No, You Shouldn’t Be Okay With A Mediocre Life

If one more, well, mediocre person I know shares the January blog post, “What If All I Want Is A Mediocre Life?” I’m gonna choke the mediocre life right out of him/her. As with most Facebook shares, I’m guessing that at least fifty people didn’t even read the post, but simply saw the title as an excuse for their own lamentable mediocrity and clicked “Share” without a moment’s hesitation. “Yes! I’m a MOM and a TEACHER and I’m PROUD OF IT!” Well, okay, then. Your biggest accomplishments are a biological act and having a career that is typically chosen by the stupidest college students. Congrats, you’re even less than mediocre!

The first thing that you should know about this blog post was that it was written by Krista O’Reilly-Davi-Dagui (I can’t begin to understand how that name was generated), who is a Certified Holistic Nutritional Consultant™ & Joyful Living Educator. This is Not a Real Fucking Job. And the trademark is the author’s, not mine.

But let’s get past the ad hominem attacks and get to the meat of the post, shall we? Yeah, let’s.

Krista writes:

The world is such a noisy place. Loud, haranguing voices lecturing me to hustle, to improve, build, strive, yearn, acquire, compete, and grasp for more. For bigger and better. Sacrifice sleep for productivity. Strive for excellence. Go big or go home. Have a huge impact in the world. Make your life count.

But what if I just don’t have it in me. What if all the striving for excellence leaves me sad, worn out, depleted. Drained of joy. Am I simply not enough?

 

Yes, the world is noisy, and that can be bothersome. Solid point. And even Henry Ford knew that working longer than eight hours in a day was likely to decrease a worker’s productivity—he didn’t establish the 9 to 5 workday out of the goodness of his heart, you know?

I understand, on some level, what Krista’s saying: she doesn’t feel the need to be great, and she doesn’t want to be judged because of it. Krista, I have bad news: we’re gonna judge you. Humans judge each other. I can’t put up a picture of myself or write a single word on the internet without somebody judging it. Hell, I can’t walk out into the world without somebody judging me. It’s life. It’s reality.

And at the risk of sounding like somebody thirty years my senior, what she’s trying to get me and you and everybody else to accept is exactly what is wrong with America. In fact, it’s exactly what has caused this generation of people entering the workforce to be nearly completely useless and unemployable.

There’s much handwringing about Generations Y and Z, but we don’t give nearly enough blame to the people who sired them. People like Krista have raised an entire nation of people who think that having a tattoo is an accomplishment. They are currently out en masse #resisting a democratically elected president because they don’t want America to be great. They have been told that they don’t need to strive for excellence.

And while, as a parent, I can wholeheartedly support this bullshit because it nearly eliminates the competitive environment for my children, I’m saddened to know that they’ll be forced to work alongside these people who want a 30 hour work week, a “fair living wage,” and full benefits simply because they desire a mediocre life. Even worse, I’m saddened that they’ll be shamed into being mediocre themselves, because modern society loves nothing more than to drag down the exceptional. Why? Fear.

The truth behind living a mediocre life isn’t that people are satisfied with mediocrity. It’s that they’re terrified of what it might take to be great. It’s so much easier to say that they didn’t try, than to say that they tried and failed.

I tried to be a great saxophonist at one point in my life. I failed. I was merely very good. Good enough to get a full scholarship. Good enough to tour with some big acts. Good enough to pay (most of) the bills. But not a world-renowned artist. I never got to lead a band at the Village Vanguard. I never recorded a major label record. In many ways, it’s the greatest failure of my life. But, damnit, I tried. And there’s some honor in that.

There’s honor in coming in early and staying late. There’s honor in working harder than the guy next to you. There’s honor in putting your best work out there for the world to see, whether it’s on a relatively minor car blog in the corner of the internet, a PowerPoint presentation for the board, or forever immortalized in digital form on a compact disc/MP3/whatever the kids are listening to nowadays. There’s honor in failing on a massive scale because you put everything you had into trying to be better than mediocre.

To be mediocre is to tell the world that it doesn’t deserve your best efforts. It’s telling your children that they don’t have to give their employer, their family, or themselves their best. Hell, it’s telling yourself that you don’t deserve your best.

And you know what? There’s every chance that you’ll end up being mediocre anyway, even if you try to be great. Lord knows that I’ve tried and failed at many more things that I’ve succeeded at. But there’s also a chance, however slim, that you’ll be great. You deserve that chance. Your family deserves that chance.

If you want to be a writer, go be one. Want to climb the ladder? Do it. Want to be the best mom possible? Hell, yeah! I got your back, even if, or more likely, when you fail. Want to be mediocre? I have no time for you. Neither does the rest of the adult world. And that’s not our fault. It’s yours.

 

136 Replies to “No, You Shouldn’t Be Okay With A Mediocre Life”

  1. Dirty Dingus McGee

    The only ones who never fail, are those that never try. And a mediocre person is the one who is likely to never fail.

    Reply
  2. Charlie

    The worst part of this affliction is when you have to work downstream from somebody that doesn’t put in any effort. It’s difficult to remain not jaded when you’ve gotta do the work of a mediocre co-worker. It’s similarly difficult to work at a business where the culture from the administration is one of mediocrity. It’s really surprising the extent of people’s capacity for outputting the bare-minimum required effort. What’s worse is when the mediocre output actually took more effort than doing it the right way the first time.

    Reply
  3. Bruno Jácomo Balestra Simões de Lima

    I absolutely agree. This idea of eliminating competition is absolutely nonsensical and is bound to bring “modern” society back to Soviet Russia levels of development: happening more from orders from above than from natural competition.

    Reply
  4. Max Hoffman

    It says far more about the author that she thinks a life with a 9-5, caring for her family etc is “mediocre”, as opposed, say, being famous and wealthy. She doesn’t actually want a mediocre life, she just wants to be let off the hook – probably by herself more than by other people – for not being rich or famous or both. This is 21st century narcissism, and The Last Psychiatrist explains it better than I ever could.

    Reply
  5. ComfortablyNumb

    Right on. I try to explain this to my kids, but it’s difficult because they don’t know what grown-up mediocrity looks like. They see us kicking back with a glass of wine or playing catch with them in the evening, but they don’t see us grinding through our workdays, doing the dishes and laundry after they’re in bed…all those things that make their life great. That disconnect can’t really be resolved until they have a paying job and can see the benefits of work done exceptionally well and work done just well enough. Compensated chores help, but those jobs typically allow for some mediocrity, so the lesson doesn’t really have much gravity. My kids are fortunate that they received my abysmal sporting and musical abilities, so those are good surrogates. They struggle, they try, they often fail, just like I did. But then one day they hit a triple or win a challenge for 3rd chair trumpet, and they appreciate that pushing harder has tangible benefits. At least that’s what I’m hoping for.

