The Art Of Mediocrity

I came to work the other day and was dealing with a particularly difficult case.  It wasn't difficult in a straight technical or knowledge sense, but there were so many mitigating factors that played into how decisions had to be made that it was a constant drain on my mental process to work out this case and make the appropriate decision.  Part of the solution however was dependent on a group of professionals that are there every day, one of whom is dealing with this particular individual.....this professional's observations was key in how I would make my decision.  On this particular day I was presented with a major decision on which course I should take; I turned to my resource, the professional that is there every day and asked what they thought.  The answer, "I don't know, I have been gone for the last several days."  That was it......"don't know" was essentially the answer I received.  I stared at this person for a brief moment and replied "wrong answer."  You see, it is the job of this particular professional who assumes the responsibility of the previous professional to educate themselves on all aspects of what is going on with the individual on whom I have to make a decision.  Whether they were there or not, it is their job to know what is going on.  However the culture "creep" has always been to divorce oneself from responsibility by falling back on the notion that since they were not here, they are absolved of having to get themselves up to speed.  Mediocrity pure and simple and it drives me crazy.

I am sorry to be somewhat vague in the description but I don't want to get bogged down by me explaining to you my profession or put titles on the others I need to work with, it is the point I am trying to get across.  If you truly wish to be called a "professional" then there are certain attributes that you must have and mediocrity is not one of them.  You don't strive to be moderately good, to be just OK or to be just average.  You may wind up like that when compared to your peers, but you don't make that your target.  If you don't understand that, then you better get a different job where a "so-so" performance is considered acceptable.

This is one aspect we try to drill into our staff when we train them.  The term "I will do my best....." is not just a set of words, it is a set-up to remind you that you will always do your best regardless of what you undertake.  Even if your best puts you in dead center of the pack, it doesn't are pushing yourself to be as successful as you can.  Taking the example above, if the said "professional" that I mentioned was caught off guard, then the only acceptable answer would have been "I don't know, but I will find out and get right back to you immediately."  Sure, I would have expected more, but at least the person I was talking to understood that they were not up to the speed they were supposed to be and that recognition is 3/4 of the battle.

Even I have to be careful at camp that I don't fall into the feeling "oh, this will work if we just do it that way."  I remember a saying, though I cannot remember who said it, which I fear may apply to me.  Men of age object too much, consult too long, adventure too little, repent too soon and seldom drive to greatness but content themselves with a mediocrity of success.  OUCH!  I have found myself objecting too much and adventuring too little, though I doubt I repent to soon.  Do I hold back opportunities for our staff and program to be great?  Hard to say, but I know what I expect out of them and they would probably be shocked to hear me say that they can do it better now than I could when I was their age.

Being mediocre is one thing, some people are doomed to be that way and are blissfully unaware that they are.  People who accept mediocrity on the other hand really have no place at Camp Parsons.  When I used to teach more than I do now and someone who I considered mediocre and who knew it came and asked me for a recommendation for a job or further education I would answer (and still do) by saying, "My recommendation?  Sure.  Here is how it will begin, 'Of all the ________who have worked for me, such and such is certainly one of them.  He(she) is consistently and outstandingly average; on a ranking from 0-10 he(she) is a solid 5' that what you want?"  After the individual is done staring at me, they usually walk away and seldom ask me for something again.

There is no art of mediocrity, but there are a lot of people out there who are trying to make it one.