Mediocrity: The Greatest Enemy of Success

Ask any entrepreneur what their biggest challenges are. I can guarantee that their answers will include finances, business partners, employees, and finding their niche.

But there’s one crafty challenge that no one seems to address; Mediocrity!

Compared to the other challenges we’ve mentioned, mediocrity is definitely the most dangerous. You might think I’m being dramatic, but the truth is that mediocrity has reached epidemic levels.

You order a pizza and find the toppings are poorly slapped on. You hire a cleaning service and return to find cobwebs in the corners. You buy a sweatshirt and witness the print fading after a few washes. You phone your internet or phone provider, and you’ll be on hold indefinitely listening to crappy music.


m&m slogan


All areas of society are being overrun with mediocrity, and we can no longer relegate this epidemic to the confines of a murky government building. As entrepreneurs and business owners, we are susceptible to mediocrity as well.


It’s a disease. Nobody thinks or feels or cares anymore; nobody gets excited or believes in anything except their own comfortable little God damn mediocrity. Richard Yates


Mediocre: of only ordinary or moderate quality; neither good nor bad; barely adequate.


Mediocrity means being satisfied with less than best.

The curse of mediocrity can easily be witnessed in the average man or woman who lives an uninspiring and unenthusiastic life. This type of person has no ambition or passion, and it reflects in the way they go about their work.

However, mediocrity can also be seen in the overambitious. When you are eager to attain success or wealth, you might overextend yourself and half-ass too many projects. The outcome is mediocre results in everything you do.

In business, mediocrity is often seen as the easier and safer method of creating and marketing goods and services. After all, if you’re just as average as 100 other companies, then you’ll never be in a position of risk or danger.


porsche slogan


Unfortunately, those who are mediocre feel the need to bring down those who aspire beyond average. It’s why you’ll find run-of-the-mill workers making snide remarks about those who are trying to push boundaries. If you’ve been in this position of hate, just remember that it’s your ambition and achievements that they are envious over.


Jealousy is the tribute mediocrity pays to genius. Fulton J. Sheen


And if you’ve fallen into the mediocrity trap, ask yourself this:
Why are you spending your time and energy being an ordinary and unexceptional entrepreneur? If it’s worth doing, then it’s worth doing well!


The Danger of Mediocrity

You might not fully realize the danger that mediocrity poses to your business venture.

First and foremost, mediocrity does not attract anyone. When you are mediocre, don’t expect to see a wave of customers buying your product or utilizing your services. And if you do get customers, don’t expect them to return. Mediocrity does not inspire loyalty.

Keep in mind that it is easier and cheaper to retain your customer base than to gain new customers. So your mediocrity is costing you time, energy, and money.

When we are too afraid to confront mediocrity, we allow it to fester. If you don’t confront mediocrity, it will become part of your company culture and eventually hinder your success. So if your supplier provides you with poor materials, don’t pat him on the back and then go and fix his mistake. Point it out and demand better materials.


nike slogan


Once we become complacent with mediocre results, we miss out on brilliance. It’s the same way that we make jokes about poor customer service. Now that we’ve accepted that customer service is going to be terrible, we don’t give businesses the incentive to provide stellar customer service.


Competition is always a good thing. It forces us to do our best. A monopoly renders people complacent and satisfied with mediocrity.- Nancy Pearcey


Getting Rid of Mediocrity

If you’ve just realized that there’s a mediocrity crisis in your own business, it’s time to make a change. Here are 4 ways you can replace mediocre with genius:


1. Raise your standards: We often lower our standards and make excuses for underperforming workers. Maybe your business partner flakes on important meetings, or your assistant hands in poorly done reports.

The only solution is to raise your standards, and make it clear that you expect a lot more. If you tolerate or even worse reward mediocrity, then you are preventing yourself, your workers, and your business from growing. After all, if mediocre results are fine by you, why should anyone strive for better?


I react very badly when mediocrity throws a tantrum of entitlement. Lee Siegel


2. Go the extra mile: A lot of the time, we are tempted to deliver exactly what we’ve been paid to do. But delivering 110% is the key to success.

It’s like going to a hotel and finding chocolate on your pillow, or receiving a product with beautiful packaging. When you do more than what your customer is expecting, you’ll gain their loyalty and stand out from the crowd.


disneyland slogan


3. Get rid of toxic people: Toxic people have the unique ability to spread their negativity with precision and efficiency. That is why you need to separate yourself from shallow, hopeless, draining, arrogant, unmotivated, defeated, and unambitious people.

If you hang around these people too long, then you’ll find no reason to turn away from mediocrity.


Some men are born mediocre, some men achieve mediocrity, and some men have mediocrity thrust upon them. Joseph Heller


4. Put your customer first: A lot of the time, entrepreneurs are under the perception that they know what the customer needs. This is arrogant, as only the customer can tell you what they need.

So put your ego aside and pay attention to them. Listen to their complaints, and track their buying habits. Learn about what they need by listening and watching, and then deliver on their needs. When you make your customer king, you can efficiently cater to them. This means that your focus is directed to a singular purpose, leaving no room for half-assing and mediocrity.


nokia slogan



“And I — my head oppressed by horror — said:
“Master, what is it that I hear? Who are
those people so defeated by their pain?”
And he to me: “This miserable way
is taken by the sorry souls of those
who lived without disgrace and without praise.
They now commingle with the coward angels,
the company of those who were not rebels
nor faithful to their God, but stood apart.
The heavens, that their beauty not be lessened,
have cast them out, nor will deep Hell receive them —
even the wicked cannot glory in them.”

Dante Alighieri, Inferno


Final Verdict

Do not contribute to mediocrity, and do not settle for it either.

Even if your industry is flooded with mediocre products and services, resist the temptation to become a part of that complacent culture. Stand out from the crowd with your attention to detail and decisive action, and watch as you gain customers who are loyal to your brand.

Customers will easily forget a mediocre product or service, but they will always remember an exceptional product or service.

If you found this helpful remember to share it, and drop me a comment telling me about your own experience with mediocrity. Also, don’t forget to sign up to the newsletter (on the sidebar) for firsthand updates on new blog posts.

I hope you have an inspiring week, and I’ll see you back here next Monday.


2 thoughts on “Mediocrity: The Greatest Enemy of Success

  1. Thanks for the wonderful post. I totally agree that mediocrity has seriously found its place in many organizations today most especially in cases where quality and effectiveness standards are compromised. For example, its evident when we watch how national purchasing and out sourcing organs sign off wrong batches of medicine for the national drug stores or even purchase machines that are I a Dangerous Mechanical Condition to be used in given sectors. The fact is that mediocrity has become a serious blocker to many individuals and organizations success.


    1. You’re welcome Mwebya. We definitely have those same problems in Kenya; often a combination of greed and laziness. Hopefully, most people will recognize that they can do better, so that we have a culture where quality and effectiveness is mandatory.


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