Michael Bagnall

Developer / Blogger

Michael Bagnall

Michael Bagnall

Developer / Blogger

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Comfortably Mediocre: Why Is Excellence So Uncomfortable?

Michael Bagnall - 10/13/2016

A few weeks ago I was driving in Maryland and came across a freshly pave section of roadway. It was smooth, quiet, and fast. It was an amazing contrast to the bumps and grinds of the previous 5 miles. The problem? The lines in the road. I have never seen a worse set of divider lines painted on a road. What had been a job well done by a lot of people was quickly reduced to confusion, danger and even laughter by someone who could not move a paint machine in a straight line.

Mediocrity is a learned behavior. It’s not something we were born with. It’s not some rare disease. It is a pattern of behavior caused through inherent comfort.

Let that sink in.

How comfortable are you? What do you do in order to maintain whatever comfort you have? Do you take risks? 

I don’t think I’ve been in a sales presentation where we promised a mediocre product made by mediocre talent with mediocre materials more or less on time. That’s not how we’re wired. We want to be the best, the fastest and the most reliable. We want to go to the moon and back, we want to raise your expectations. So then what happened?

Did you lose your edge? Was it “good enough”?

At one point in my career I found myself saying never let perfection be the enemy of good – and I am here to tell you that I have never been more wrong in my life. You should always strive for perfection. Not because it is difficult to do but because it is impossible to do… and you will learn more in your efforts than you will ever realize.

But we tend to get sucker punched by the “just get it done” crowd. Like somehow completing a bad product is better than delaying an exceptional one. Sure we all have dates and deadlines – but that should not prevent us from being brave and bold. 

So what will you do? Will you follow along the 85% of people to whom mediocre is good enough? Or will you push beyond and possibly inspire greatness.

Because greatness comes with a price. And that price is time it can be friends and it can be money. But moments of greatness are what make all the failures and moments of mediocrity endurable.