Mediocrity — It Drives Me Crazy! (780 words)

Since I live in a metaphorical glass house, I’ll be the first to admit that I screw up—a lot. And, making a mistake is a far cry from simply being lazy. I’ll never forget the comment that my boss, Ray Kahn, made to me sometime in the late 1970s; “If you aren’t making mistakes, I don’t need you because you are not taking risks. However, if you keep making the same mistakes, I don’t need you because you are not learning.” These are very powerful words, and they have made a difference to me my entire adult life.

It’s Good Enough…

How many times have you heard this one? “It’s good enough for government work.” The government (pick one; federal, state, or local) might be deserving of this; however it need not be applied to your work. Every job has certain acceptable tolerances that are sufficient enough for the product or service to work properly.

What I’m talking about is outside the scope of acceptable tolerances. Is it acceptable for a school bus driver to only take a child half-way home? I don’t think so. So then why might it be acceptable for a worker to do his or her job in a half-ass manner? Do I want to buy a product or service that only does only half of what it is promised to do? Not so much.

I Just Can’t Stay Focused

Why should your lack of focus mean that I deserve an inferior product or service? Lack of focus, if not a medical condition, clearly stems from boredom and apathy. If someone has a medical condition that inhibits their lack of focus, you can be sure that I don’t want them operating heavy equipment or guarding confidential data.

I’m talking about the people that do not like their jobs so they go out drinking every night and stumble into work with cobwebs in their brain. I’m talking about the people that while are at work physically, they are mentally on vacation in Maui . I’m talking about the people that spend so much time with their noses in other people’s business, in the metaphorical “rice bowls” of their co-workers, that they have no time to do the jobs that they are assigned. I’m talking about the people that make the choice to defuse their focus. Who needs them?

The People that Work for Me Suck

I’ll never forget the comment an acquaintance of mine made when I visited his hardware store in my town. He told me that he had awful employees. I asked him who hired these folks and he replied, “I did.” Wow! Isn’t a person responsible for the quality of employees that he or she hires—apparently not—per this guy’s philosophy? My friend Larry Winget says, “If your life sucks, you suck.” Stinging words are they not? But, are the words true? I think they are.

While there are wonderful persons that run businesses and supervise workers, there are a few here and there that need to get fired. I’m not talking about the great leaders but rather the idiots that daily masquerade as decent human beings. I’m talking about bosses that couldn’t find their way out of a paper bag if their life depended on it, yet they are responsible for others. Bosses like this bring the worst out in themselves and the people they supervise. These bosses are truly deserving of an old fashion tar and feathering party.

What Does It Matter?

If you have given up on life, it doesn’t matter—just fake a back injury and live on welfare the rest of your life. Or, as I’ve heard it said far too many times; just get a government job. However, doing at the very least a good job and better yet a great job should matter to every American. The days of US nomination in industry are long gone. There is competition, for your job, scattered among the far corners of the globe—it matters!

Perhaps one of the reasons that Jim Collins’ book, Good to Great did so well is the fact that Americans love their heroes? I completely believe that it is the mandate of any employer to create an environment of success in which their employees can succeed. And it is the responsibility of every American worker to excel to their highest lever—otherwise don’t whine when jobs are sent off-shore or illegal aliens are hired because they will work for nickels rather than dollars.

What does it matter? It should, and must, matter a lot. If it doesn’t matter, what kind of a crap-hole country are we leaving to our children? It matters to me.