On your life’s report card, are you seeking all A’s? Do you spiral downwards when you run into a C? Or worse, a failing grade? Are you after the highest praise for the efforts you put in?
If so, pull up a chair.
I’ve been that girl. It’s got to be all A’s or nothing. Up until now, that is. Because I’ve finally decided that mediocrity is not the end of the world. (Quite frankly, neither is outright total suckage.)
Case in point: I had the opportunity to better understand how my brain works when I attended an experiential leadership program in Wales this past March. I was thrown into five days of crazy-intense projects, each one becoming increasingly more complex than the last. It became clear mid-week that when under stress, Sam was incapable of digesting large volumes of technical information. Nope. Gross. In the words of Alexis Rose, “Ewwww, David!”
So, I melted into a puddle of tears when my desire to perform was met with my inability to function under those conditions. I also knew my performance hurt the team; talk about a humbling moment for the ego!
Despite the epic failure that was the task I led, understanding my weaknesses, and my zero interest in trying to learn how to be more technically savvy was a victory. I finally got it! Light-bulb moment… Sam Plavins’ brain is not optimally wired for this kind of thinking! Nor does she need it to be!
As long as we’re human, we’re going to suck at many things.
Some of them will be due to the effort we put in; maybe we underestimate what’s involved. (Low effort usually yields a low result, unless you’re exceptionally skilled in that area and can execute a win when seemingly asleep at the wheel!) While some paltry grades stem from a complete lack of interest. I mean, if you asked me to spend an afternoon in your basement putting together Ikea furniture, there’d have to be some killer prize at the end of that madness for me to say yes. Because nuts, bolts, screws, diagrams — not my thing! (Note: I really enjoy Salt & Vinegar Pringles paired with a nice Cabarnet and will feel your Ikea pain right alongside you if these snacks are are involved.)
But like my belly-flop at the Leadership Trust, we also net poor results when we’re put into a situation to perform and we just don’t have the skills to pull the thing off. Period.
So the question becomes: does it matter? Do we care? We don’t need to be good at everything. I’ve given up in the culinary department… myself, my family, friends — we all just accept that Sam’s idea of an appetizer is to crack open a bag of Tostitos, dump it in a chip bowl, pour some salsa on the side and voilà. Hospitality at its finest! There’s no point in me boo-hooing about this, because it’s just not in my wheelhouse as a skill, nor do I need to be tearing my hair out to whip up something more impressive. (Agreed. That is a very low bar I’ve set there.)
I could try harder. Yup. And I have. But I will always be that girl who shows up to the party with a store-bought container of mini cupcakes. Why fight it? Now, if you need someone to write and perform a Sam-style rap à-la Will Smith’s Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It? THAT I can do. And you’ll probably love it.
I’m learning that my efforts can also exist without fear of analysis. Without concern for the toughest critics. Even without achieving the highest possible outcome. I’m finally understanding that sometimes mediocrity is the best you’re going to get when simultaneously meeting the needs of the people who rely on you. And sometimes, you’re knowingly limping along. (Hello, Covid-19 fatigue anyone?)
Human beings are born with free will and this means we can choose. How much meaning we assign to something is fully up to us. We need to work on giving up this idea of a constant stellar performance. It’s far too much pressure, and we do it to ourselves.
So I’m gonna take my half-baked, half-assed efforts, marry them with my best foot forward and let the chips fall where they may. I already know I’m worthy. Someone once told me that God doesn’t make mistakes. We are all here for a reason.
Let’s ditch the A-only mentality. It’s killing us! It’s not sustainable. It’s not real. What matters most is our truth and the pursuit of it. If that truth equals a weekend of chocolate binging and general lying around, then let it. If it equals a weekend of hustling and getting your shit done, then so be it.