If you don’t require the journey to be easy or comfortable or safe, you can change the world.” -Seth Godin
Is there anyone out there who desperately wants to live a life of “moderate or low quality and value?”
Good. What you just read was Merriam-Webster’s official definition of “mediocre,” and unless you’re borderline insane, there’s no reasonable reason why you would want a life like that for you or for your loved ones.
The good news is that we all agree on this (we do agree on this, right?)
The bad news is that “not wanting” a mediocre life isn’t even close to the real problem. Let’s be real, no one here needs to be convinced that choosing to live a mediocre life is a terrible idea.
The real problem is that many people are living mediocre and unfulfilled lives that they absolutely don’t want, and they don’t know why.
Even worse, it’s usually because they’ve been taught to put their faith in some seriously faulty beliefs.
These beliefs are ones that I used to deeply believe in, and if you believe in them now, the goal of this blog post is to hopefully change your mind, permanently.
Below are three seemingly harmless (but incredibly dangerous) “needs” that will lead your life down the dark road of mediocrity faster than you can imagine. Some people may even advise you that these needs are the keys to living a happy and peaceful life.
They’re dead wrong.
1. The Need For It To Be Easy
I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life. I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well.” -Theodore Roosevelt
Out of the three needs that I’m going to talk about in this blog post, none of them will steer you down the dark road to mediocrity faster than this one.
If you’re a fan of The Positivity Solution’s Facebook page, you probably know that I like to post some of my personal thoughts, some motivational quotes, positive videos/articles, or basically anything that will help you to feel inspired, motivated, and positive on a daily basis.
From now on, I want you to notice something.
After I post something on the Facebook page about doing something big (for example: Going after your deepest dreams, removing toxic relationships from your life, facing your fears, or stopping the life-destroying habit of chronically complaining, etc.) you’ll notice something interesting.
I’ll almost always hear from someone who will consistently say some variation of the same tired tune:
“Yeah, if only it were that easy.”
“Umm…easier read than done, Shola.”
“I wish that it was easy to actually follow that advice.”
Let me be clear about this:
There is nothing more pathetic, pitiful, and embarrassing than a person who will do what’s necessary to improve their lives, only if it’s easy.
Why such harsh words?
Because I used to be a guy who needed it to be easy, and it almost ruined my life. I’ve gone down that dark, lonely road before and I don’t want the same fate for you or for anyone else.
Living an epic life, a life that we’re proud to use as an example for our loved ones, and a life that maximizes our potential on this earth, will never happen by consistently choosing the “easy” road.
Don’t believe me?
Ask a person who made the agonizing decision to permanently walk away from a toxic relationship with a family member.
Ask a single, working mom who found the time to accomplish her lifelong dream of getting a college degree while raising two little boys.
Ask a person who found the discipline to make better food choices, kept showing up to the gym even though she was severely overweight, and as a result, lost 70 lbs and fully regained her health.
Ask a person who found the courage to stand up to his abusive boss who was making his life a living hell.
Ask a person who looked at his paralyzing fear of public speaking square in the eyes and gave a successful presentation in front of 100 complete strangers.
One thing that you’ll never hear any of them say was that it was “easy.”
If these things were easy, everyone would be doing them. But they’re not easy, and not everyone is doing them because they’re hard as hell. In some cases, these things might be the hardest things that you’ll ever do in your life.
Actually, scratch that.
The hardest thing that you’ll ever do in your life is making the life-destroying decision to only do what’s easy.
It may not seem that way now, but if you choose that road, there will come a day when you’ll look back on a mediocre life lived with the most intense regret imaginable.
And trust me, that won’t be easy to deal with.
2. The Need To Play It Safe
One can choose to go back toward safety or forward toward growth. Growth must be chosen again and again; fear must be overcome again and again.” -Abraham Maslow
This “need” is generally accepted by most people as a good thing because “playing it safe” is what responsible adults do.
Only weirdos, maniacs, and people who place little value on their lives do wildly dangerous things like juggle chainsaws or wrestle live crocodiles just for the hell of it.
But none of that craziness is what this is about.
People who choose a life of “playing it safe” are the ones who don’t apply for that amazing job opening in their department because there’s a possibility that they won’t get it. They’re the ones who refuse to ask the cute girl in their apartment complex out on a date because there’s a chance that they could get shot down. They’re the ones who will never launch their blog, record their album, write their screenplay, or start their business because there’s a chance that they could fail or look silly in the process.
Since there is a risk involved in all of those things, these people justify their choice to stay on the sidelines of life as “playing it safe.” And on the surface, that almost sounds true.
Except that it’s not.
Playing it safe rarely has anything to do with “being safe.” If we’re going to be honest here, it’s really only about one thing:
I cannot stress this enough–absolutely nothing meaningful in this world’s history has ever been accomplished by “playing it safe.” Absolutely nothing.
Let’s use an example that hits close to home:
Think of the greatest accomplishment in your life.