    Reply
  6. VoGo

    I’m just happy to see that the internet features a never ending stream of women for the Baruth brothers to attack from the high redoubt of their digital man cave.

    PLEASE can Gwyneth Paltrow be next? Or any actress from Girls? Or Elizabeth Warren?

    Like fat kids in an infinite cake shop.

    Reply
    • Jack BaruthJack Baruth

      This criticism would be a little more valid if I didn’t spend my professional life attacking men. Where’s your concern for Richard Truett or Dutch Mantel or Jonny Lieberman or Ed Loh or any of the dozen other non-women I’ve criticized recently? Are women special? Should they be treated differently?

      Reply
      • VoGo

        Seriously!
        – blue collar roots? check
        – worked her way up by the bootstraps? check
        – brilliant university professor? check
        – champion of working class people? check
        – overwhelming favorite of her state? check
        Senator Warren is EVERYTHING the alt right loves to vilify.

        Reply
        • Jack BaruthJack Baruth

          What’s interesting about her career is that you couldn’t do it today. She was a housewife and had a bachelors degree in speech pathology. She enrolled in Rutgers on a whim. That’s less a comment about her than it is about changing times.

          Reply
          • VoGo

            Times certainly are changing. If I got around to writing it, would you consider publishing on RG an editorial on predictions on the future of the car industry, and their impact on employment?

    • Ronnie Schreiber

      I’m just happy to see that the internet features a never ending stream of perceived microaggressions to allow VoGo to virtue signal and white knight.

      Like fat kids in an infinite cake shop.

      Fat shaming now? I guess when one is cruel it’s hard to hide it.

      Reply
  7. VoGo

    Jack,
    I see that you are countering my observation by citing work you did for a site that banned me for calling you out for belittling of women in one of your articles. You see the irony here?

    Putting that aside, the males you cite above are auto journalists, like yourself. Competitors, even. Whereas with women, you are happy to open the aperture to include any job category, be it business executive, joyful living educator, or actress.

    I’m just saying that the Baruth writing style increasingly looks like it’s open season on the ladies. If you want to make the big bucks, I hear Fox has some openings available.

    Reply
    • Disinterested-Observer

      The only reason I would like to see ads on this site is so that your dumb, worthless, nothing to say ass will pay these guys for your stupid comments.

      Reply
    • Bark M Post author

      Dear VoGo,

      Didn’t you say you were leaving?

      Secondly, where’s your criticism for our dear Lizzie, who’s far more cutting in her criticism of women in the article directly below this one?

      Thirdly, nobody here is impressed by your white knighting.

      Lastly, you weren’t banned from TTAC for “calling out belittling of women.” You were banned for being a dipshit troll who called my brother a pedophile for being married to a woman in her late thirties.

      The only reason I haven’t banned you from THIS site is because your stupidity and predictable SJW positions are a source of amusement to everybody here.

      Reply
        • VoGo

          Bark,
          1. I don’t recall saying I was leaving here; but again, if you’d like me to, I will. I have continued to come here a couple of times a week in the hope that dialog among competing ideas will improve our discourse, and ultimately, our nation.

          I try hard to understand the perspectives you and Jack bring. I would ask that you in turn try to understand the ideas I advocate, even when they differ from your own. Especially when they differ from your own. Too quickly we resort to labels – I prefer we debate the ideas.

          2. I never called your brother a pedophile at TTAC. I did call him out for bragging about being married to a girl, rather than a woman. Language matters.

          Reply
    • Jack BaruthJack Baruth

      As I recall, Mark banned you for calling me a pedophile. And you’re grasping at straws now — if I read your assertion correctly, you are stating that I am critical of men whom I can actually injure and/or impair with that criticism but that I save my criticism of women for multi-millionaires who are immune to my opinion and who are unaffected by it. That sounds positively like the kind of thing a “perfect gentleman” would do.

      If you can produce any evidence for the assertion that even half of the critical things I write are aimed at women, I’ll apologize to women in general and you, their ally, in particular.

      Reply
      • VoGo

        Jack,
        1. I never called you a pedophile. I feel confident you are not one. See above. I called you out for your language, i.e., bragging about being married to a girl, rather than a woman.

        2. I in no way think that you criticize other auto journalists because you intend to injure or impair them. I suppose that is possible in that you occasionally drive on a track near them and could push their car off the track, but in my wildest dreams, I never imagined you would try to hurt a fellow writer.

        3. I really am creeped out that you think I believe you are a child molester or trying to hurt Johnny Lieberman (his TTAC RS4 review remains an all time favorite). I will be reviewing what I have written to try to understand where that came from, because it was never the intent.

        4. In regards to your criticisms of women, I don’t have evidence that most of your bashing is of women, and I don’t have the free time or the interest to catalog your writing. You are correct in that you are critical of many people; I was just noting lately that it seems more focused on women. That may reflect my own bias as much as yours.

        5. Your criticism of Sandberg of course means nothing to her. If she is aware of it, I’m sure her skin is sufficiently thick to brush it off. The message wasn’t meant for her; it’s red meat for your typical readers.

        But I would ask you to think about the impact that constantly seeing criticisms like this of women who dare to be successful has on young women. As in, this is what people really think of women who dare to be more than mediocre, and this is the criticism you should expect for working your tail off to achieve one of the most public and challenging roles the private sector.

        Jack, if you regularly criticized men who were in roles like Sandberg’s, or who wrote a book about their personal tragedy, or who were guests on The View or The Talk or whatever these shows are, then I’d say fine. But Sandberg is one of the very few women who are at the top of the ladder in the private sector, and I just think it odd you went after her.

        6. I am not the “ally of women”, and don’t view myself as anything other than a middle aged white guy who spends too much time on the internet when he should be working.

        Reply
        • Jack BaruthJack Baruth

          1. You seem awfully hung up on this “girl” vs. “woman” thing. Were the “Spice Girls” under 18? When the Harvard Business Review refers to women who have completed their masters’ degrees as girls, did you write in protest?

          2. “Injure or impair” doesn’t just mean physically. When Michael Karesh said that I had “injured” him with my comments regarding TrueDelta, he didn’t mean that I drove to his house and punched him. It’s possible for me to cause damage to the careers of journalists in this business by criticizing or lampooning them. This is well understood inside our little bubble.

          3. If you say so.

          4. I criticize men far more often than I criticize women.

          5. The question is why the article would be “red meat” for my readers. Is it because they don’t like women? Because they don’t like phonies? Because they are amused by arrant narcissism in the public sphere? When I write “red meat” for my readers concerning the rock music of the Seventies, is it “red meat” because Donald Fagen is male?

          As for your point regarding the impact of public criticism… what about all the opprobrium heaped on everybody from Ronald Reagan to Elon Musk to Howard Dean to Donald Trump? Does anybody wring their hands about the possible impact that such commentary might have on boys? Of course not. To imply that the same is not true of young women implies that they are “different” at best and “weaker” at worst.

