12 Most Annoying Excuses for Your Mediocrity

12 Most Annoying Excuses for Your Mediocrity

“Mediocrity is crowded, but there’s a whole lot of room up in excellence.” ~ Lisa Nichols

Daggers flew through hundreds of hearts as those words left the lips of the keynote speaker. Many in the audience realized that they lived in crowded quarters. They were used to the familiarity of being ordinary and the sting of those words woke every person up.

People who live extraordinary personal and professional lives do not live in the space of mediocrity. There are phrases that they will never even think to speak.

Here are twelve of them we’ve all heard before… some of us may have even spoken them. See if anything sounds familiar.

1. I’m not smart enough

We’re not all meant to be Einstein. Successful people don’t have to be smart. They just have to be smart enough to have smart people around them.

2. I don’t have the right degree/title

Hello? Steve Jobs. Richard Branson. Mary Kay Ash. Frank Lloyd Wright (look it up). Not one of these people had a degree in the industries they ruled. It’s wonderful if you have a formal background in a particular field. However, a degree doesn’t give you permission to excel. You do.

3. I’m broke

Money can make some things easier but it doesn’t rule everything. Money can’t buy innovation. If you are creative, passionate, and persistent enough, someone else will be willing to invest. Other people’s money works just as well as your own… if you have any.

4. I’m too old

“You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” Correction. You can’t teach uninterested, lazy, complacent dogs new tricks-or scared dogs for that matter. Age should be used for nothing more than record-keeping purposes. People who say this should be old enough to know better.

5. I don’t have any connections

In the time of social media, the theory of six degrees has been cut down to two or three. Virtual connections have shown themselves to be just as important as physical ones. Be valuable enough to others and watch the network grow.

6. No one will help me

People who don’t receive help are generally the same ones who don’t ask for it. Requesting help makes people feel vulnerable which is something many of us don’t want to be. Extraordinary people don’t worry about how they might look. They just get things done.

7. I don’t know how

This is an excuse of the industrial age. These days, we suffer from information overload. If there is something you need to know, the answers are literally at your fingertips. If technology scares you, then ask someone to help you with it. See number 6. (Unfortunately, if technology scares you, this post will never cross your path…)

8. It’s too hard

Unwillingness to take on a challenge is the proclamation of the complacent. Living in a box is easy. Conversely, those who strive for excellence see living with constraints as hard. It’s all in how you choose to frame it.

9. I haven’t done that before

The masses will choose to hide behind the familiar. Innovators thrive off of unfamiliar territory. The willingness to face the unknown will always separate the mediocre from the excellent.

10. I don’t have time

Many of us lead busy lives. However, busy does not necessarily translate into productive. Moving into excellence requires that we learn to value our time and engage in activities that reflect that. The bottom line is that we make time for the things we value. If you value success, you will find the time to work towards it.

11. The rules won’t let me

Rules are meant to provide guidance. They are not meant to absolve us of common sense, creativity, or vision. If you are in an environment that robs you of these qualities, mediocrity is a given. Excellence can’t thrive in these conditions.

12. I’ll do it after ___________

Fill in the blank with any of the following: after my kids are grown, after I retire, after I turn X, after I have X amount in the bank. People have all sorts of excuses to delay elevation to the next level. We all know that time is one thing we can’t guarantee. Excellence lives in the present, not the future.

Do you hear yourself saying any of these statements? If so, you are limiting your infinite potential. People at the top of their game don’t use excuses. Do you?

Where do you spend most of your time? In excellence or in mediocrity?

Featured image courtesy of Joseph Gray licensed via Creative Commons.


Emelia Sam

http://www.emeliasam.com/

Dr. F. Emelia Sam is a writer, speaker, and oral surgeon in the Washington, DC area. She is the author of I Haven't Found Myself but I'm Still Looking and How to Create the Life You Really Want. Most importantly, she abhors raisins and is a fierce advocate of Red Velvet.

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22 comments
KateNasser
KateNasser

Hi Emelia,

#7 on your list (I don't know how) caught my eye for sure. My mother had an answer for that one when I was a child --- "look it up".  And there was no Internet back then.