Seriously, take a moment to think about it–not just a minor accomplishment, think of the greatest accomplishment in your life to date.
Do you have it in your mind? Good.
Now, be real with me–didn’t it involve some risk? Wasn’t there a very real possibility that you could have failed? Didn’t it involve facing your fear in some way? What if you chose to “play it safe” by choosing not to go for it? How different would your life be if you went down that road instead?
The good news is that you didn’t go down that road.
Even though you might have been worried, scared, or both, you still rejected the need to play it safe and you did it anyway. As a result, you were able to enjoy the greatest accomplishment in your life to date.
It’s worth keeping that fact in mind the next time (and there will be a next time) your fears try to keep you on the sidelines of life, instead of in the arena enjoying even greater accomplishments that could come your way.
Remember, “playing it safe” is turning down a request from your snake-handler buddy to pet-sit his poisonous snake for him while he’s on vacation. However, turning down an offer to share your art (writing, paintings, singing, acting, etc.) with the world because people might criticize it (and/or, you), is not playing it safe.
And unless you’re interested in living a mediocre life far beneath the one you’re capable of living, I can safely say that you’re going to need to get over it, quick.
There’s only one way to do it (and you know exactly how to do it too): Face whatever it is that scares you.
Just like any bully, once you decide to stand up to your fears, you’ll see how quickly those fears will back down and get quiet.
Also, just like any bully, if you keep running from your fears, your fears will happily continue to emotionally torment and torture you for as long as you’ll allow it.
If you choose to go down the second road, just know that there’s no amount of “playing it safe” that will protect you from being bullied by your fears for years and years to come–possibly until the day that you die.
Maybe “playing it safe” really isn’t all that safe after all.
3. The Need To Be Comfortable
A man grows most tired while standing still.” -Chinese Proverb
I’ve touched on this need before, but it’s too important not to address again.
So many people live their entire lives with a dream of living comfortably as the prize at the end of their rainbows. Maybe you have that dream too. If so, I’m going to desperately plead with you to strive for a much bigger dream than that.
You’re not here on this earth to be comfortable. You’re here to live the greatest life that you possibly can, but your greatest life possible will quickly become impossible if you’re cool with simply being comfortable.
The biggest roadblock to experiencing our greatest lives is, and always will be, the need to be comfortable.
There’s a reason why new homeowners are told to immediately fix the big flaws in their houses as soon as they move in (e.g., broken tiles in the bathroom, a hole in the wall, or a creaky floor board), because if they don’t, something disturbing happens:
Eventually they’ll get to a point where they barely notice the broken areas of the house anymore, then they learn to accept it, and worst of all, they finally become comfortable with it.
But let’s forget about your house for a minute. The stakes raise considerably when it’s your life that we’re talking about instead.
What if you learned to become comfortable in an emotionally-destructive relationship? What if you learned to become comfortable carrying around 40 extra pounds that you didn’t have this time last year? What if you learned to become comfortable in a miserable job that is slowly killing your passion, your creativity, and your soul? What if you learned to become comfortable with the idea that happiness, success, and inner peace are for other people, and not for you?
This is the very dark side of comfort.
Comfort is awesome if you’re fortunate enough to find it on a cramped, cross-country flight stuck in the middle seat, but as the default mode for living your life, it’s pretty much the worst strategy ever.
Thankfully, I’ve had quite a few mentors in my life who were willing to keep it real with me when it came to my stubborn need to be comfortable at any cost.
The following is a piece of advice from one of them that I’ll never forget:
“Staying comfortable means refusing to grow, because all (not some, all) personal growth happens outside of your comfort zone. If you’re serious about improving your life in any way, it will never happen for you until you find the guts to step out of your comfort zone.”
She was right, and if that wasn’t enough, she then found this quote online and emailed it to me:
Comfort zones are plush lined coffins. When you stay in your plush lined coffins, you die.” -Stan Dale
From what I’ve heard, coffins are really comfortable. But what good is that comfort if you’re willing to die just to experience it?
What’s Really at Stake
So, why I am so focused on getting as many people as possible off of the Road to Mediocrity? The hint is in the Seth Godin quote at the beginning of this blog post. If you missed it, here it is again:
If you don’t require the journey to be easy or comfortable or safe, you can change the world.” -Seth Godin
As many of you already know, I desperately want to change the world. In order to make the dream of creating a kinder, happier, and more positive world a reality, I know two things for sure:
1) We have to do it together–the more people who are willing to join the positivity movement, the better.
2) The people in this movement cannot be willing to accept mediocrity in any form if we want this dream to become real.
For the people reading these words, I can promise you this–choosing to positively change your lives (or even the world) won’t be easy, safe, or comfortable.
But it’s necessary, and I’m here to tell you that you have everything within you to make it happen.
That’s why it’s the only road worth traveling.
Are you dealing with the need for it to be easy, safe, or comfortable in your life? Have you had any success overcoming these needs? If so, jump into the comments below and make your voice heard!