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Do you ever go through a season where everything you are hearing seems to be hard on you? This season is like that for me. I have been sitting in monthly leadership classes this year. As a result of this commitment; I have had to attend one face to face lesson each month and read a number of books; which must be summarised or analysed and submitted in time.

One of the phrases that bothered me during these sessions was the talk on MEDIOCRITY given by the teacher for the day; Ps. Moses Mukiisa. Did you know that excellent workers and mediocre workers go through the same amount of traffic each day? It is possible that both workers woke up at the same time; dropped of children to school and were in offices by 7:00am. While one worker X is determined to carry out their work with a spirit of excellence; another worker Y will give mediocre service every day for the rest of the year and sometimes for the rest of their lives. At the end of the day; both workers will get into their cars or jump into a matatu and work their way through traffic jam; pick up their kids or catch up with friends, and go home or take a trip to their favourite unwinding spot; ready to begin the cycle all over again the next day.

I began to reflect and realised that I although I had tried to work with excellence many times; there were seasons where I had allowed myself to be mediocre. I began thinking about some of reasons which were responsible for excellent output or mediocrity in my own life and in the lives of others, especially when it came to service delivery. Why was mediocrity such a crowd puller? Why was I willing to believe the lie that an investment in mediocrity would give me a wonderful reward? I came up with 7 top reasons for mediocrity based on my own observations.

  1. Upbringing: Mediocrity has been passed on from one generation to another. Children who have parents, education institutions or communities which model mediocrity are more likely to carry on with the spirit of mediocrity, which was modelled for them; especially if they are not exposed to an alternative environment.
  2. Leadership: A mediocre leader will have mediocre employees or staff and should not expect miracles if their own lives are in shambles. For example; a leader who comes late to work each day; takes long breaks and leaves before the end of the day; should not be surprised when the staff do the same.
  3. Warped Reward System: Mediocrity will thrive where there are no rewards for excellence. Sometimes, a worker will try to be excellent in an environment where excellence is not appreciated. What comes to mind is the whistle blower who will report corrupt management only to be rewarded with a demotion or re-deployment in another section or even different institution in order to keep them quiet. The rest of the staff will not try to measure up.
  4. Laziness: I hate to admit it; but the pursuit of excellence is just too time consuming. It does not come cheap! Mediocrity on the other hand convinces us that we can just get by. If I were to use the illustration of mining; the most precious minerals are rarely found on the surface. They need to be dug up. This takes time and energy. It takes effort to do the right things consistently over time.
  5. Absence of Penalties: I know this may sound harsh but believe that MEDIOCRITY will thrive in an environment  of  limited reproof. My daughters have taught me this lesson. They are never in a hurry to go to school; except when they are having a specific fun:) event. We will be in time for a school trip, concert, sports and fun day; but rarely for a regular school day (I take the blame. I usually run out of the house last. I also have a tendency of wearing my eyebrows on the way). They complain mildly when we are late; but are never as panicked as I was when I was late for school. I would wake up on time; have breakfast and push my siblings to do the same; then run ahead of them because of the fear of the reprisals that awaited me whenever I was late. I still have fresh memories of the beatings that I received for late coming. They kept me in check.
  6. Inadequate Skill Level: Competence will not come overnight. Skills are required. Skill acquisition is critical. Michelangelo was one of the greatest sculptors of the Italian Renaissance and one of its greatest painters and architects. He developed his skill set over time and was tutored by a number of great sculptors.
  7. Lack or Loss of Passion: Sometimes, mediocrity occurs in areas where passion is lacking or where passion has waned. Workers may be involved in vocations; that they are not passionate about. Passion is what enables one to go the extra mile. If you are not executing your work with excellence; take a break and check your Passionometor!

Today; I am trying to deliver on what I promised; cutting back on the number of excuses on my tongue and rebuking myself ahead of time when I do not measure up. Mediocrity has no benefits for life. Let us choose excellence daily in everything we do. Small incremental changes in the direction of excellence over time, will give us better returns on our investment; whatever that may be.

Do you know of any other reasons for Mediocrity and lessons on how best it can be controlled and eradicated? I believe there are many more reasons; I would love to hear from you.

photography of railway


  1. That is s fresh perspective Pamela. Hadn’t seen it that way. Thank you.

    This morning was also thinking that we relax standards when a family is involved. People who provide services, sometimes give family less attention or quality of products. They do things with family that they would not do with their clients.


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