you there.
Meaning, that we must be constantly open to improvement if we are to grow.
Whether it’s new skills, information, improvements to how they currently do things, or simply understanding more about themselves — they want to learn.
7) They graciously accept feedback
Here’s the funny thing about praise:
We all want it, but it’s not necessarily always good for us.
Sure, appreciation can be an important factor in motivation. But constant praise can make us complacent.
If you hear non-stop good things, how do you know what you should be working on?
That’s why constructive feedback is so useful, but not always welcomed.
Fragile egos can’t take critique.
But when we are big enough people to do so, it helps us to redirect our energy onto the things we may be overlooking and need our attention.
8) They reflect on their mistakes
Reflection is yet another useful skill that we all need to embrace if we want to step things up.
It can be painful to stop and consider where we’ve screwed up.
It’s tempting to push those unpleasant feelings away. But in doing so we miss out on an opportunity:
The chance to analyze what went wrong and why.
Figuring out those things provides valuable lessons that come in handy for the future.
That way, we grow from our mistakes instead of repeating them.
9) They are confident and have strong self-esteem
We’ve already touched on the fact that striving for something and feeling like you don’t succeed can be quite a knock.
That’s why you need to have plenty of confidence in yourself.
For those who keep on trying their best, even in the face of adversity, it’s the belief in their capabilities that spurs them on.
Often, people who are happy to settle for average don’t have enough faith in themselves that they are capable of so much more.
10) They’re competitive
Sometimes they feel that competitive spark with their peers or colleagues. But sometimes it’s merely with themselves.
Either way, they like the game of striving for more.
They can find satisfaction in trying, just as much as in winning.
Being competitive doesn’t have to make you cutthroat and ruthless. It can be used to help spur you on.
Often it makes you want to push yourself that little bit further.
11) They’re self-motivated
I’ve lost track of all the things I’ve wanted to do in life, or told myself that I will “one day”.
I still haven’t gotten around to writing my book, learning another language fluently, or learning to play piano.
It’s far easier to pour a glass of wine at the end of the day and turn on Netflix.
Dreams and goals are great, but not if we cannot be bothered to do them.
Finding that energy and inspiration to rise above isn’t easy. People who don’t accept mediocrity are self-starters who find enthusiasm from within.
12) They’re conscientious
The reasons that they can find the drive to push themselves rests on the next thing on our list:
They give a damn.
They genuinely care about their own success but also about the impact that we can all make in this world.
That’s a pretty wonderful thing. If we all did our bit, the planet would be a better place.
Rather than feel apathetic about the difference that just one person can make, they roll up their sleeves.
They can be diligent and dedicated in their approach. They are prepared to work hard for what they want.
13) They are action orientated
Some of us just like to make plans and talk.
But sadly, when it comes to taking all-important action, that’s where they fall short.
They procrastinate or get held back by the overwhelm they feel from the task at hand.
There’s no way around it, we have to act if we want to achieve anything in life.
That means being prepared for trial and error.
It usually demands of us that we take steps before we feel ready.
That means putting fear aside.
14) They are courageous
Deciding to grab life with both hands takes bravery.
No one escapes fear. It has the potential to hold us all back.
If anyone says they never feel scared, they’re either arrogant or fool-hardy. Because it’s a perfectly natural emotion that is designed to keep us safe.
But it can also keep us in our comfort zone when we don’t know how to challenge and push those inhibitions we may have.
Those who cannot accept mediocrity are bold because they know they need a warrior spirit if they are to carve out success.
15) They are independent and forge their own path
You can’t get caught up in what everyone else thinks.
Otherwise, you will always be distracted from your own journey.
Instead, it’s important to keep your eyes on your own prize.
That means an independent spirit who isn’t prepared to blindly follow the crowd.
They’re not afraid to listen to their inner wisdom to guide them.
16) They are patient in staying the course
It’s one of the more humble traits on our list but one of the most important ones too.
Because frustration leads us to give up when the going gets tough.
But it’s patience that allows us to find the resilience and determination we need to keep on.
When lesser people throw in the towel and exclaim that “it will have to do”, those who refuse to accept mediocrity fall back on their patience.
They know that anything worthwhile will take time and effort.
I would never advocate for perfectionism. It sets unrealistic standards rather than high ones.
Sometimes we will do our very best, and it wasn’t quite good enough.
We have to cut ourselves some slack. Not accepting mediocrity doesn’t mean beating yourself up for anything less than flawless.
What’s most important is that we try.
In the words of Frank Sonnenberg:
“It doesn’t cost more to strive for excellence, but if you settle for mediocrity, it’ll cost you dearly.”