It’s their job.
The universe will unravel from its delicate weave if the gate-keepers disappear.
Look, I’m just here to shoot straight with you.
You and I are where we are because of who we are; of all we are and what we aren’t.
Gate-keepers aren’t haters.
Gate-keepers just see things in us that we choose to ignore.
Apologies to all the self-help evangelists and polished-toothed motivational speakers but this is as good as it gets, for most of us.
Most of us have never had anyone honest enough to look us in the eye and say “this is your strong skill and, at its peak, it’s ‘meets standards’.”
There. I said it.
Feel better? Can we all get back to work now?
The first time I posited my mediocrity theory a lot of people thought I was promoting laziness.
Hey, this isn’t a license to quit. I am not anti-ambition.
I am anti-unrealistic goals.
A wise man once said we all rise to our own level of incompetence.
Let that sink in.
What sounds like a snarky insult is actually quite genius.
Competency gives us buoyancy.
You only float as high as your compentency compensates for your mass.
I’ve got a lot of mass.
I think too much and act too little. I’m inconsistent and often insecure.
When your positives don’t outnumber your negatives, your bubble doesn’t float at the surface.
A great deal of my disappointment in myself is that I kept imagining myself as “that guy”.
But I never settled the matter that my particular weaknesses or shortcomings might never be more than managed.
Worse, I never settled the matter that my best often falls gently into the graph bubble titled “median”.
But I want to be “that guy”. The go-to guy. The face people see when a problem needs a solver. The name that fills the table conversation when a new member is needed for the team.
I’m never going to be “that guy”
I go to movies so I can imagine I’m “that guy”.
But I’m not “that guy”.
I’m not even the wing man for “that guy”.
I’m the movie extra guy, late for work, waiting in line for a tall coffee for 25 minutes who gets cut off by “that guy” cutting in line, grabbing what’s hot behind the counter, tossing a 10-spot on his way out the door to dodge bullets, flip the switch, save the world and kiss the girl.
“That guy” is so misunderstood. His life is hard. Saving the world when no one knows the world is in danger is the worst kind of stress.
I’m not up for that job.
Frankly, I wouldn’t want that job.
Leave that job for “that guy”.
Making peace with mediocrity is about making peace with yourself.
It’s meeting with the face in the mirror each morning and believing this face has a purpose.
The nameless ones, faceless under hard hats or combat helmets or the glow of a monitor screen prove that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
Skyscrapers stand by rivets from unheralded hands.
Look out your window.
Remember that you are standing on the successes of mediocre men and women.
You are held up high and see farther because someone showed up to make the mundane and routine happen.
What happens to “that guy” when the world is safe and the girl goes back to her day job?
I wonder if he feels lost and without purpose in between global disasters?
Does he feel the need to create crisis just to believe he has purpose?
I wonder if he wishes he had a simple job, stable and predictable, to go to.
I wonder if he knows how good it feels to know when your work day will end and who is waiting there to meet you.
If you see the gate-keepers, thank them, for me, that they kept me out of places I had no business being; and out of business I had no place in.
My tall coffee is up.
Maybe my barista wishes she was crunching numbers in a Fortune 500 instead of crushing beans for me.
But how would I function if my barista wasn’t there, being the best at being an average person?
God who made me what am I, and all that I am not,
May I be the best at being common for the common good.
Help me to make peace with my mediocrity for, by it and through it, You love and benefit my neighbor.