          6. This part is up to you.

          Reply
          • VoGo

            1. Perhaps I am hung up.. But I do think language matters. Don’t you? We as a society figured out that calling black men “boy” was demeaning. I don’t see this as different.

            2. OK. Now I see your point on injury being non-physical; I’m not up on the latest in the Karesh hissy fit saga. Like you note on #6, if you choose to attack your fellow auto journalists, then that’s up to you. My point was just that any public woman seems fair game for you whereas you only listed fellow auto journalists as men you attack.

            5. Yes, men in the public eye are also criticized. Look who is in the public eye this week: Bill O’Reilly, Michael Flynn and Donald Trump. So a sexual predator, a guy who was recently our head of National Security and apparently was in Russia’s pocket, and well, Donald Trump.
            But you chose to take aim at a tech COO who wrote a book about rebounding from her husband’s death. At least own your choice.

          • Jack BaruthJack Baruth

            1. Of course language matters. But if my wife refers to herself as “Danger Girl” and has a license plate stating that, am I supposed to decide that I know what’s best for her and call her “Danger Woman” regardless? Isn’t that the very definition of paternalistic, sexist behavior?

            2. Correct. There are multiple female auto journalists whose work is alternately contemptible and repugnant. By and large, I give them a pass. You could argue that is sexist of me to do so.

            5. So an award-winning author, a respected statesman, the elected President of our country, and a woman who made a billion dollars selling your personal information to corporations, invading your privacy, and manipulating you into using a service that has been scientifically shown to make people unhappy. Is that what you meant to say?

  8. Tony LaHood

    Well said, Jack. From affirmative action to participation trophies, this nation has sacrificed excellence upon the altar of equality. The result is that we are, in aggregate, mediocre. Welcome to the new normal.

    PS: I’d have banned VoGo long ago. Your patience impresses me.

    Reply
      • VoGo

        Tony,
        Can you explain how treating people fairly causes mediocrity? I would have thought that an even playing field brings out the best in people.

        Reply
        • Tony LaHood

          You must distinguish between fairness and favoritism. I believe equal opportunity should be guaranteed, but not equal outcome. If all accomplishments, both real or perceived, are considered equally important, then what incentive is there to do anything other than the minimum? Why not discontinue the Nobel Prize because it diminshes the value of the work done by those who don’t win, and they worked really, really hard and that would hurt their feelings. I judge people as individuals, not as members of groups. I welcome your rebuttal.

          Reply
        • Cdotson

          Normally I wouldn’t wage into such an argument, but your comment illustrates a fundamental difference in life philosophy that comprises the undercurrent of strive between the two sides:

          ” I would have thought that an even playing field brings out the best in people.”

          BULLSHIT. Adversity brings out the best in people. Necessity is the mother of invention. The need to overcome drives individuals to do and be more than they have been. Artificially evening the playing field places obstacles in the path of those who have already shown greater willingness or aptitude at excelling while removing those motivating obstacles from the path of those less able or interested. This widens and perpetuates the underlying problem.

          Life isn’t fair, playing fields are not all level. “Evening” them requires artificial intervention which requires uneven distribution of power between those evening the field and the players. You can’t honestly believe in an even playing field, you believe your hands (or another’s of your ilk) should be on the levers tilting the field in whatever direction you will.

          Reply
          • VoGo

            DirtRoads,
            Tony and Cdotson have opinions and state them well. That’s cool. I don’t entirely agree with every word, but I also don’t feel compelled to nitpick every detail. I respect that they took the time and thought to put words on the page.

            I contrast their behavior to several others in RG. Who just on this one thread have insulted me repeatedly as an SJW, Sea Lion bot, a pansy and someone “with nothing useful to offer”.

            When people have to resort to insults, it typically means their arguments have failed. And I’m thick skinned. The adversity does not phase me, perhaps validating Cdotson’s point above.

  9. Jeff Zekas

    My youngest son, raised by us to work hard, just got back from Southeast Asia. His comment: “They have an expression, which translated means: good enough… but THAT is the fuc@in problem! They just do it good enough, not great! So everything made over there is crap!”

    Reply
  10. Yamahog

    The opposite of mediocre isn’t ‘competitive’, it’s exceptional.

    You say competition is great, but you muse about letting people buy into mediocracy for their children so your kids have easier competitors. Maybe that’s the case, but if your kids require competition to become exceptional, you need to put them in the most challenging environment and you would ruin the playing field by stacking it with weak competitors.

    The corrosive part of competition is that it makes it hard to do the experimentation that’s critical to progress.

    And why don’t you pray for more competition? You’re a father with two kids at home, imagine someone without that much responsibility gunning for your position. Heck, there’s probably someone begging on the streets of Bombay who would hunt down you down like the terminator if (s)he could secure the right to earn a living in America.

    Reply
  11. 1A

    OK, I’ve been a big supporter of your ranting and Freedom of Speech displays, but attacking the teaching profession? That’s a bit -low-. Comments like yours are exactly why I left the Education department at college. I wasn’t even a full-fledged teacher before I tired of the anti-teacher comments I heard from family, society, media, etc. So before you post a run-in with a “stupid” teacher, you can thank yourself for alienating the best and brightest who wanted to make a difference in your child’s life.

    Reply
    • Jeff Zekas

      You hate anti teacher rants? Try being a cop, and listening to anti cop rants. According to BLM, all cops are racist-nazi-fascist-killers. End of discussion. There is no discourse, cos all classes of society hate cops, if for no other reason, than that speeding ticket your wife got last week. Not so strangely, when some cops ran into a burning trailer and rescued two people from certain death, it never made the front page. That’s because ALL mainstream news is “fake news”. And teachers? Well, when you pay teachers less than the clerks at Whole Foods Market, then you tend to get the less qualified applicants from the labour pool: that’s basic Econ 101.

      Reply
      • 1A

        Dude, stick to the topic at hand. Nowhere did I mention anything cop-related. I’m a huge cop supporter, which is partly why I voted for Trump (self-professed “Law-and-Order candidate”). And if you want to debate Econ, go ahead–that’s my other major. Until then, go back to second grade and be more attentive to the teacher leading the lesson on “What is the main point of this paragraph?”.

        Reply
        • VoGo

          Yeah, I don’t see the point in attacking the teaching profession, especially when your “data” is from 1952. How many people are teaching 65 years after college?

          I also think it’s sad to see BLM attacked as viewing cops as “racist-nazi-facsist killers.” I’m sure a few people in the movement said a few things out of context, but the vast majority of people just want to see our citizens treated with equal respect. Likewise, I think the vast majority of LEOs want the same. This kind of blaming is unhelpful.

          Let’s get back to the topic at hand, which is that there is a woman with an odd name and odd job category who has the audacity to write that she wants to be mediocre.

