🧑‍💻 Succeed Through Mediocrity

Why the key to success isn't talent or great work, but mediocrity at scale.

Hey Insiders!

I believe that perfectionism has killed more businesses and dreams than any other factor…

Simply because it stops you before you even get started.

This is likely not the first time you’ve heard that perfectionism is bad, and yet it permeates through our culture.

Why?

Because our actions speak louder than our words…

  • We focus more on our weaknesses than our strengths

  • We celebrate people who appear to be perfect

  • We view Bs and Cs as bad grades

So the question is, how do we cure Perfectionism?

By celebrating Mediocrity.

And it turns out that’s exactly what some of the most successful among us do!

Let’s dive in 👇

Succeed Through Mediocrity

I was recently listening to an interview between Ali Abdaal and Unjaded Jade about the process of writing a book.

And one of the lines hit me like a truck full of bricks…

As a YouTube creator with almost a million subscribers, Jade shared the pressure she experienced writing her book.

Because of her platform, she felt that a Best Seller was within her reach!

But that exact notion paralyzed her…

“Every time I had to sit down and write I was filled with so much dread because every single word had to be a ‘best selling word’”

In order to escape that feeling, she had to reshape the narrative around what she wanted her book to be.

She consciously decided that a Best Seller was not what she was shooting for.

She just wanted to publish a book.

Instead of focusing on her Big Hairy Audacious Goal, which crippled her, she chose to strive for Mediocrity.

And in case you’re curious, her book did end up becoming a Best Seller after all!

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Mediocre Actions Today = Great Results Tomorrow

Jade is not the only person to discover the magic of mediocrity.

The internet is filled with quotes about the negative power of perfectionism from noted entrepreneurs and creators.

“Perfectionism rarely begets perfection or satisfaction — only disappointment” — Ryan Holiday

“Perfectionism is a twenty-ton shield we lug around thinking it will protect us when, in fact, it’s the thing that’s really preventing us from taking flight.” — Brené Brown

Another author you’ll be familiar with who is a fan of mediocrity is none other than Tim Ferriss.

Tim has talked often about his struggles with perfectionism and admits that what has allowed him to write so many books is actively striving for mediocrity.

“My quota for writing is 2 crappy pages per day,” he shared during a conversation with fellow author Neil Straus.

Tim goes on to say that it’s what keeps him sane and writing daily.

If he doesn’t create goals that are “easily winnable” it can paralyze him.

While we’ve talked a lot about writers, this advice applies to all knowledge workers.

What is your version of "2 crappy pages”?

There is likely something right now that you’re actively avoiding doing, or not shipping, for no other reason than you don’t feel like it’s good enough.

You’re afraid of the possibility of failure!

Instead of it being great, ask yourself, is it mediocre?

If so, perhaps it’s time to hit SEND…

You can always improve it later!

Perfectionism can be Sneaky

I have many weaknesses…

  • Stratospheric levels of shiny object syndrome

  • A natural inclination towards laziness

  • Tendency to routinely skip leg day

But one thing I’ve always been proud of is not suffering from perfectionism…

I have no problem hitting send or publishing a new project.

Then recently I had a conversation with a friend that completely shattered that illusion!

While I have no problem shipping, our conversation revealed that my perfectionism strikes when it comes time to promote my work.

I will launch something and then stay quiet because I’m afraid people won’t like it, or that I’m embarrassed of my work because I feel like it’s not good enough.

“How is that any better than not hitting publish?” my friend asked.

He was right…

I never thought I struggled with perfectionism, but in reality, I had it just as bad as others, it was just rearing its ugly head in a sneaky way, stabbing me in the back when I wasn’t looking.

If you’re like me and don’t think perfectionism is a problem, make sure that it’s not just sneaky…

  • 🛟 Are you playing it safe and not pushing yourself because you’re afraid to fail?

  • 📅 Are you constantly “planning” and “strategizing” instead of taking action?

  • 👍 Do you say Yes to work you should say No to because you’re afraid to really focus on something?

These are classic examples of Sneaky Perfectionism…

🛟 Playing it safe: I started my podcast in 2019, but I had been wanting to start one since at least 2017. It took me so long to start it because I was afraid of failing at something I really cared about and wanted. It was safer to keep a dream.

📅 Planning: Spending tons of time planning and strategizing are common ways to feel like you’re doing work without actually putting yourself out there by taking action. It’s procrastination which is really another word for perfectionism.

👍 Saying Yes: Saying yes to things that are not a Hell Yeah is a way to stay in your safety zone, instead of doubling down on what you really want to do. It provides you with an excuse for your lack of perfection - “I’m so busy with other work that I don’t have time to focus on this, so I need to wait to ship.”

Wrapping Up 🌯

I’m sure there are some people reading this who will undoubtedly ask…

“But what about doing good work? What would the world look like if everyone just shot for mediocrity? I don’t want a mediocre life or business.”

And that’s a great point…

A mediocre product, service, or business won’t bring you success. 

It won’t inspire word of mouth, create raving fans, or serve as a vehicle for a dream life.

But the mere fact that you’re concerned about that tells me you don’t need to be!

The odds are that if you’re reading this newsletter, you’re not someone who is happy with mediocrity.

And yet, it’s that exact fear of mediocrity in the micro, that’s keeping you from achieving greatness in the macro.

Mediocre actions stacked on top of each other can create greatness!

Remember that with just 2 crappy pages a day, Tim Ferriss has written several best-selling books!

And I don’t think many of us would say he’s achieved only mediocre success…

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That’s it for today!

Thanks for spending a few minutes with me! I’d love to hear what you think about this edition of the newsletter…

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That’s it for today, see you Wednesday!

Cheers 🍻

Today’s email was written by Mitko Karshovski