You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Escaping the Vortex of Mediocrity

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 19/10/2015 Jodi Weiss
ICEBERG © Michael Leggero via Getty Images ICEBERG

There's a joke amongst some of my ultra-running friends when we are in the midst of a 100-mile race and things are going downhill: to at all costs, avoid the vortex of mediocrity. To keep moving, and get over the pain. To remember that no matter how bad it feels at the moment, days and weeks from now what will matter to us most was that we pushed through and finished. When you are at your weakest, say 80 or so miles into a 100-mile endeavor, it is easy to deceive yourself, to let the pain overtake you, to feel sorry for yourself, but in changing the channel, in finding your internal strength, in pushing forward and persevering, there is something that you gain. It is a hard earned self-discovery that you are so much stronger than you had ever imagined. I am a believer that our toughest experiences are the ones that often lead us towards growth and positive change.
Mediocrity at Work
Based on the number of people I speak to about careers each week and their motivations for exploring new career opportunities, it's interesting how many professionals fall into the vortex of mediocrity when it comes to the world of work. The vortex of mediocrity seems to be an epidemic for a variety of reasons: professionals get so caught up in the day to day that they lack time and energy to strategize; they report in to people who manage processes efficiently, but are in no way mentors or people they are going to learn and grow from. Sometimes it is about working for corporations that are all about revenue, and so professionals get caught up in a company's revenue goals, misplacing their own passions and motivations in the midst.
Define and Know What Matters to You
I believe that the first step to avoiding the vortex of mediocrity is to know what matters to you. To define what you seek in the next few years. Then break it down to the year ahead. What do you wish to achieve this week? How do you want to spend your days? Then you have to ask yourself if what you are doing at present meshes with what you aspire to. If it does, then you are on the right path. If it doesn't, then will it get you there eventually? Is there a succession plan to achieve your goal? Do your leaders know what you seek? If you are not sure, it may be time to ask. Often, we sit idle believing that others can read our minds, but likely, that is not the case. And of course if upon asking yourself these questions it is clear that what you seek is not what you are set up to achieve at your present organization, then it may be time to consider your options. To define your next steps and start your upward and onward journey. Change is never easy, but it is almost always necessary for growth.
How to Escape the Vortex of Mediocrity at Work

  • Know what you want for both the short term (12 months) and the long term (3-5 years), and create a working route to get you there.
  • Always connect to borrow the words of EM Forester - with your colleagues, your supervisors, your clients, your team. Seek mentors both internal and external to your work environment. Form relationships with professionals who can be both objective and subjective to your career goals.
  • Transparency -- honesty is always best. If you have to hide something from a colleague, supervisor, or direct report, it's worth examining why. Do you want to work in an environment that breeds cliques and in which information is treated as top secret? Or do you want to work in an open environment that promotes clear communication?
  • Don't blame anyone. Generally, everyone is doing the best that he or she can. Remember that leadership, peers, colleagues and the like, are free to do what they want, although you may not believe in or understand what they are doing. Ask questions. Gather the facts. Listen. Consider. Don't be quick to judge.
  • Work hard and be sure you are building the brand of you in all that you do. If there's no one there to champion you, share your results in a way that is inclusive versus disruptive. Everything counts when you are building your own personal brand.
  • Inspire trust and greatness in others -- do what you say and say what you do. Show gratitude when it is due. Everyone appreciates recognition for a job well done. True leaders are never stingy in raising others up with them.
  • Stay passionate -- remember what led you to your present career and organization. Whether it was the strategic plan, the work itself, the team. Rate your passion on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the highest. Rank your passion often, and if it declines, be sure to examine why. Is it something within you that has shifted, or something within the organization that no longer aligns with your values and aspirations?
  • Don't let anger influence your decisions. Think things through. Give anger time to pass. There should be no room for anger in the world of work. If something is making you angry, ask yourself what it is about. Typically, it is our ego which makes us angry when it comes to work.
  • Be kind. To yourself and to others. If you find yourself in a complaining spiral, shut it down, immediately! Seek solutions rather than wasting your time griping. Choose to either speak your peace or let it go. Kindness in the world of work, as in your life, is often contagious and can be the antidote to a toxic work environment and a miserable you.

We get comfortable sometimes. It is easier to stay than go, even when and if we are clear that the next chapter of our lives is calling us forward. Comfort matters, as does a pay check to exist in this world, but so does passion, drive, and respect. The value you place on yourself is often the value others will give to you. Mediocre leadership leads to versions of ourselves that are less than stellar. Mediocre performance leads to self-doubt and lack of motivation. We are all always capable of more. Success in the world of work is composed of the little things that we accomplish each day, the dreams we aspire to, the hurdles we overcome, and what we learn from the hurdles that overcome us. Strategy, focus, determination, and perseverance are what get you from point A to point B in a long race, and perhaps, in life, too.

More from Huffington Post

The Huffington Post
The Huffington Post
image beaconimage beaconimage beacon