          Reply
          • Bark M Post author

            The data isn’t from 1952. Try reading the article past the first paragraph, Professor.

          • VoGo

            I read the article. A lot of the data is from 1951 and 1952, and some is more recent. The summary of the article is that talent follows the money. This is surprising?

      • Ronnie Schreiber

        Teachers are very well paid, compared to other similarly educated professionals like accountants, when you consider the number of hours they spend working.

        My sister just retired from the NYC public school system. She’s driven Lincolns and Cadillacs for years.

        I will say that before feminists decided that women were better off being lawyers, society benefited from the fact that some very smart women went into education. I had a number of superb female teachers through high school. All but two of my science and math teachers were women.

        What Bark didn’t say about the relative intelligence of education majors is that while ed majors tend to perform worse on standardized tests, they also tend to get better grades, which to me says that the entire education industry is based on mediocrity, where they hand out good grades like gluten and GMO free candy.

        The average grade in the Ivy League is now an A-. That means if potential employees comes to you from Columbia with 3.7 GPAs that means they’re really C students.

        For the record, my sister Susie is one of the smartest people that I know. Unfortunately she’s likely to be the exception among today’s public school teachers.

        Reply
        • 1A

          Hi Ronnie. My comment wasn’t about teacher pay–that is an entirely different subject (which wasn’t mentioned by the author either, unless that was a large swath I skipped over [rather lengthy articles here, ramble ramble ramble]). That being said, your sister worked in the highest paying state and district in the nation (I’m sure that’s changed now, however)—it’s not surprising she had a nice car. Maybe she stayed home instead of eating at fancy restaurants? Maybe she had a rent-controlled apartment? Maybe she had a successful husband? Maybe she bought the cars used? There’s a lot you left out, other than her automotive tastes.
          “Unfortunately she’s likely to be the exception among today’s public school teachers.” — do you have any reason for saying that?
          NYC has several different ways for non-Education majors to teach. Maybe some of the big mouths here should give it a whirl! Start with The Bronx, boys!
          P.S. I had hoped you would chime in; I’ve liked a few of your comments here.

          Reply
    • ComfortablyNumb

      He didn’t attack the profession, he linked some data that shows that many stupid people choose to be teachers, which, tragically, is true. My wife is a teacher, and she’s brilliant and immensely dedicated to the progress and well-being of her students. Unfortunately, she stands out among her colleagues. Most of the them just became teachers because they get summers off and they’re generally guaranteed to be smarter than their “peers”.

      Reply
      • 1A

        You’re not helping his case. “Career with the stupidest college students” isn’t exactly being gracious. He was demeaning the profession. This is where some psychology courses would do you both some good. “Stupidest”?–they’re not exactly stupid, they’re simply the lowest on the rung of those mentioned in this cherry-picked article. Also, let’s study up on some Logic. Isn’t it more discernible that someone choosing a career teaching eight-year olds might not have the same mathematical aptitude as someone choosing a career in, say, Aerospace Technology? Unreal.

        Reply
        • ComfortablyNumb

          “Isn’t it more discernible that someone choosing a career teaching eight-year olds might not have the same mathematical aptitude as someone choosing a career in, say, Aerospace Technology?”

          Most definitely. Some choose the teaching profession because it fits their academic abilities AND they have other qualifications that allow them to be great teachers, like Herculean patience and a nurturing attitude. But some choose the profession because it’s easy. Those are the “stupid” ones, and from my experience, there are an awful lot of them. Nobody is saying that all teachers are stupid, just that lots of stupid people choose to be teachers. The article even says that “the data presented looks only at group averages and does not speak to the aptitude of specific individuals. Obviously there are people with high academic aptitude in every major”.

          Reply
      • VoGo

        Because by definition something that is true (or at least, the subject of an article on the internet) cannot be an attack?

        Reply
      • 1A

        Education majors rated *two points* below Business & Commerce majors (eh hem, THOSE RULING THE WORLD) in this “test” in 1946 (the first display [article is worded horribly]). My grandmother was in “teaching school” in this same period actually, and I can assure you, her goal was not to be the smartest bitch on the block with National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics certifications, or to impress men like you. Your nasty choice of words were indeed an attack, and if you are interested in introspection as you’ve hinted at before, you should look a bit deeper for the cause. She kept a Bible on her desk in that one-room schoolhouse where she taught eight grades–start there.

        Reply
        • Jack BaruthJack Baruth

          Gentlemen,

          Let’s take a moment here to recall the fact that Bark is married to an educator in a profession, and a school system, that is not exactly known for intellectual accomplishment. Our sainted mother also worked as a French teacher in the Catholic school system for a few years. I don’t think it’s Bark’s intent to express unfettered contempt for educators. Like it or not, at modern universities you tend to have a bit of a distinction in capability between the people who choose physics or bio-chem and the people who choose education. This makes sense. There’s no reason to have Richard Feynman teaching second grade. He’d also probably be lousy at it.

          Reply
          • Ronnie Schreiber

            I’m not so sure about that. Feynman had a childlike wonder at the world and a sense of humor considered immature by some (his autobiographical book is titled Surely Your Joking, Mr. Feynman). He also had a talent for explaining difficult things and taught for a living so he might have made a fine elementary school teacher.

            Whether or not it would have been a waste of his talents, I think Mr. Feynman would have relished the challenge.

  12. Arbuckle

    Contentment with being lazy or mediocre is bad but there is no honor or greatness in spending your life wageslaving to Initech and the corporate overlords.

    Reply
    • hank chinaski

      Yes, this. The article title evokes those detestable corporate motivational posters. Lickspittle cronies above, deadwood diversity hires to carry laterally, and then 40% off the top at the end to pay for gibs.
      As it becomes more difficult to sustain oneself self-employed, and to become ‘excellent’ while avoiding doing the sorts of things that keep non-sociopaths up at night, fulfillment is best pursued elsewhere.
      Hopefully, that elsewhere is something more productive than leveling a WoW character, having the world’s cleanest ’87 CRX, or becoming the most disliked sea lion at RG.

      Reply
  13. Crancast

    Bark,
    Fair and solid points as a counter balance. But you really lost me with this piece starting out attacking teachers in general. Did not help your point, makes the content after that less credible regardless of whether it was largely meant from an attack on the original piece.

    I am not a teacher, zero interest in that as a career. But the many who are career teachers fight through massive amounts of BS (Lizzie’s HBIC and crew), administrators, PC silliness, underfunding, special needs kids, and – well the list goes on for a while. A good teacher very well could have been a not-great student themselves.

