Rachel Jenae

Signature of Mediocrity

The true signature of mediocrity is…chronic inconsistency. -Jim Collins

I recently heard this statement at the Global Leadership Summit and every time I read it I’m convicted even  more. Jim Collins was speaking about his new book Great by Choice, and one of the top reasons people/companies/organizations are not successful. Inconsistency.

One of my greatest fears in life has always been to be mediocre at things God called me to be great at simply because I wasn’t willing to do the work, or I lacked the understanding of how to do it better. But also beyond that, I fear that my generation is often working so hard to be great now-in their small perspective of time-that they will fizzle out before they even really know anything simply because they don’t value consistency. They don’t value going the distance.

Here’s an example. The goal could be to run a 1/2 marathon and get in really good shape by the end of the year. The discipline would be to set daily goals on how to reach it. So you decide to get up early and work out 5 days a week.  The consistency isn’t in actually getting up, it’s in the details. On any given day when you have more energy do you push yourself more and run farther and lift more? Consistency is staying within the parameters of the details for reaching your goal.

In Great by Choice, Collins writes a whole chapter on the importance of consistency. He calls it the 20 Mile March.  He tells the story of two explorers and their goal to reach the south pole. Each had prepared in their own way, done the research and had their teams ready to go. They knew it would be an incredibly hard goal to reach, but they had prepared. They each set out at a grueling but steady 20 mile march a day. But one of the teams picked up their pace and on an exceptionally nice day they pushed past their 20 mile march and went an extra distance. What they weren’t counting on is how that would deplete the men for the following day or how much more they would want to eat having pushed beyond their regular goal. The next day a storm came in requiring more energy to push on and more food to sustain their efforts. This was just one of the causes that in the end led to this teams loss and death. The winning team, on the other hand, stayed consistent. There were days they could have pushed more, but they stuck to their 20 mile march and only 20 miles. They were focused on the details and with this great discipline they stuck to their plan. They weren’t as concerned about speed as they were about actually just finishing with their lives.

If you only set a minimum requirement in your self discipline, whatever that may be, then you are only going to be half as successful. You may often wonder why you’re not moving forward and gaining ground. Back to the workout example, consistency is setting the details in the beginning. The minimum basic discipline, but also the maximum that you will not go over even on days you feel great and could run past your goal. By staying within those predetermined disciplines you are looking to go the distance, not just today, but for weeks, months and years to come.

I have a quote on my computer at work that says this well and I think it ties in with what Collins has said time and time again in most of his books,

Recommended reading:

Good to Great

Great by Choice