Swimming in a sea of mediocrity

I wish it were otherwise, but why is it we increasingly default to mediocrity?

Practically everywhere you look, you sense a resigned sense of “Ho Hum, it’s good enough”.

It’s not just that we don’t like to complain. No, we have allowed standards to slip to the point where even a simple “thank you for your custom” seems exceptional.

I have lamented before the fact that people don’t care enough. In most cases, and it’s a sad indictment of our culture, things only happen (to our satisfaction) when we complain.

It might be stating the obvious, but every business is a reflection of the people who work for or own it. If the business is sloppy, dirty or tired then that merely reflects the lack of aspiration that lies within. The thing is, as much as I love the social media paradigm, I often wonder if that doesn’t mask a multitude of sins – namely the product or service is no better than average. I recognise in a global market place, it’s hard, sometimes, to stand out – but, in truth, if you offered the World’s best service or product, would you really need to embark on a lavish programme of content creation and syndication? Of course, business is cyclical and there is every chance that unless you are reminded every so often about your experience, you are just as likely to forget. But I don’t think so.

To give you a vivid example of a business that stopped shooting for the stars, consider Parker Pens. The Parker 51 is still one of my favourite pens. But where are they now? Yes, the market for writing instruments has declined but why is it that Mont Blanc has stolen their thunder, and more than that, created a prestige brand outwith pens? It all started when Parker stopped making great pens, and decided to produce something that was worse than average.

I wish I were more sanguine about the situation, but it infuriates me how few people care. It might sound petty, but this whole culture of “How are you today?” or “Would you like to buy a [name]?” is, surely, the apogee of mediocrity. It’s as if these pithy, nonsense lines are being proffered to make up for the otherwise inferior service, dirty interior and people who don’t (genuinely) care about the business.

It would be nice to report that someone has taken a stand against mediocrity (surely we don’t have to rely on Jamie for everything?), but I fear it’s just too unwieldy and banal to warrant a scintilla of attention. In any event, where would you start?

Education?

Healthcare?

The government?

Utility providers? (So much for privatisation.)

OK, forget the macro. Are you willing to challenge yourself to get better every single day? Not just to read a book, but to challenge the status quo and make excellence the benchmark in everything you do?

I hope you won’t think me a curmudgeon for raising this point. I’ve been around the track enough times to recognise when people are trying, and when they are going through the motions. I just think we deserve better. Mediocrity should not be considered normal, when it takes comparatively little effort to change things.


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