Raising the bar and avoiding mediocrity
One of my favorite things to do each week is attending some community social functions. Just a coffee hour where members of the community will take turns volunteering each week to provide the refreshments and snacks for others who come out to join everyone. The turnout is usually very good and the conversations and time together is always worth the hour.
This past week I overheard a comment being made, and it was the second time in a couple of months that I heard the same comment so it caught my attention. I heard one person say to the woman providing the baked goods and refreshments that she shouldn’t be doing so good of a job at baking such delicious food, because now everyone will be expected to do the same. Most people either bring in bagels, donuts, and other convenient store-bought refreshments. Now don’t get me wrong, I always enjoy those too, maybe a little too much. I just found it a little off-putting to discourage someone from reaching higher and delivering more than expected. Especially since it was on her own dime and time that she did the baking.
She was basically asked to lower the bar.
My whole career has been around sales, sales management, leadership, and entrepreneurism. Either in a direct sales role, sales management position, leader, trainer, or coach. So, coming off the heels of the social meeting and speaking with some sales folks last week, I was once again caught off guard by a statement I heard one sales person say to another, “Dude, you have to slow down, you are killing it but you are making the rest of us look bad.” This is a management issue and cultural issue that is being addressed, it just spoke volumes to me about the acceptance of mediocrity.
He too was asked to lower the bar.
We live in a world of incredibly talented and gifted people. Individuals who are blessed with a tireless work ethic and have developed skills that bring benefit and joy to many people. And yet, on the other side, we also live in a world where mediocrity almost seems like an accepted norm. And whenever I observe such behavior or attitudes, especially when there is so much obvious talent and potential, I am reminded of the statement, “Talent without effort breeds mediocrity.”
Are you okay with lowering the bar for yourself?
The best way to elevate performance is too set goals for ourselves. Set goals that are in alignment with what we want to be, who we want to be, and where we want to go in life. Set goals that are in alignment with our dreams. And then we need to establish mini stretch goals that will help to keep us on track and to continuously raise the bar for ourselves. We need to do this regardless of living in a society or even with some people around us who may like the bar where it is set right now. And as we see, some even prefer to lower the bar.
It’s not just in volunteer work or in a selling career, we see it in all walks of life. We see it in students, athletes, artists, and professionals at every level. Some are just brilliant and still work so hard for themselves and for the good of others. We even see those who may lack the skills or talent but will outwork everyone around them. These are the people who continually raise the bar for themselves and who never accept mediocrity. These people inspire me the most.
So how about you? Is there a bar that needs to be lifted in your own life? Can you help someone else raise the bar just a little higher so they too can achieve their goals and realize their dreams? I would love to hear all about your own elevated performance stories at firstname.lastname@example.org and when we can raise the bar and avoid mediocrity, it really will be a better than good week.
Michael Norton is a former resident of Edwards CO, the past President of the Zig Ziglar Corporation, Strategic Consultant, Business and Personal Coach.