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Mediocrity used to be the measure of all things: If you didn’t make any mistakes in your job, you got promoted. But now the Internet has changed all the rules. Whether you are a journalist, a politician or a taxi driver, in the networked world everything and everyone will be put to the test. The web will forgive everything – except mediocrity.  




Advice for the Future 

When I give workshops or lectures students often ask me why I do what I do and if I can make a living from it. I feel flattered in those moments, but also ill at ease, because I don’t believe that I make a good role model.

Anyway, if there is a piece of advice I would give to younger people today, then it would be: Avoid mediocrity!

Don’t waste your life with being mediocre, concentrate on your strengths. It is no longer enough just to fulfil requirements. In a globally networked working environment you will only succeed if you’re passionate about what you do, and so stand out from the crowd.



Fear Eats the Soul

I have worked for a number of different bosses during my working life. Good bosses, I might add. They had very different personalities, but they had one thing in common: Whenever you approached them with a new idea, you could see this one question rise above their head like a menace: “Could I get into trouble for this?”

It never was about the idea itself, and whether it was a good idea or a bad idea. What my supervisors worried about was the question if they could make themselves vulnerable by letting me try it, if anybody could say anything, if failure could have a negative impact on their own career.

Fear will paralyze you. Yes, it keeps us out of danger, but it also bars us from all the fantastic new opportunities around us.



Never Make a Mistake

Over the last few years I met a lot of people whose main achievement it was never to have given offence, never to have made any mistakes. Neat, well-adjusted, system-intelligent. Nothing they did was ever poor. But nothing they did was really good, either.

That will work as long as the economy is growing and there’s lots of revenue. But the innovations from the industrial age, the business models that were invented by the generations before us are in the process of being taken apart by the digital revolution – bit by bit, until nothing will be left of them.

The world as we know it has become unhinged by the internet. If you are a musician, a journalist or a taxi driver – no job is secure any longer. Everything is being put to the test. We can all perceive it, it’s getting closer and closer to our own surroundings.




quote_mediocrity_grahamMediocrity is not an Option

If I learned one thing from the internet, then it’s the insight that on the web there is no room for mediocrity. Mediocrity is not a niche. Mediocrity is a grave.

In the age of mass media mediocrity was the measure of all things. A (mass) program, a television host, a newspaper had to accommodate everybody, they were not allowed to have a sharp profile, they all had to be at the level of the lowest common denominator.

In a networked world it is no longer the crowd that makes the choices, it is the individual, and the rules are different. Egalitarianism is no longer the point. The point is that you have to be relevant – in you genre, in your field.

Be the first or be the best

If you cannot offer one or the other, you have a problem. Nobody in this world is waiting for mediocrity!

Or can you remember anyone saying at the watercooler ”I watched a new series last night. It was really super mediocre“?

”Yeah, awright“ is not a category on the internet. Mediocrity is blocked by search filters and by a lack of likes. To put it differently: Mediocrity is the little brother of “nice”.




So What Can You Do?

quote_mediocrity_doyleIf there is anything that you have fun doing, that you are convinced that you’re good at, go all the way and try to make it what you do, even on your own if need be. Your advantage: you’re more flexible, and you can react faster to any changes in the market. Faster than the large tankers, (“we’ve always done it that way!”) anyway.

Avoid naysayers. Find people who are as passionate about your idea as you are. Find people who are not in it for the money or for their next promotion, but who are in it for the thing itself.

This era that we were born into demands a lot more from us than playing for time. Hoping that nothing will change until you retire or hoping that it won’t be as bad as all that anyway is not going to get you anywhere.

Le your ideas drive you, not your fear. If you only start to think about your new opportunities when the need arises or if someone tells you to, it will be too late.

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