Sunday, March 09, 2014
"Mediocrity is self-inflicted. Genius is self-bestowed."
Why would you settle for just good enough?
Sunday, March 9, 2014
Do you think you can attain your goals without exerting effort? Can you master any skill without practice? Will you settle for just doing enough to get by? Merely striving for the bare minimum is a formula for failure.
My eyes recently were drawn toward an essay positioned on a kitchen refrigerator. The paper had been written by a junior ARMY ROTC cadet whose dad holds the rank of army colonel. DuSchuyler Shuck wrote "Why good enough is the enemy of great." It reads:
"For as long as I have lived, my family has instilled in me the words "Practice is the number one path to success. I've always strove to do my best and try my hardest at everything I do, whether that is Scouts, school, music or baseball.
One of my favorite books is titled, "What It Takes To Be Number One," by Vince Lombardo Jr., the son of Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi. The theme of the book is that mediocrity will never get you anywhere in life. The only way to be successful in life is to work hard and become the best that you can be at what you are trying to achieve.
In another book, "Outliers" by Malcolm Gladwell, there is a section that my dad will never let me forget; The 10,000 hours of practice rule. The rules states that becoming the best of the best requires at least 10,000 hours of practice no matter what you're trying to become good at.
A fantastic example of this is the band the Beatles. In 1960, The Beatles were an unknown band from England. They were playing at dirty bars and clubs that nobody, including themselves, wanted to play. They were playing for up to eight hours a night, seven days a week, slowly becoming more experienced songwriters and musicians. As the Beatles honed their craft, they began writing better songs which got them more playing time at clubs. Everybody wanted a part of the Beatles!
By 1964 the Beatles had become an internationally known band, playing shows all over the world. In four years, The Beatles had played an unimaginable 1,200 shows together. If you calculate the amount of shows and hours put in every day in those four years, you get 9,600 hours! Today, the Beatles have been dubbed the best-selling band in history, selling more than a billion albums.
If the Beatles had settled on being mediocre and hadn't put forth practice time, music would be completely different. Many other famous individuals like Bill Gates and the famous chess player, Bobby Fischer, didn't want to settle and be average. They used the 10,000 hour rules, as well.
I once received a fortune cookie from a Chinese restaurant in New York. The fortune inside the cookie said, "Mediocrity is self-inflicted. Genius is self-bestowed." The fortune cookie is basically saying that everybody is born with mediocrity, or "good enough," but to become great and the best at what you want to achieve you have to practice and focus on it.
If you sit at home playing baseball video games expecting to make it and become a professional, you will never get any better at baseball. The only way to become better at baseball is to stay motivated, practice and put forth the extra work.
Imagine the world if leaders like the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela and Abraham Lincoln had stopped at good enough. The world would be a lot different. We may still have segregation and slavery.
Without the leadership of these and many great men, our world would be a world of mediocrity and indifference. Anybody can be good at something, but it takes a hard worker to be the best at something. Greatness changes the world. While good merely treads water.
Colossians 3:23 states "Whatever you do, do it with all your heart, as though working for the Lord, not for human masters." It's the prescription for greatness, indeed.