 

My parents had high expectations of us in daily everyday behavior. It built a strong work ethic and can do attitude that has stood by me.  When I started my biz many years ago, it was my belief that I could learn anything and work hard that overcame my fears.

 

Thanks mom and dad.

 

And thank you Emelia for this great post.

Kate

dbvickery
dbvickery

First time I heard that introductory quote - and I loved it, Emilia. Mediocrity can be the result of fear, perceived limited resources or capabilities, and complacency. Appreciated your candid wake-up call with this post.

Edward Colozzi
Edward Colozzi

Hi Emelia,

A wonderful post that reminds me about the numerous times throughout my own career-life journey, I have heard many of these "inner voices" (from the false self vs True Self) trying to get me off course! It IS a challenge to listen to those gentle whispers of our True Self who is always sharing Her truth with us to nudge us to the most appropriate directions that will lead us forward. My recent concerns are that I love life and people, and would so enjoy being here for about another 40 years. But alas, that's not going to happen. So I choose to be in a state of gratitude to God for a Blessed life and an opportunity to share my passions and calling with whomever I'm supposed to, and for whatever years I have left on this precious planet. I am learning how to let go of attachments to outcomes and simply trust in God's will for me. A challenge for me and yet an important goal for me,  and I think all of us,  as we assume this very human career-life journey with its abundant lessons for learning, loving, and growth. Thank YOU Emelia for all you offer to inspire us. EdC

gracinginfinity
gracinginfinity

@gracinginfinity Hi Emila! I know I have used all of them at one time or another. But, I have also deliberately decided NOT to use them each as well and muscle through whatever I "thought" (secretly wanted) held me back. I think time is the most used. You are right we all have the same amount ~ right now. All I have is this moment, everything else is a gift. How I choose to use right now, this moment, this breath, this heartbeat is what counts. I can. I will. I am. I do. It is choice.

Peg

letmemoveyou
letmemoveyou

Hi Emila... over time I likley have used most of them. But today.. I'd have to say #12. There's always something else that must be done first. Sometimes it's procrastination... but other times it's plain old fear and excuses.

 

It's so easy to use excuses to stop us... but we need to believe, step forward and follow our dreams.

sharongreenthal
sharongreenthal

As a (relatively) new user of social media, I can tell you that many of these applied to me just a year ago, especially the "I'm too old" one. But you are right, none of these should stand in anybody's way of finding success, whatever that means to them. 

Simon_GB
Simon_GB

Nice one Emelia,

I think I have used all of them at some point in my life. Today I am in a good place and I can honestly say that #11 went out the window many moons ago.

 

So while I can not say I do not get grabbed by one of them every now and again, I find it does not take me long to realize I am in their grip and break free. If there is one that does get me still it is a loss of belief and faith in myself, but that also does not take so long to find again. 

 

Life is a wonderful journey of discovery, it has roadblocks, mountains and oceans to cross, but what a journey. I for one have never been much for flat open roads and the challenge is what spurs me on.

 

Thanks for the reminder to sit up straight, smile and host the sails.

jennifer Alhasa
jennifer Alhasa

Love this, Emelia, & thanks for sharing! While I hate to admit it, I'm mumbled a few of these (3, 7, & 12) of late & kept myself in "victim" mode in the process. Thanks for helping me name & claim my power again. I'm all about attaining excellence!

Martina McGowan
Martina McGowan

Great post, Emelia.

 

 

If I have to choose one, its that I don't have enough time. We all have the same amount of time in our days. I have learned to be a little more honest with myself, and others, and changed the answer to reflect that time is not the issue, but I'm just not interested or that it is not a high enough priority to devote the time I do have.

 

My favorite "fake" one, for people who don't really know me is that "I am not smart enough."

But you are right. They are all pretty lame.

 

I think Paul is correct that we are in a culture where many people seem to accept mediocrity as the norm, and that is sad. So much talent is wasted hiding behind excuses.

