Being a Slave to Mediocrity

by Alexander Heyne · 6 comments

“The brick walls are there for a reason… The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough. They’re there to stop the other people.”

-Randy Pausch

Greatness is Inherently Threatening to the Average Joe

There’s something pretty interesting that I noticed the other day — that 99% of of people, the average joes, tend to clam up and get defensive when you indirectly force them to question they way they’ve been thinking.  Let me give you some classic examples:

The Dieter:

Upon witnessing that a friend is not eating dessert, the following conversation typically ensues:

Average Joe: “Whoa Sarah no brownies for you tonight? What are you watching your girlish figure or somethin’?”

Dieter: ” Yeah, I gotta get my weight down. I’ve been trying for a while and I’m finally making some leeway.  I’ll stick to the strawberries.”

Average Joe: ” Oh come on, just take a little bite.”

Dieter: “I’m quite alright, thanks.”

Average Joe: [Mocking dieter] “Sarah over here is being a party pooper and boring today.  But I love brownies, gimme some!”

Secret emotions of the Average Joe: Envy, hatred. “I wish I could have the same self-control.”

The Dreamer


Upon engaging in conversation about a recent passion or dream that the dreamer has, a conversation with the Average Joe will typically go like this:

Extreme Dreamer: “So, I decided I’m going to do a world trip.  All 7 continents.  I’m gonna travel as long as my money lasts me, and once It runs out I’ll get a job on the road. I’m tired of my job and I want a fresh change of things.”

Extremely Average Joe: “Hah, and I’m buying a Lamborghini and retiring in Hawaii at 31 with my trophy wife.  So what movie did you see that in?  Who’s paying for the trip?  You’re going alone?  Didn’t you hear it’s dangerous in          < insert extremely safe country >? Aren’t you worried about getting some freaky disease like Ebola? Or what about all those car bombings, shootings, chemical spills, health scares, zombie invasions, freak unicorn attacks and student-run bake sales?  You should probably stay at home, it’s safer.”

Secret emotions of the extremely Average Joe: “Damn I wish I could do that.  I wonder if she/he’ll go through with it.. I hope not.  So I can say I told ya so.”

Why Are Average Joes so Average?

There are a couple reasons why people tend to react to anything different with such hostility:

  1. Fear of the Unknown

    Fear of the Unknown

  2. They feel like they have to question deeply seated assumptions or previously held beliefs
  3. They feel threatened (because of #2)
  4. Cultural Inoculation
Downers will try to prevent you from getting what you want to achieve because they are  envious and afraid that you may get an opportunity they never had.  
Learn to spot genuine-in-the-interests-of-your-well-being advice vs. pure envy.  Friends and family are not always your best advisors.  

Avoiding the Fetters While Accomplishing Miracles

A great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude.”

-Ralph Waldo Emerson

  1. Challenge Conventional Wisdom by walking your talk, since the motto tends to be “do as I say, not as I do.” (Who the hell came up with that anyway?)
  2. Never assume because you haven’t done something before, or nobody you known has done something like it before, that you can’t do it
  3. The real world is full of downers who want to live their dreams as badly as you do, but are chained by their minds and how they’ve been inoculated by society.  Don’t get offended when they criticize or doubt you, and don’t get angry when they call you a “fool” or “dreamer.”  Pity them, because they are giving up everything to live someone else’s dream.  They are enslaved.

The Walk-Your-Talk Part

Here are my take home points:

The majority of people will always try to bring you down.  Don’t hate them, don’t be angry at them, just feel sorry for them.  They are envious and in the back of their heads are also thinking ” Gee, I wonder if I could…. < get the hell out of this place >”

Remember the concentric ripples in the pond you produce by walking your talk.  All things are related and influence each other immensely and subtly beyond our perception.

Don’t be a mediocre mind that is a parasite and dead weight to others around you.  If your kids or friends are big dreamers, put your feet up on the counter with a coffee and talk some time.  Almost everyone has an obvious childhood dream, and  almost everyone has been taught to keep quiet about such “childish things.”

Above All

Don’t let others violate the sanctity of your own mind.  It’s a sneaky little virus that creeps into the minds of almost everyone, until one day you find yourself as the debbie downer of the group telling people to “be realistic” and “keep dreaming.”

It is no coincidence that dreamers inspire people to push themselves and others further, while the other 99% of humanity pull people down and give them reasons to be afraid or doubt themselves.  These two mindsets are almost in direct contrast with one another.

Think about that.

Mediocrity is an excuse to be a coward because you don’t have the balls to go for what you really want.

Keep your head in the clouds, but your feet on the ground.

“The future belongs to those who believe in their dreams.”

-Eleanor Roosevelt

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Alex Berman June 23, 2013 at 10:51 pm

I’ve haven’t done one cool thing that wasn’t hated on by 99% of the people I talked to before I tried it. Sad thing is, they’re usually the same people who end up reading and really liking what I come up with.

Reply

Alexander Heyne June 25, 2013 at 5:16 pm

Alex – Haha yeah that’s the complete irony of it all. The exact reason why I don’t talk with most of the people that I used to. If they aren’t encouraging you to go on an adventure and do something new, I usually slowly stop hanging out with them.

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Ly August 26, 2013 at 6:03 am

But how can you deal if you are the dreamer and at the same time, the downer?

Like, I’m in a phase of life where all I can do is dream big dreams while I study college (which is still not a clear path, but this is another story).

And because my future is still on hold, and is not really clear whether I can reach it, I become the downer of my own self thinking I may not achieve all these big dreams I’ve always had.

Yes, there are people out there who may throw a few encouragiing words, but it may not always seem enough if you can’t see your path clearly. :/

Reply

Alexander Heyne August 26, 2013 at 10:36 am

Hi Ly,

If you’re in college, my advice is to just stay focused in the present and finish it :D. Once it’s out of your hair, you’ll have a lot more freedom to do what you want.

Your path right now is to graduate – and that’s it. Don’t let the vision of the next 10 years preventing you from hustling through the next year.

– Alex

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