• James Walton

Strategic Mediocrity

Decide what you're not going to be good at.  Be strategically mediocre. Many of us carry around an expectation of ourselves as high-capacity leaders with the capability to be above-average in every aspect of life. But eventually we'll realize we aren't in the top 5% of every endeavor we could set our mind to, and guilt and frustration result. This is exhausting and unhealthy.  Instead, come to peace with your limitations. Decide that it's okay to not be great at every thing, and instead choose the areas of strength in which you can make a significant difference. Subsidize the rest somehow so they're not debilitating weaknesses, but don't let your lack define you.

  • In your business, your strategy is defined in large part by what you say no to. Being clear on what you won't do will free up resources to become excellent in another area.

  • In your relationships, your time is limited and you can't please everyone. It's okay to be a mediocre acquaintance to some if it means you can be an excellent spouse and parent to others.

  • In your habits, your skill set will naturally tend to cluster around particular themes. Learn to recognize areas that aren't in that zone, and be okay if you have to hire out help (or ask a friend). 

For me, I realized a while back that I'm not a "handy" guy. Most men I knew growing up could frame a wall, change the brakes on a truck, and field dress a moose all before lunch.  That wasn't me.  I can do the minimum to unclog a toilet or hang a mirror, but beyond that, I'm happy to call a buddy or write a check. I used to compare my myself to other guys who had these gifts and feel bad. Now, I give myself the freedom to be strategically mediocre in that area. Of course, this only works if you are actively progressing in an area of competence.  Strategic mediocrity needs to be balanced with intentional excellence, otherwise it's just laziness. What's an area you can make an intentional choice to step back from in order to be excellent in another?

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