    Reply
  14. Zykotec

    Without having read the source material, I think you are dead wrong, or you’re just missing the point completely. Yes, people should strive to do better, but to many ‘mediocre’ is already better that their current situation.
    The people who are ‘mediocre’ in the eyes of the ‘succesful’ ones today are ‘ordinary’ people. People who actually have to work for a living (if they’re lucky enough to get a job), and who struggle to get the recomended 8 hours of sleep everyday in between trying to look decent on facebook and instagram, raising kids, doing their work to an acceptable standard, washing their car once a month and keeping up with the kids football and choir practices. The people who don’t look perfect, who don’t carry a minidog in a designerpurse and who doesn’t work out 14 hours a week.
    Mediocre people can’t post perfectly made cookie pictures three times a week, in between the perfect flat stomach pictures, the fancy dress party pictures, the luxury car pictures, the holiday in the Caribbean pictures and the pictures of when they met whatever celebrity it is that they randomly met at some place that charges more for a meal than I would comfortably pay for a set of tires.
    Mediocrity is certainly not good enough for the PTA ‘mean girls’ crowd, who can brag about how many thousand dollars their perfect son raised fot the new school playground. And ‘successful people’ don’t drive Fords (ok, maybe a Foose built ’37, or an original Ford GT40) Or Hondas for that matter.
    Mediocrity for those who are considered ‘successful’ by modern social media standards is not even remotely possible to achieve for the large majority of Americans. Mediocrity should definitely be good enough for a lot of people.

    And the election is over, stop acting like anyone still thinks Trump was a good idea. You could have almost voted for any other reality show celeb and gotten a better president. Why not Judge Judy or dr Phil, or that guy from Extreme makeover: Home edition? He would (literally?) be perfect for the job. Even some of the guys on the bachelorette are probably less useless (ok, ok, I take that back).
    Or fix that stupid law that says Schwarzenegger can’t be president. Demolition man was right about so many other things, let them be right about that one too.

    Reply
      • Zykotec

        Ok, I did, and I still think I was right, thanks 🙂
        Back in the 90’s I played some role playing games where you make a character on a character sheet with a given amount of points to use on different stats. More points on charisma gives you less points to use on strength and weaponry skill, or vice versa. So you get a bunch of very different characters with exactly the same amount of basic skill points.
        And real people are normally like that.
        People who look good can often seem a bit less intelligent, people who write well tend to have horrible taste in hairdos and jackets, people who make good music tend to have weird sexual preferences and have problems controlling their use of certain substances. Successful leaders and racers tend to be psycopaths. People who study dinosaurs their whole life usually don’t do crossfit and post pictures of their perfect abs on instagram. Some car journalists could never change a cambelt or clutch or replace the roof of their own home. And good fathers can be awful employees and lovers.
        I know a lot of people who are really really good at one thing, and downright suck at almost every other aspect of life. And very few people seem to accept that this is perfectly normal.
        You don’t have to ‘settle’ for being a mediocre musician, or a mediocre father, or a mediocre writer or have a mediocre career. But you also can’t spend every waking moment trying to be perfect at everything.
        We all have a more or less finite number of skill points. Deal with it the way you want.
        Heck, ‘settling for mediocrity’ may even have the unintended sideeffect that you spend more time with your kids or SO or listen more to your old parents or the neighbours. So you end up being a better than mediocre parent or son or friend.
        And this extends everywhere. BMW don’t ‘settle’ for mediocrity when it comes to handling or design, and still CR give higher ratings to Toyotas with 1/3 of the horsepower. And still, most BMW’s seem pretty mediocre compared to most McLarens.
        Some people just want to be a Rav4 or a CR-V. Or a Flex…

        The leased X3s and Q5s in the PTA will probably never think you’re good enough no matter what.

        Reply
        • Bark M Post author

          I’m not saying you should have to be great at everything. I’m saying you should aspire to be great at something.

          Reply
          • silentsod

            They are on the low end of intelligence for people who receive degrees; don’t be upset by what the numbers say.

            Likewise, a bachelor’s degree has an average IQ of 116 (? IIRC), a Master’s is at 120 or so and a Phd 127 and that is across all different areas of study.

          • 1A

            @sod
            I’m not upset with numbers. I like numbers. And to be honest, I’m beyond your IQ numbers listed. Don’t hate the numbers!
            I guess maybe some of you teacher-hating individuals are writing in from Florida or Kentucky (or was it West Virginia, Baruths?). I come from a state that values education. You wouldn’t believe the number of applicants for each teaching position that opens up–BIG LEAGUE! Unlike states such as Florida where they have to beg people to become teachers. Maybe y’all should look into cleaning up your states, huh?

          • Bark M Post author

            Facts don’t care about your feelings.

            Teachers have the lowest GPA of any college major, too. So not only are they drawn to the easiest coursework, they’re also very bad at it.

          • Jack BaruthJack Baruth

            Interestingly enough, in Ohio where the school districts are funded with property taxes, there is a wide diversity of opportunity and talent.

            My first wife graduated in 1993 with a degree in elementary education. (Part of the reason I’m mostly staying out of this discussion.) Columbus City Schools, the student body of which is mostly African-American and on food stamps, would have hired her immediately for $28k/yr. Dublin City Schools, the hoity-toity 98% white district where Bark and I went to high school, paid $22k. They had a waiting list for positions that was… wait for it… four thousand people long. The only way to get on that waiting list was to agree that you would be a substitute teacher at $50/day for at least a year before taking whatever position they offered to you when they got around to it.

            Crazy, huh?

          • 1A

            “Facts don’t care about your feelings.

            Teachers have the lowest GPA of any college major, too. So not only are they drawn to the easiest coursework, they’re also very bad at it.”

            What you wrote is complete and absolute bullshit. Please cite one source indicating such. I went to one of the highest-ranked schools for Education and I’m here to call out each and every bit of bullshit you blow out your ass.

            —– THE TRUTH, REGARDLESS OF YOUR INNER ISSUES/”FEELINGS”, IS THAT EDUCATION MAJORS HAVE ONE OF THE HIGHEST GPAs OF ANY MAJOR. STEM MAJORS HAVE THE LOWEST GPAs. —–

          • 1A

            Source:
            http://projects.dailycal.org/grades/ (UC Berkeley)
            Biology – 2.80
            Education – 3.68

            Source:
            http://www.cbsnews.com/news/5-hardest-and-easiest-college-majors-by-gpas/
            *5 Lowest Grade Point Averages: Chemistry – 2.78 GPA, Math – 2.90 GPA, Economics – 2.95 GPA, Psychology – 2.98 GPA, Biology – 3.02 GPA
            *5 Highest Grade Point Averages: —–Education – 3.36 GPA—–, Language – 3.34 GPA, English – 3.33 GPA, Music – 3.30 GPA, Religion – 3.22 GPA

          • everybodyhatesscott

            Bark, I agree with your overall assessment of teachers and I think it’s basically glorified overpaid babysitting till at least 6th grade, that article shows teachers have higher GPA’s than the harder majors. Obviously, it’s because biology is harder than figuring out which color is red.

