Excellence vs. Mediocrity

By Chris Goethe

In the classic TV and movie situation comedy, Wayne’s World, every time one of Mike Myer’s partners on the screen said something that he totally loved and agreed with, he would look directly into the camera with a smile, give the “Thumbs Up” hand gesture and boldly proclaim, “Excellent!” Can you imagine how awkward it would have been if he had done the same gesture, looked into the camera with the same intensity and said, “Mediocre!”

In life and work, family and school, church and play, we get to make the same choices on the quality and quantity of effort we put into all of our tasks and projects. Do we seek for our homes to be safe happy places where all members thrive? Do we put in full days of work during the seasons of business that require maximum attention? Do we dedicate our full emotional energy and attention to the volunteer tasks that we take on in our community?

The word Excellent, as it is derived from the Latin wordExcellentem, actually means towering, prominent, distinguished, superior, or surpassing. What great adjectives to define our lives. Juxtaposed to that is the Latin derivative of the word Mediocre. Medius, meaning center or middle, and Ocris, meaning rugged mountain, combined, literally means to get stuck in the middle of a rugged mountain. What a terrible place to be.

It is said that excellence is not an act, but a habit. Here are three ways that you can begin to make excellence a habit in your life that transcends your old habits. 

  1. Align what you say with what you do. If you make a phone appointment to speak with a vendor, customer or friend, be on time. No. Be early. The messages that you communicate by keeping commitments are invaluable. This is a big step toward excellence.
  2. Set the bar high.You get to determine what excellence looks like to you. At the core, we are all con-men of our own lives, or, said another way, our hearts are deceptive above all else. Our self-talk should be honest and direct. We know what excellence really is and we should live it out.
  3. Be accountable. Let your closest network of those around you know your goal and help them understand who you want to be and what standard you want for your life. Ask them to help hold you accountable for living out the standard that you have communicated. Everyone will benefit from doing that.

So, there are your choices. Do you really want to be Excellent, distinguished and surpassing, or Mediocre, stuck in the middle of a rugged mountain? You get to decide.

Chris Goethe, CFE, MCC


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