Everyone should be mediocre in their lives at some point or other. It gives perspective and relevance to when our lives are spectacularly awesome or devastatingly horrible. Mediocre is an okay place to be but you have to be careful you don’t unwittingly get stuck there. It’s like the stealthy ninja of the behavioural addiction problems humans are prone to. Alcohol, gambling, food, drugs and sex addictions – they get all the fanfare and hog the attention spotlight. Mediocrity? Not so much. It’s so incredibly easy to just live day to day with the back of your mind thought of “That will do.” “That’s good enough.” “Nobody is perfect so this will be fine” or even the more conscious deliberate thought of “How much do I actually have to do here to meet the minimum requirements?” None of these thoughts are problem signs of addiction per se but if they become everyday, all the time stalwarts then you’ve probably become addicted to that mediocre approach to everything. And you better watch out because if you don’t stem that tide you’ll be drowning in apathy before you know it.
As far as sweeping generalised statements go this one is pretty big but I have to say that I believe Australians are probably the experts at apathy. We like to euphemise our apathy with words like -Australians are so casual, laid back, easy going, relaxed but let’s be honest even our fired up parliamentary sessions or lively political debates look pretty tame when you consider the extreme displays seen outside this country. We actually all probably have fairly strongly held opinions on the issues but we really need lots of poking and prodding and goading and cajoling to first get those opinions heard and second to actually provoke any kind of course of action as a result. I wonder if this is a culturally specific malaise? Which is all very fancy talk for the question of Why are Australians so bloody lazy when it comes to issues they all feel strongly about???? Things like climate change, immigration, foreign policy, planned parenthood, welfare, health reforms. I certainly include myself amongst them – and I think the word disillusioned is definitely part of it. But that’s a cop out too.
Why was I doing all this thinking about mediocrity? Well I was thinking about my sport of choice – dog agility. And I like how it caters to all levels of commitment. From the social butterfly type who simply just attends training and trials really in order to hang out with friends and chat, maybe even share some food and a wine or two. Then there are those who aspire to move through the levels – they need a slightly higher level of dedication if they want to make it to Masters level but they still very much have a hobby like approach. Then there are the weekend warriors – they are the highest level here in Australia as we simply do now have the population in the sport to allow for the European or American types who do nothing but agility 7 days a week and earn income from it. We call them Career agility types. No in Australia we have the weekend warriors who still have some sort of full or part time job (often unrelated to agility) but who spend many evenings and weekends and spare time honing their skills making sure their dogs are fit and well conditioned and who seek to find the best instruction and read as much as they can. Our National winners and the ones who compete internationally are these types. So in agility it is fine to be mediocre. It is also fine to be barely trained at trialling level and it is totally acceptable to be dedicated enough that you engage in other activities that help your performance. Every single one of us was mediocre at one point no matter how elite our performances become. None of us started off elite in any sport. Possibly slightly more talented and advantaged by skill or form but never elite to start with. Mediocre has a place in letting us see progress and I like that. For some it’s a place they are quite content to live for the rest of their sport going careers and for others it’s a place to move on from. Agility welcomes all types and I love that about my sport. Most of the time I try to rise above the allure of mediocrity because that’s the way I’m wired. This is one of the people in the world who inspire such wiring. He has a freakishly huge set of lungs so yes physically he’s advantaged but that doesn’t mean he has ever managed to skip the preparation part. If he’s considered lucky after winning 7 Tour De France races well then it’s because he’s put in the most prep.