You’re Mediocre, Chump

You’re Mediocre, Chump

You are destined to be nothing special, so you might as well accept it. That was the message from a prominent career counselor writing in a major news magazine awhile ago.

As he blithely put it, “Failures may help you realize you are average; not everyone can be a star.” And then, just to make sure you aren’t too hard on yourself, he smugly goes on to say “But plain folk are worthy too.” Thanks for the reassurance, pal.

This view that a special few of us are the chosen ones and everyone else is a dim wit is so 20th Century. It’s the career analogue to the hubristic self-indulgence that brought us the Great Recession.

For years, the sycophants of business school capitalism crowed that the wizards of Wall Street and the CEOs of corporate America were just so much smarter than the rest of us ordinary folk … only now we know they weren’t. They were Masters of Stupidity, which is a talent, I suppose, but not one that makes them a star.

What does that mean for the “average” working man and woman? Just this, you aren’t. Average, I mean. You and every other person on this planet have an extraordinary being living inside you, waiting for a chance to perform.

If you don’t believe that, think about Susan Boyle. She was a less than attractive Scottish spinster, until she strode out on the stage of a British television show and wowed the world with her voice. That talent has always been there, but she had never had the courage or the opportunity to express it.

In many respects, her experience is the way many of us live our careers. We leave our special talent unrecognized and unused because we lack either the self-confidence or the opportunity to expose it to the light of day.

We don’t think our talent is worthy enough to be a career. Or, we would rather keep up with the Madoffs than be the person we were meant to be. Or, worse, we buy into the nonsense of that condescending career counselor and accept the notion that we are simply beasts of burden with a vocabulary.

So, let me set the record straight. Every human being has talent. Whether you (or your kids) were selected for some elementary school’s Gifted and Talented program or not, you (and your kids) have a talent.

How can that be? Simple. Talent is not a test score or even the ability to perform on America’s Got Talent. Instead, talent is the capacity for excellence, and it is a attribute of our species. It is a gift with which we ALL have been endowed.

The only choice we have – the one that determines the caliber of our career – is whether we have the courage, the determination and the self-respect to bring that talent to work with us. Will we be the me in mediocre or the I in superior?

Work Strong,

Note: To read more about Career Fitness and Career Activism, get my books, Work Strong: Your Personal Career Fitness System and The Career Activist Republic. Both are available at, in many bookstores and on

Look for my new book, Walden 4G: A Novel About Rediscovering Hopefulness (and America’s Secret Utopia), due out next spring.