            To the other guy
            And the response to ‘teachers aren’t smart but i’m a teacher and I’m not smart so it can’t be true!’ does not suggest one is as good with numbers and sample size as one thinks

          • Bark M Post author

            Again, they perform incredibly well inside their major coursework because it’s simple and easy. Outside their majors, they struggle.

            And, again, I was an Education major. I took these easy classes. They were a joke.

            Lastly, think of the ten stupidest girls you went to high school with. Look them up on Facebook. Come back and tell me how many are teachers. In my case, it’s seven of ten.

          • zykotec

            And I think I’m saying there’s to much pressure today for everyone to be great at something. To many people who are short on talent and imagination work their asses off to be better than someone they shouldn’t be competing with in the first place. (tortoises are not really as fast as hares and all that)
            On the other hand, people who do have a talent and imagination and ambitions should not be wasting our talent away in a warehouse stealing the jobs of people who often have no other choices in life.
            I hate how even how much I disagree with many of the things you write (that are not about cars) you always make me think for some reason.

          • 1A

            Keep digging. I proved you WRONG, and yes I shouted it from the rooftop because you’re too thick to acknowledge it and learn from it. The links I posted prove your statement was, in fact, FALSE.
            “Teachers have the lowest GPA of any college major, too. So not only are they drawn to the easiest coursework, they’re also very bad at it.” — everything you said there, in fact, is FALSE.
            You can try to fudge your way out of it, but it isn’t working. Zero respect for a liar (not that you care for my opinion).

            I thought you were a “music education” major, now it’s Education major? Music education major = music major + a few education courses. Why aren’t you teaching? Couldn’t cut the mustard?

            If Scott is referring to me as being a dumb teacher, he’s mistaken. I never said I was a teacher. I said I left the Education department in college (I also said my IQ was higher than the PhD category listed). Starting salary $30k to deal with works of art like you guys? No thanks. To your safe-space blog-o-sphere and rant about society!! P.S. Take a long look in the mirror–it’s you.

          • Bark M Post author

            Christ. Teachers have the lowest test scores and the lowest out-of-major GPAs. This isn’t hard. And the fact that you’re defending education majors by pointing out how easy coursework is…well, that’s an interesting argument.

            And you’re completely wrong about Music Ed coursework. But I’ll clarify. I was a double major in Jazz Performance and Instrumental Music Education. Music Ed is actually a mite bit more strenuous than Secondary or Elementary Ed. In Ohio, you have to be certified to teach K-12, so you have to take both the Elementary and Secondary methods.

            I’m not teaching because:

            A) I preferred performing to educating. I was told by my father that if I did not double in Music Ed, that he would not financially support me. While I had a full tuition scholarship, he was still paying my car, insurance, etc., so I agreed to do it. My heart was never in it.
            B) I was advised by my cooperating teacher that I was too intense and too passionate about Music to teach it to children.
            C) the department was inflexible with my desire to be a touring musician and required MWF attendance at classes, and I was too busy headlining the Monterey Bay Blues Festival. I left school six classes and two quarters short of graduation.
            D) in the eyes of performing musicians, teaching is a fallback in case you don’t make it. Nobody who has a performance major/degree ever WANTS to teach. It’s a safety blanket.
            E) Even with all that being said, I still taught several private students after leaving school to pick up some extra cash while I was trying to “MAEK IT.” All of them got full performance scholarships to top schools like Oberlin, CCM, and Eastman.

          • VoGo

            1A,
            Keep in mind the timeless expression: “Those who can’t do, teach. Those who can’t teach, write screeds insulting people and blaming the world for their problems.”

            That may seem like an attack, but it’s not, because it’s true.

          • Bark M Post author

            And those who can’t write screeds troll the comments sections of people who can.

          • 1A

            @Jack
            Uh, Dublin City Schools has, what, 1500 teachers? The fact that 4000 people applied in advance for those positions = 2.67 applicants/job. Lulz. Try living in a desirable, rural location where towns themselves are 1500-2000, and 200 applicants want one teaching job (unlike metro Columbus population 2,000,000 [of course lots of applicants will apply!]). Lulz. And I’m using the rate from 1993 also. There were “too many” teachers at the time, supposedly. Just like nurses. Then there aren’t enough.

          • Jack BaruthJack Baruth

            I don’t think we are understanding each other. That wait list was for a district that hired maybe 25 new teachers a year. Which is to say that it was effectively infinite for most of the people on it.

            A significant number of would be teachers including my first wife decided they’d rather work a real job than wait twenty years for a shot at a suburban school gig in Ohio. I still think it’s safe to say that there is an oversupply of qualified teachers for any school district in which violence is not common.

            I don’t know what constitutes a desirable suburb as opposed to a rust belt suburb. The WSJ once called my home town of Powell one of America’s top fifty suburbs. It’s possible that they were throwing a bone to the hicks.

          • silentsod

            @1A you are assuming that the 4000 person long wait list applies equally for all 1500 jobs. It is extremely unlikely that is actually the case so your assumption of ~2.67 applicants per position is also extremely unlikely. If they had a high yearly churn of 10% that is 26.7 applications per position, a low churn at 4% is 89 applicants per position which at least provides a semi-sane range of numbers with which to work.

          • 1A

            Uh, ok, so what, 1000 teachers then? Big deal. I don’t keep up with Rust-Belt suburbs, sorry!
            Sod–he said they have to be willing to take any job, so yeah, you can pretty much rescind your comment to me!

          • silentsod

            The quote is “They had a waiting list for positions that was… wait for it… four thousand people long. The only way to get on that waiting list was to agree that you would be a substitute teacher at $50/day for at least a year before taking whatever position they offered to you when they got around to it.”

            Which in no way implies that there will suddenly be 1500 job openings and makes your entire 2.67 applicants per position argument utterly absurd. A statement closer to accurate based on the above statement is there are 4000 people applying for each individual position that opens or 4000 applicants per position (which is still a dumb way to approach the question).

            I will absolutely not rescind my position against your illogical and poorly considered argument.

          • silentsod

            Having read up through the comments 25 is a much lower churn rate than I would have expected. Sheez.

          • 1A

            @sod
            Read again. Nowhere did I say there were 1500 OPENINGS. I don’t know why this number was even mentioned (Baruth braggadocio?) since it was for imaginary job openings. In my HR career, we never boasted this imaginary statistic–we instead used “n applied for x job”.

          • Jack BaruthJack Baruth

            The 1500 number came from your own post.

            I was simply pointing out that in the current teaching market there are plenty of job openings for dangerous or unpleasant districts and no employment possibilities elsewhere.

