Effectively Mediocre

At The Rumpus, James Altucher has a non-mediocre piece about how to be effective as a mediocre person.

We can’t all be grand visionaries. We can’t all be Picassos. We want to make our business, make our art, sell it, make some money, raise a family, and try to be happy. My feeling, based on my own experience, is that aiming for grandiosity is the fastest route to failure. For every Mark Zuckerberg, there are 1000 Jack Zuckermans. Who is Jack Zuckerman? I have no idea. That’s my point. If you’re Jack Zuckerman and you’re reading this, I apologize. You aimed for the stars and missed. Your reentry into the atmosphere involved a broken heat shield, and you burned to a crisp by the time you hit the ocean. Now we have no idea who you are.

Among other things, mediocre people tend to procrastinate, which could be a sign of many things (“Maybe you need to brainstorm more to improve an idea. Maybe the idea is no good as is. Maybe you need to delegate. Maybe you need to learn more. Maybe you don’t enjoy what you are doing. Maybe you don’t like the client whose project you’re working on. Maybe you need to take a break.”) Altucher also has a great story about embarrassing himself in front of Tupac’s manager when trying to pitch him a website for the deceased rapper. (“Mediocre entrepreneurs fail a lot. So they get this incredible skill of getting really good at dealing with failure. This translates to monetary success.”)

Photo: Lotzman Katzman


3 Comments / Post A Comment

Yes! One of the things I hate most about American culture is the idea that everyone can or should be a superstar, and if they’re not trying to be then they’ve failed. Most people are just average — by definition. A society that only values extreme success is condemning most of its members to a sense of failure.

deepomega (#22)

@stuffisthings I actually disagree with this somewhat – there’s a strong culture of wanting to reward dudes who do a good job every day. That’s what that “God Made A Farmer” commercial was about, that’s why everyone wants to call themselves middle class, etc.

@deepomega Well, I think a lot of “dudes who do a good job every day” feel that they will someday be rewarded with major success, which is why they like to keep taxes on rich people low — just in case.

But generally I think this is more of an attitude among the (ACTUAL) middle class, especially when it comes to their children. Nobody earning more than 300% of the poverty level is telling their kids “just get a reasonable education so you can find a solid, steady job to support yourself and your family.” Or at least they weren’t before the recession hit…

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