All of us want to be performing at the best of our abilities. We spend so much time and do whatever it takes to become great.
However, there is a dilemma that maybe achieving greatness isn't possible. Could it be that you aren't actually smart or are you just simply dumb?
More importantly, how do you know if you are mediocre? Nobody will admit this, but the truth is that most of us fall into this category. Let us explore this further through three fascinating topics.
1 - The Dunning-Kruger effect
Understanding your competency requires you to accurately analyze what ability level you are at. Psychologically, we usually don’t measure this accurately. This is a theory called the Dunning-Kruger effect.
Essentially there are two types of people.
- People that are unintelligent and think they know everything
- People that are intelligent and think they know nothing.
As I like to say, arrogance is ignorant, and humility goes a long way.
The incompetent are the best
Everybody knows that one person who just knows everything. We respect these people and consider them incredibly talented.
Except, that most likely isn't true. We just assume they know everything because of the way these types of people present themselves. The theory states that people think this way because they don’t know enough to understand how much they don’t know.
The competent are the worst
On the flip side, there are people that think they don’t know anything. This is because they know enough to recognize how much they don’t know. Weird, right?
You could think of yourself as this type of person, but wouldn’t that mean you are the former type? The opposite is also true. Just let that paradox sink in for a few moments.
2 - Mistakes that define us
Sometimes we can be doing really well until we make a few mistakes. It is common for those mistakes to be how we define our talent, especially if it happens regularly.
Recently, I got into a small argument with a peer about employees not doing their job. My response was that most people are mediocre at best and this person disagreed with me.
The whole argument was a little confusing, but it brought up an interesting point. You need to be able to recognize mediocrity in others and admit your mistakes.
Mistakes sometimes happen, but they shouldn’t be a habit. That is why you need to identify and learn how to prevent them.
You want to avoid making mistakes because it hurts your work ethic to become mediocre. The first step you need to take to avoid making mistakes is to find out where they are coming from.
Usually, when you make a mistake, it has to do with mental clarity, which impacts how you approach tasks. I have found that if you can clearly process how you are going to do something, you will be amazing.
3 - Lies about innate abilities
Here is something easy to understand: “you are either born with a talent or not.” Wow, that was harsh, but at least it isn’t true!
You put in the work
There is this misconception that people with extraordinary abilities are naturally gifted. Actually, that isn’t just a misconception, but more so an excuse because people would rather have things given to them on a silver platter.
If you want to get good at something, you need to put in the work that is challenging, uncomfortable, and exhausting. People give up because they either don’t want to put in the work or they believe that they just aren’t born with a gift.
Acquiring incredible abilities requires deliberate practice as explained in the book “Talent is Overrated” by Geoff Colvin.
You are naturally super intelligent
We still have innate talents, except they aren’t what you would expect because they are primal. This includes self-learning, independence, and problem-solving among others.
The sad part is that in our culture we desire to replace those abilities through the use of compulsory schooling. The book “Dumbing Us Down” by John Taylor Gatto touches on this issue incredibly well if you are interested.
This may come across as discouraging, which is why it is important to develop your natural smarts through your own self-practice learning. Kathy Koch clearly explains these natural smarts in her book called the “8 Great Smarts”.
Additionally, I find it very impactful to study your Myers-Briggs temperament because it will help you understand yourself. My favorite book on this topic is called “Innerkinetics” by Ray W Lincoln.
Are you mediocre? The truth is, we all are until we make it a goal not to be. That is why I hope that you walk away from this blog post with a plan to become a better overall person.
If you are really passionate about becoming your best then I highly recommend reading all the books that I mentioned throughout this post.
- “Talent is Overrated” by Geoff Colvin
- "Dumbing Us Down” by John Taylor Gatto
- “8 Great Smarts” by Kathy Koch, PhD
- “Innerkinetics” by Ray W Lincoln
All of these books helped me immensely, and I believe they can help you too!