          • 1A

            I said 1500 positions, not 1500 openings. Which is why the word was later shouted–Sod or someone else claimed I said 1500 openings, which I didn’t. And it was a question–something to the effect of “Are there about 1500 teaching positions in the district?”.
            I can’t imagine anyone would want to teach in the “nicer areas” if men like your brother are running around calling teachers stupid there (and brazen enough to publish it). I had a couple of very intelligent teachers try to discourage me from going to college for teaching–even to the point of them talking to my relatives about it. I see it even more clearly now–what a thankless job.
            I’d like to apologize if I was a vile, nasty person here. I don’t think I was, but it’s possible. I’m all for Freedom of Speech (as I stated in my first comment regarding the writer’s content), which is why I responded full-bore, but I’m signing off from reading content here (not that you care).

          • Jack BaruthJack Baruth

            For the record, I absolutely care if you don’t feel welcome here.

            I’m sorry about that and I hope you don’t walk away over a single-issue disagreement.

          • silentsod

            1A you said 1500 and you are the one who stated 2.67 applicants per, generally applicants are for job positions so you’ll excuse me for actually taking thing in the manner the real world works.

          • silentsod

            Additionally, my sister is a teacher who holds a master’s degree and I certainly hold her and many of my own teachers in the past in high regards. My sole issue was what appeared to be a very misguided and poor offhand analysis and I hope that I didn’t engage in any sort of behavior that made you feel personally denigrated (an attack on your character or the character of others).

          • 1A

            Sod–I worked in “the real world”, in HR, in an educational institution. We didn’t accept applications for positions that weren’t open, and we only kept applications on file for one year. How long were the 4000 kept in the pool for imaginary openings?! I know what I said. Re-read it, word for word. I didn’t say 1500 openings–I said the school had, perhaps, 1500 teaching positions. Not openings. I distributed that number across teaching positions since they were applying for non-existent openings.

            Jack–thanks for the note, but it’s I who have the issue, so I’m moving on to different topics. I thought the say-anything approach was cool, but I need a little more respectful environment. That said, do as ye please!

          • 1A

            Sod–I’m not personally offended by anything or anyone here. I have a big mouth, as evidenced here, so I can take it. I just find it offensive for those who do teach, because so many I know do it as a service–they literally view themselves as servants. I mean, it’s not like the line was written about hedge-fund managers or loan sharks. C’est la vie

          • silentsod

            The wait list thing was weird and likely the cause of a lot of misunderstanding; as far as I know generally a position is open or closed and if you didn’t get the job then tough luck.

            Teachers certainly do see it as a service and a passion. My older sister has a passion for teaching and has let a lot of other opportunities pass her by to keep on with it and to keep on at the place she is teaching. I don’t understand it, personally, but I also have a family to provide for so my decision making is driven by a different set of motives.

        • kvndoom

          My brother helped put Kepler into space. Stupid me always thought Ball just made jars. I never even knew they had an aerospace division!

          I’m fairly certain that he has never gotten within sniffing distance of a vagina in all his 48 years. :/

          Reply
          • VoGo

            Well, certainly within his first few moments of life. But that doesn’t exactly make him unique, now does it?

  15. Panzer

    Bark, I think you’re spot on about how we shouldn’t be afraid of failure, and how we should never let that be an excuse not to to always try our best. You’re also right about the ‘participation trophy’ cancer that’s taken over western culture that reinforces the entitlement that many feel to get shit for nothing.

    But just from reading the stuff from the source material that you cited, it seems possible to me that she’s not necessarily arguing for laziness and entitlement, rather that there’s honour in being ordinary – which your brother so magnificently summed up with his comment about being the guy who puts the wing mirror on the Accord on the assembly line.

    Reply
  16. WheeTwelve

    Thank you Bark for the article, and thank you Charlie for that early comment. You have saved my sanity for a little while longer.

    Reply
  17. DirtRoads

    Our daughter is smart, capable, young enough to get something going, and yet….

    Fear of success, I call it.

    If you succeed, you may be “stuck” with doing that for years! OMG what a fucking trap!

    She can rationalize ANYTHING.

    Reply
    • Jack BaruthJack Baruth

      I remember reading the annual report back in 2012 and thinking, “Honda is a Chinese scooter maker pretending to be an auto manufacturer.” 🙂

      Reply
      • VoGo

        If that’s true, then:
        -Toyota is a lean manufacturing consultant, with a side business in cars
        -GM was a subprime auto financing company pretending to be an automaker
        -BMW is a branding firm, pretending to be the enthusiast’s automaker

        Reply
        • Jack BaruthJack Baruth

          Not sure what you’re getting at there.

          Honda typically does more dollar volume and more sales volume with scooters than they do with cars. As the Bloomberg article notes, they could afford to shuck off or close the auto side of things.

          Reply
          • VoGo

            Hold the phone. The Bloomberg analysis is a little misleading. Honda makes 73% of revenues off cars; 12% off bikes. Profits from cars are about double that of bikes.

            Bloomberg’s point is that the bike business has higher margins as a %, and that those margins are more predictable. True enough.

            But the bread and butter for Honda is cars.

  18. VTNoah

    Saw this article a few days ago and wanted to come back to comment. Hol-eee sheeit did it blow up. Bark, I got the gist of the article and you’re right. Being ok with being mediocre sucks. I’ve always found I am happiest when I’m outside of my comfort zone and being pushed in some way or another. The key is that the majority of the time, no-one’s going to do it for you. The desire needs to come from within. Also, I’ve really enjoyed your recent posts in Linkedin. Solid stuff man. Hope the new gig is working out for you.

    Reply
  19. Nickoo

    Consider the following: Somebody is going to be mediocre. Somebody has to serve you coffee at star-bucks, flip your burger, wash your car, cut your grass, rivet your kawasaki quad deck to the frame, etc. etc. Hundreds of these folks just fade into the background of your life every single day, but yet all of them live their own unique lives.

    I see no shame in those folks being o.k. and accepting mediocrity for their life if that is what they want, I won’t ever be critical of them, it’s their choice and enables me to live a life somewhere above mediocrity (admittedly, not far above it, but far enough). I personally don’t accept mediocrity for my life, and would prefer not to befriend people who do, and that’s my choice.

    Reply
    • Dean

      I think you fail to consider that since everyone is different, it just may be that the Baristas and Schoolteachers (and yes, I have an education degree – plus two others) of the world have in fact reached their highest level of competence after achieving at that level of work.

      Not everyone can be a fighter pilot or an astronaut, regardless of what your mother or grade school teacher told you as a child (immensely disappointing to be informed in the 1980s that having eyesight bad enough at age 11 would indeed FOREVER prevent me from be a Fighter Pilot, no matter how hard I worked at it). Thus, I found other things to be exceptional at and ran with it. No shame as long as you go out into each day intending to be the best you can be that day, at what ever you choose to do.

      They aren’t accepting mediocrity. I am sure in many cases they are being outstanding at what they are able to be outstanding at.

