Most people will never avoid mediocrity.
It doesn’t take much to accomplish “decent” results.
Entering into the top 25% of your field actually isn’t that hard. Most people are content with “good enough,” and don’t try very hard to improve what already works. With a few small tweaks, you can actually make enormous progress.
But most people never get any better than that. Few people ever get past this “good-enough” mindset. Good-enough, is, well, good enough. No need to put in any more effort. “If it ain’t broke, don’t try to fix it,” right?
In short, most people settle for good instead of working to achieve greatness.
Jim Collins wrote in his book, Good to Great:
“Good is the enemy of great. And that is one of the key reasons why we have so little that becomes great. We don’t have great schools, principally because we have good schools. We don’t have great government, principally because we have good government. Few people attain great lives, in large part because it is just so easy to settle for a good life.”
Most people will only ever have a “good” life because they are not willing to commit to putting in the effort for a great one.
That’s fine — not everybody needs to work tirelessly for greatness.
But if you want big results…truly incredible results that will make you marvel at your life, you must move past this mindset.
No more “dabbling.”
No more screwing around.
You must choose to commit.
This is the only way to get the results you truly, deeply want.
“If you’re ‘interested’, you come up with stories, excuses, reasons, and circumstances about why you can’t or why you won’t. If you’re committed, those go out the window. You just do whatever it takes.” -John Assaraf
The Only Way to Become a Leading Man is to Treat Yourself Like One
When Arnold Schwarzenegger was just beginning his acting career, he received many offers for lesser roles — crude villains like Nazi officers, evil henchmen with no lines, and the like. All everyone saw was a foreigner with a thick accent and big muscles.
His agent begged him to take the roles. He refused.
Years after becoming the most famous leading man in Hollywood, he wrote:“The only way you become a leading man is to treat yourself like a leading man, and work your ass off.”
The more clear you are on your goals, the easier it is to say no to irrelevance.
Before Peter Dinklage joined the case of the globally popular show Game of Thrones, he refused to play leprechauns or elves — the only parts he was offered for someone his height. He held out and treated himself like a leading man.
If you want to be a leading man or woman, you have to treat yourself like one. Otherwise, no one will take you seriously.
If you do not predetermine what you will (and will not) do, you’ll always end up taking good-not-great opportunities.
When my wife and I moved to South Korea to teach English, I told myself I was going to use all my spare time to create my ideal life — running my own business as a writer.
When the wrong opportunities came knocking, it wasn’t hard to say no. In fact, it was a no-brainer. It didn’t matter how much I was being offered — to be a youth basketball coach, career coach, data analyst, church musician, or private tutor — these things weren’t going to help me reach my goal, so the answer was obvious.
I wanted to become a top-tier writer, so that’s how I treated myself. That’s how I saw myself.
After a year of treating myself like this, I had:
—A signed book deal by a renowned publishing company
—Multiple online courses making me thousands of dollars in passive income
—Become a top writer on Medium.com
—An email list of 20,000+ paying customers
It’s very hard to say no to an opportunity if you don’t know where you’re going.
But it’s extremely easy to say no if you know what you want.
“If the ladder is not leaning against the right wall, every step we take just gets us to the wrong place faster.” -Stephen Covey
If you want the lifestyle of a leading man or woman, you need to treat yourself like that (and work your ass off).
Otherwise, you’ll constantly be unsure and uncertain in your decision-making, often making choices that pull you farther and farther from your goal.
The higher the standards you set for yourself, the more likely you’ll finally land the leading role.
We are kept from our goal not by obstacles but by a clear path to a lesser goal.” -Robert Brault
Why It’s So Hard to Commit — But Even Harder Not To
“We all must suffer one of two pains: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret.” -Jim Rohn
It’s hard to commit. Really hard.
But the alternative — never committing — is even worse.
It’s exhausting to stew in mediocrity. Constantly wrestling with mental anguish, uncertainty, and apathy will drain the energy from anyone.
It takes monumental effort to get up out of bed every day, knowing your day is going to suck.
You’re spending energy anyway — why not spend your energy on upgrading and improving?
Why not focus your thoughts and efforts on making a better life?
I was so addicted to pornography that my therapist told me to go to a 12-step program for it.
I remember going to the first meeting in the back room of a crowded Denny’s. I hated it. I grudgingly half-assed my way through the first year, embarrassed and arrogant, never gaining any traction.
But I wanted to get married to my now wife, Kimi. I knew it was time to get serious. So I stopped fooling around and decided I would do whatever it took to kick my habit.
Committing was really hard. But now that I’ve had several years of sobriety, I can look back and see how insanely harder it was to stay in my bad behaviors.
I woke up every day hating myself. I couldn’t even look at my eyes in the mirror for more than a couple seconds without turning away in shame. I was always thinking ahead about how to get my fix. I couldn’t relate with people, because internally I was totally empty. That was my life, every day.
Committing was hard, yes.
But years of dabbling and never being willing to do whatever it took were infinitely harder.
It may seem unthinkable now to commit to whatever you aspire to do. But know this — your future self would probably look at your life right now and remember just how much harder it was back then.
Why Most People Will Never Avoid Mediocrity
Real, substantial change only comes in two ways:
Either you raise your standards high enough to inspire change,
Your pain becomes bad enough that you’re forced to change out of necessity.
The reason most people will never avoid mediocrity is because they never experience either option.
Most people never raise their standards to substantially high levels; on the other hand, these people work just hard enough to avoid experiencing real pain — the pain that would inspire change.
This is why I’m so glad I’ve had to struggle; I’m glad I had a speech impediment that got me bullied as a kid. I’m glad I had to go to therapy and counseling for my father issues. In a weird yet powerful way, I’m glad I languished as a mediocre writer for nearly 5 years before finally getting it right.
I’ve come to understand my struggle is what gives me fuel to become extraordinary.
Mark Manson wrote in The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck:
“The extent of the struggle determines the extent of the growth.”
So be glad that the pain is bad enough for you.
Because for many people, the pain is never bad enough to inspire change. The pain is never bad enough to make them raise their standards.
“People are always asking me about the secrets and tricks I use to get results. Sorry if this disappoints you: there are no secrets. There are no tricks. It’s simple. Ask yourself where you are now, and where you want to be instead.” -Tim Grover, personal trainer of Michael Jordan
If you want big — truly big results — you’re going to have to commit.
No more screwing around. No more half-assing or half-measures.
Otherwise, you’ll never avoid mediocrity.
5 years ago, I was an awful writer. I was addicted to pornography. I was broke, selfish, depressed, and hopeless.
I decided to commit. I went to counseling; I became a student of top writers; I decided it was time to stop screwing around with my finances.
In the past 6 months, I’ve gained over 20,000+ new email subscribers. I don’t look at porn anymore. My wife and I are 100% debt-free, free to travel the world as we please — our deepest dream.
I stopped dabbling so I could finally live the life I want.
You can, too — if you’re willing to fully commit.