Guest blog courtesy of Joanne Dowds MISCP
Barry’s post on accepting mediocrity annoyed the hell out of me. Firstly can I just for the record state that his sub 40min 10k time is far from mediocre. However I know he is unhappy with his failure to shave further time of it. There is a difference in asking ‘how can I explain being unhappy with stagnant performance’ versus ‘how can I justify failure to improve despite my best available efforts’. The key words there are available effort, life gets busy, there are numerous competing prioritises, but accepting the you have a limited amount of time and energy to divide out into a busy life is different to describing any part of it as mediocre. Mediocre means ordinary, average, not very good. I struggle with several parts of using this word. Words are important. Actions are explained in words, others understand your thoughts and intentions from words. Saying that you are accepting mediocre is acknowledging that given more effort that you would be much better a.k.a. you currently can not be arsed to commit more time and/or effort. There is a difference between this and saying other things are more important. Prioritising work, family, donut time, whatever is truly important to you above exercise is what makes you a well-rounded individual. This is life, other things can be more important than sporting performance. Mediocre-It is so negative in tone, so soul suckingly safe, life lived within comfort zones. Tone is important when setting goals, rephrasing with a positive slant will make it much more likely that you will be successful. Trying your best with all that you have to offer at that moment in time is all you can do. When you have more time and or energy you can achieve more. That not mediocre, that’s life.
Back to the definition, average, ordinary, it makes the hackles on the back of my neck stand up, what part of anyone is average or ordinary. It is promoting the concept of comparing our numbers to others, that we can measure our value or worth in a few stats. If we go with this definition I am (currently) a below average gym attender; most days of the week yoga/Pilates class attender; above average height (5’8); in the top 4% of physically active from my tracker data base; average dress size, though today it feels a bit snug, I blame the donut time I mentioned earlier; I work 40-45 hours most week, more than some, less than some- what part of this is mediocre/ordinary/not very good? It is just the sum of all the difference aspects of my life brought down to a binary system. ‘Lies, lies and damn statistics’. Read then how you will, they are just numbers, they have the power you give them.
Average, in the bland mix of all the individual is lost. The state of flow or mindfulness that we should strive for when exercising, when tasks appear seamless, when we are lost in the doing. It isn’t generated by comparing what we are achieving to someone else. Comparison is the thief of joy, comparing performance is only valuable if it is to your own previous or future performance. Analysing what went well and what could be improved are where gains are made, not accepting that there is no room to improve because it too hard and most people will lie in the average anyways-B*LLSHIT!
There are lots of things that I am not good, but it is because I have never put the effort into getting better. Other things, more important to me, occupied my time and energy. There is a difference. The grass is greener where you water it. (how many trite saying can you get in a 500 word blog!)
So I have many arguments with this concept of accepting mediocre but I will leave you with a little pep talk. It may mean nothing to you but it is unchanging and at some stage in the future you may find a time when you need it. It will still be true.
‘I believe in you, I can see your potential, it is infinite. You are only limited by your own thinking. You can achieve whatever you put your mind too. Hard work will get you closer to where you want to go than accepting that you are average. Be the outlier, aim higher.’
But then I am a Belieber!