There is a 10-letter word that is as bad as any four letter when it comes to believing in yourself.
That word is Mediocrity.
The tendency to label ourselves and compare our accomplishments to other people, which causes the belief that we are mediocre. Case in point: I am working my buns off (literally, much to Mike Honcho’s disappointment) to run a half marathon at the end of August. As an aside, in case some of you may not know, a half marathon is 13.1 miles. Not a 5k, and thus, not 3.1 miles long. I’ll write more on that story later.
Back to mediocrity. I was feeling proud of myself for having this goal and for actually sticking to that goal despite how much I love to hate running. I mentioned my race to some ladies from church, and now they like to ask how my training is coming. I always say that it’s going great, I’m crazy, you’re crazy, we’re all crazy for even allowing the word marathon in our vocabularies. Oh and then how we laugh and laugh!
The other day, I was with one of my biggest supporting questioners, who happened to have her nephew with her. Before I knew it, he had his biggest supporting questioners hovering around asking him how his training was going. He responded with an emphatic, “Great! I’m up to forty miles!” FORTY MILES?! What the heck kind of marathon is he running? Come to find out, he’s training for a presumably illegal 100 mile warrior, blood, and blister marathon. ONE HUNDRED MILES?!
Enter mediocrity! 13 miles is barely a sneeze when put up against 100 miles. Other examples?
I have three kids. My mother in-law has 13 kids. Motherhood mediocrity!
I love to ride horses. I doggedly chased my horsey dreams. Yet, I never won a buckle, nor do I run my own horse facility in my adult age. I don’t even have a horse right now. Mediocrity!!
I use ground beef in the majority of my dinner recipes. Mediocrity!!!
I could go on and on, and I’m sure you could chime in heartily with your own tales of mediocre woes. But here’s the thing. There’s no such thing as mediocrity. Especially when you are doing the best darn job you can do.
Yes, I may buy a lot of ground beef and not enough filet mignon but I don’t often have to figure out which Tupperware container I should put my leftovers in because there are no leftovers! I may not have a shadow case a mile high and a mile wide, filled with buckles, trophies and ribbons, but I have a rich and enormously rewarding skill set from the horse experience I do have. I may not be able to run 100 miles (nor will I probably ever) but I can currently run 11. And that is something to be proud of.
We set our own parameters. We are in charge of how high we set our sights. If we are reaching further and not settling for remaining stagnant, we are not mediocre.
It reminds me of a time that Mike Honcho and I were driving up I-90 having one of those conversations where we were both extraordinarily stressed out about current life situations, upcoming life situations, and experiencing feelings of being very out of control. I remember so clearly Mike Honcho expressing to me the fear of settling into mediocrity in his career and as a person. Did he want to continue down the path we were headed? Was making the decision to stay at his current job, and the ensuing life we would live be settling? He recounted a conversation he’d had with his grandpa and how the take-away from that conversation was that Grandpa thought there was nothing wrong with the prospects before us. But Mike Honcho knew that for him, personally, it would not be fulfilling. It would not be a final answer. It would be a conscious choice to peg himself into his own self-defined mediocrity. The lesson and takeaway pearl? Everyone, everywhere has a different perception of what defines themselves. It is up to us to find our definition, have the confidence to believe that definition, then continually challenge ourselves in our own unique way.
Mike Honcho chose to leave that path he was on, as now we have stressful conversations driving along I-20, as we continue to face new challenges.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go start dinner. Tonight we’re having ground beef in it’s most delicious form—non-mediocre meatloaf.