      Reply
    • Ronnie Schreiber

      My father told me, many, many times that he didn’t care what I’d be when I grew up, but that if I was going to be a garbageman, I had to be the best garbageman I could be. My late uncle was an opthalmologist and at his funeral my cousin, his son, said that his dad respected experts. It didn’t matter if you cut eyes expertly or you cut grass expertly, he respected you.

      I would hope that barristas, burger flippers, car washers, grass cutters, and quad deck riveters have enough self respect to demonstrate pride in their work. I once had a job as an animal caretaker in the mouse house of UofMich’s genetics department. I took care of lots of mice and scraped a lot of urine soaked and mouse turd packed cedar shavings and you can bet I tried to scrape that shit as best I could.

      Reply
      • VoGo

        I’ve seen this attitude frequently in Japan. Window washers really put themselves into their work, and you can see the pride they take in it.

        Not to wade into a discussion on racial politics, but there may be more nature at play here than nurture. I have one son who takes this attitude in anything he does, and really beats himself up over the smallest of mistakes made during even menial tasks. I have another son who couldn’t be bothered to take the slightest interest in the quality of anything he does.

        Reply
        • Ronnie Schreiber

          Do you do projects or hobbies with your sons?

          It’s well beyond charming the way my five year old grandson wants to “help” and every time he helps it’s an opportunity to teach him values.

          Reply
  20. trippster08

    I know next to nothing about other school systems, and don’t care enough about this argument to look up facts and studies, but I can do anecdotes.

    I decided to try teaching high school biology in MA several years ago, and I had to take a test to get my provisionary license. As a biology major (not education), it may have been the hardest single exam I’ve ever taken. I left thinking I very possibly had failed (I didn’t). At least in MA, the “stupidest college students” don’t pass this test, and don’t teach high school biology.

    Luckily, I found a job I liked better before having to deal with today’s entitled kids, a more important part of your point with which I do agree: we too often teach our kids that mediocrity is good enough, and that do one should be able to tell them anything different

    Reply
  21. Aoletsgo

    Grandfather who left the old world as a teenager and did well in the new world – check
    Father who worked his ass off and went from poor blue collar to the top of the corporate ladder – check
    The wife and I have some talent but work our butts off and did better than expected – check
    Two kids in there 20’s with great carrers and prove that young people can be hard workers – check
    No time for slackers and whiners – check

    I work for a relatively small research firm and I can honestly say we are the best in the world at what we do.
    Most years we hire about 5 top college grads on a 3 month probation period. Two will get flushed down the drain, two will crawl out and never be seen again and one will stay and do well.

    Reply
      • Dirty Dingus McGee

        @manfromlox

        Given the attitude of most college grads these days, it is more likely the kids aren’t up for real world pressure after having most everything they want handed to them in school, There aren’t any safe spaces, do-overs or time outs here in real life. It’s “root hog or die” here in the business world.

        Reply
    • 1A

      “Top college grads” are signing up for a 3-month probation for their first career?

      They probably got sick of correcting your grammar (“in there 20s”, “great carrers”) and making sense of just what the hell you’re actually trying to say (your last sentence, for instance).

      Reply
  22. Daniel J

    Lots to comment on this piece.

    1. The fundamental problem with talking about the teaching profession is that in many states, teachers don’t have degrees in education. We lump all teachers together, but its really not accurate. I had teachers who had Masters degrees in Mathematics, Masters degrees in Computer Science, Doctorates in History and Doctorates in English. Yes, this was at the High School level, at a very lower middle class school. If it wasn’t for some of those teachers, I wouldn’t have pursued a degree in Computer Engineering. Some of those teachers are extremely intelligent.

    2. When we talk about many aspects of life, I get the whole “those who can”t, teach”. This falls apart in many ways though. My father was a master carpenter. He had a Bachelors degree in Industrial Arts (yes, it was a thing in the late 60’s) and a Masters degree in Arts with an emphasis on Education. He taught woodshop for over 35 years. He has built some of the most beautiful furniture I’ve ever seen. He can “do”. But sometimes the only way to make a consistent wage is to teach, and he loved to teach kids how to build stuff. I never got that talent nor skill.

    3. Most Americans lead pretty “mediocre” lives. One of fundamental problems is that working 80 hours a week to “be your best” rarely pays off. Corporations take advantage of those employees. Corporations won’t move them up because they are too valuable as a grunt. Its a nice sentiment to be one’s best for the sake of “Honor”, but that doesn’t pay the bills. “Honor” still gets you laid off because its just a number and a way to save money. I’ll be the first to tell someone to change their situation. But for every company or corporation that recognizes long hours and hard work, there are a 1000 who don’t give a sh!t. I was raised to work as hard and as smart as I could. But we all have work-life balance and we all want to get paid. If moving from job to job to move up the ladder and working to the bone makes one happy, that’ts fine. And if that’s what it means to be and work to one’s best, that is fine too. I have hobbies and other things I like to do. Some I’m ok at and some I’m terrible at and yet I enjoy those things. I’m also ok with being mediocre at my job.

    4. I don’t prescribe to the Millennial philosophy of zero competition and absolutely perfect working conditions. But I will say that talent in one’s job plays just as much if not more a role than how hard one works or how much one learns when competing for those jobs. I have a talent for solving hard problems with brute force code. All the rage in Computer science these days is functional programming, patterns, and SOLID principals. I really don’t have such talent for that level of code and while I’m still learning all these new things, I’ll keep plugging along and being mediocre. I enjoy writing the code that I do write and solving the problems I have to solve.

    Reply
  23. N3TRUN

    Hear! Hear! Well said.

    And as far as anyone calling you out for having the gall to “attack” a woman on the internet I say anyone posting their opinion on the interwebs is fair game for hearing from opposite minded folks.

    Reply
  24. RobbieAZ

    Ok, so who sets the standard for what is and what is not mediocre? If I’m not the greatest bass player in the world am I mediocre? If I’m not a millionaire am I mediocre? My wife is fat. She was fat when I married her. Am I automatically declared mediocre because I didn’t aspire to marry a supermodel? Or do I get points back for marrying a woman significantly younger than myself? How does this all work?

    I do the best job I can do at work. I could probably find a way to work quite a few more hours than my normal 40 per week if I really wanted to. But I enjoy my time off and choose not to spend every waking hour doing or thinking about work. My work is not my life. It is a means of achieving what I want out of life. Does this attitude make me mediocre?

    When I set out to do something, like recording a song I’ve written for instance, I strive to do the best job I can and make it the best I’m able to. But I’m not going to obsess over it endlessly in a vain attempt at perfection. That just isn’t any fun. Mediocre? Perhaps, but so what?

    I have no kids to teach values or life lessons to. And I am not going to break my back trying to convince other people how awesome I am based on some arbitrary standard of what it takes to be ‘excellent’. It’s my life and I’m going to live it in the way that makes me the happiest. If that makes me mediocre then I can live with that.

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