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Mediocrity Vs. Excellence: Make the Choice

By: Dima Issa

Life is all about choices. Do you strive for excellence, or do you settle for mediocrity ?, Do you soar to your highest potential, or are you stuck where you are ?

The true meanings of the words are hidden in their very structure. Excellence comes from the combination of the latin root words “ex” meaning out of, from within and “cellere” which means rise higher, tower. Together they combine to give excellence the meaning of towering, distinguished, and superior. Mediocrity, on the other hand, originally meant ‘being halfway up a mountain , from the latin roots “medius” meaning middle, and “ocris” a jagged mountain.

The picture these words paint is of someone climbing the mountain to success and personal victory and attainment. And someone getting a little lost or stuck along the way, perhaps giving up too soon. If at the time of reading this you happen to be stuck in mediocrity worry not, because mediocre is but a stage on the path to excellence.


On the surface, we are aware that we should be aiming for excellence; the dilemma is that excellence requires more from each one of us. It requires us to give more of our time and energy. Mediocrity, on the other hand, is content with procrastination and laziness. Mediocrity knows the minimum effort necessary to complete a task, and once that point is reached, it promptly puts its feet on the table, places its hands behind its head and calls it a day. So how can we kick mediocrity out the door and replace it with excellence?

Well, one important thing to keep in mind is this: excellence is not the same thing as perfection. As you travel the journey of achieving your dreams, not everything will go as planned, but it is how you respond and what you learn along the way that will enhance your experience and help you reach the top of the mountain with even more appreciation for what you will have achieved.

The path towards excellence starts with a small step. To move away from mediocrity, begin to climb the mountain at whatever pace feels comfortable to you. Every step forwards is a step towards your own excellence.

So let’s start with how you can begin:

1. Determine what excellence looks like to you. Be very specific, but at the same time do not allow for mediocrity. Envision what the peak of your mountain will look like. In order to achieve, we must first believe.

2. Always do your best. If at any time during your journey you know that you could have done more, trained harder, been more supportive, or put in more time, then you know that in that moment you settled for mediocrity.

3. Define the values that will lead you to excellence. What do you value, why do you value it? If your goal is to become an excellent athlete, but you use performance enhancing drugs along the way, then you have not lived by the value of integrity. Define your values, and live by them each day, as in doing so you will feel the effects of excellence daily.

4. Communicate your values. Once you know what you’re seeking and how you’ll achieve it, you will need to communicate it to those around you. In order to create strong relationships with people, we can’t assume they know what our value system is, unless we communicate it to them.

5. Align what you say with what you do. Be prepared to walk the talk. A surefire way to gain more respect, support, and effort from those around you is to align what you say with what you do. You may sometimes stumble, but as long as you stumble forward and learn not to make the same mistakes in the future, then you are headed in the right direction – towards Excellence Mountain.

Remember, when you reach the peak that excellence will send you to, allow yourself to stop for a moment and reflect on this: excellence is actually a state of mind.

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