 

Martina

@MartinaMcGowan

PaulBiedermann
PaulBiedermann moderator

This is a wonderful post, Emelia — unfortunately, we are largely a culture of mediocrity but these are great reminders about the mindset necessary to rise above the rest. 

 

Striving for excellence is a worthy cause. In fact, I think it is difficult to have integrity without it. Although we may often fall short, it is the standard we should be striving for and doing the most with our talents. Without it, we will never be as great as we might have been.

 

Welcome to 12 Most — where we also strive for excellence.

Latest blog post: rose - 12 Most | 12 Most

jennykaypollock
jennykaypollock

Emelia - Great post! I think college students are particularly guilty of some of these especially number 12. There are ALWAYS excuses not get started. Thanks for sharing - it's a great motivator.

EmeliaSam
EmeliaSam

 @KateNasser Thanks, Kate.  Every time I hear myself start to even think that thought, I shut it down. Your mother was spot on...and these days we have absolutely no excuse for it. 

EmeliaSam
EmeliaSam

 @dbvickery Thanks, Brian. Love Lisa Nichols. She has a way of making things VERY real. Glad you enjoyed the post. :)

EmeliaSam
EmeliaSam

 @Edward Colozzi Thank you so much, Ed. I think your beautiful response says it all. Which voice do we pay heed? Those hopeful whispers point the way if we just pay attention. Thank YOU for the inspiration you so graciously give to us. :)  

EmeliaSam
EmeliaSam

 @gracinginfinity Hey Peg. :) You are not alone.  About half of the people who have responded (through twitter) state that they rely on the time excuse. We just have endless distractions these days which seem to eat up our time. Taking an honest inventory of where our time is spent usually shows how unproductive or stressed out we can be. You are right. How we spend each moment is a choice and we have to continually keep that in mind. 

EmeliaSam
EmeliaSam

 @letmemoveyou Procrastination-a good friend of mine...or should I say "frenemy. " There will always be something else to attend to. We just have to decide if we make ourselves a priority. No time like the present. 

EmeliaSam
EmeliaSam

 @sharongreenthal It's funny how this particular excuse has nothing to do with age. I have 26 year old students who'll say things like, "But I'm almost 30. It's too late for that." My response is usually something like, "You're 26 damn years old..." Just puts things in perspective when someone who's early on in the timeline uses the same excuse. It's not about age, at all. Thanks for your comment, Sharon. :) 

EmeliaSam
EmeliaSam

 @Simon_GB Thank you, Simon, for such a thoughtful reply.  I can totally relate to backsliding every now and again...but awareness is what keeps us from staying in that state. Thank you for being part of the tribe that keeps me on my toes. :)

EmeliaSam
EmeliaSam

Thanks, Jennifer. I've played the victim for years with #11 - "the rules won't let me." It's allowed me to run in place for far too long. Here's to reclaiming power!

EmeliaSam
EmeliaSam

 @Martina McGowan  @MartinaMcGowan Thanks, Martina. :) The thought of you not being smart enough is laughable. They would have to not know you AT ALL!  

 

Paul is spot on about being a culture of mediocrity and you are so right about the talent being wasted. I just wish more of us believed in ourselves. We all need to look at extraordinary people as inspiration and not the exception. We're all capable of phenomenal things.   

EmeliaSam
EmeliaSam

 @PaulBiedermann Thanks, Paul. You bring up an interesting point about integrity with which I have to agree. If we aren't reaching for excellence, we are denying our innate potential. That is an internal conflict. 

 

Fortunately, that isn't a problem for the tribe at 12 Most. It's this kind of innovation and forward thinking that inspires the complacent to reach a little further. I'm grateful for the opportunity to contribute to the community. Thanks for the warm welcome. 

EmeliaSam
EmeliaSam

@jennykaypollock

Hey Jenny

 

Being a faculty member I can definitely attest to some of the excuses students will use. However, I can think of the equal number of times my colleagues, friends, acquaintances have used the same ones.  Accountability is a lifelong lesson! (Myself included.) 

 

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