Mediocrity is not an option

A few days ago, one of my newly hired designers came to me to show a design that was not even mediocre at its best.

He didn’t say anything but got back to his drawing board when I asked, “Is this your best work?”

If I would have measured my blood pressure at that time, I’m sure it would be much higher.

Not because the deadline was about to miss. Not because my designer’s capabilities was any less. It was because of the premise that the designer operated from mediocrity might work this time.

No. Mediocrity won’t work. Not this time. Not anytime. If it works for someone, it is a fluke.

No. Mediocrity won't work. Not this time. Not anytime. If it works for someone, it is a fluke. #excellence Click To Tweet

I wish the designer was taught to tell his past leaders on face: Raise your standards for me. I deserve more than what mediocrity may produce in my life.

The designer’s life would be much different if he had worked for a leader who would push him to his limits and bring his excellence out.

Take ownership of your life. Find a leader who does not accept mediocrity. Find a leader who pushes his people to the limits. Find a leader who makes you uncomfortable for all good reasons.

And work for him. Even if you get less salary than what you will get working for a mediocre leader. It’s a very small cost to pay.

Will it make you feel comfortable?

Hell NO.

Will it make your life better over the long run?

You guess.

This applies to you even if the leader is you.

The social validation

What is your first response when you encounter a tremor?

You wonder if anyone else has also noticed the tremor. The need for “validation” is widespread and happens for incidents that don’t involve tremor as well.

If those in your group feel something, you’ll too. That’s the reason we look around before we start clapping on a really good speech by that inspiring guest speaker. Why should it matter if people in your group felt the way you did about the episode? Because it matters. A lot. Social validation matters.

Startup founders are no different.

They attend hackathons, tech meetups and try to network with every other startup founder in their area for that very reason – social validation.

Still why the startups that have won hackathons and mesmerized everyone else in a tech meetup don’t live up to the promise?

More or less, the crux of whatever they talk about in such events comes to this:

“I’m riding the horse of uncertainty. I can see that you’re too. Just the color of my horse is pink and your’s is blue.  I’m cool at what I do. Pretty soon I’ll be successful; you might too!”

And they feel relaxed. They feel they’re doing something right even though the case might be exactly the opposite.

This observation from Seth Godin is so on-target:

“Action, even ineffective action, is something societies seek out during times of uncertainty.”

Sure, it’s natural. It’s human too. But it’s scary as well.

As they are more close to everyday uncertainties, startup founders tend to take more actions than others.

But sometimes more is not better. Only better is better. Again a profound thought from Seth.

Maybe, instead of attending one more similar startup community event, you might want to spend your Saturday noon making your product better.

Attend good startup events for sure – they provide great value. But do it for the right reasons. If you’re doing it for social proof, then you might want to reconsider it.

Not more actions. Just the better ones.

The perfect time to do the exercise

The perfect time to do the exercise is when you don’t feel like doing it.

The perfect time to do the exercise is when you don’t feel like it will have an immediate positive impact on your belly fat.

The perfect time to exercise is when you have a choice not to do it.

The perfect time to exercise is when you have realized that doing exercise is important and it is more worth than the time, energy and efforts it will take.

Same is the case with learning a new skill or taking your spouse on an intentional date after 15 years of marriage.

Same is the case with doing anything that you consider important but you don’t have time to do it because of other “urgent” things at your hand.

Would you like to do the exercise today?

Educate without a bias

I won’t believe what you’ll “market” to me.

I won’t believe what your other clients say about you in their video testimonials that I see on your website.

But I will believe if my close friend recommends you.

I will believe if I “tell” myself that you’re great.

How would you let my friend recommend your product? How would you let me believe that you’re great?

Friendship is based on trust. No trust = no friendship.

Why should I trust you? Why should I believe that you do not have any wasted interest in “educating” me about a subject around your product?

In the connection economy, every smart business would educate the mass about how their product is great at solving problems. Nothing hip about it.

The thing called “education” loses its impact if it is done with a bias.  Education is not a sales technique but still, we do that. Consider the following:

  • 21 SureFire Ways to Bring Your WebSite on Top – Guaranteed!
  • Why You Should Hire a Full-Time PHP Developer in India for Your Next Web App Project?
  • If You Are Not Using XYZ App, Then You Are Not Using Mobile (Really!)
  • Why ABC Political Party is Clean and How Another Party is Ruining the Country…?

I’m sure you would have read hundreds of such headlines … in blogs, in videos, in almost every imaginable media out there.

Education has to be neutral. It cannot be biased and recommend your own product inside the body of the content. If it does, people get it. And they don’t believe in what you say.

If you want to educate people, educate without any wasted interest. Educate them because you want to share what you know. Educate them because they need to get what you know. Educate them because they want to listen to what you have to say.

That builds the trust and people will give you permission to sell your products, service, and ideas. To them, with a positive bias. Not easy to earn.

Easier said than done!

The right behavior

Every behavior gets something done or delays something that is to be done.

Every word you speak, every sentence you write, every piece of code you test, every story you tell has only one purpose – to get something done.

Purpose of your behavior is NOT to showcase your skills, your knowledge of the facts or standards to be conformed to, or whether you’re smart or committed.

Purpose of your behavior is also not to prove if you were RIGHT or wrong.

Purpose of your behavior is simple: it is to figure out/carry out/push forward/facilitate what you are going to do to get the ONE, most important, thing done. The most important thing is the ONLY thing that matters out of hundreds of things that lie with it on your (and your organization’s) to-do platter.

If you want to argue, argue about how you can make it better.

If you want to disagree, show the value that your disagreement would bring.

But if your expression brings the negative energy in just to PROVE your point, then everyone loses.

It is a waste…it is a waste of your time, and it is a waste of the receiver’s time. It’s a waste for a simple reason: IT DOES NOT GET ANYTHING DONE.

If your expression does not get things done, it is of no use.  Since it is of no use, how can it be right?

The ONLY right behavior is what contributes to making the most important thing done.

Cool idea, crappy app

When someone is using an App that is not easy for him to use, the App features and other benefits suddenly disappear.

You need to be absolutely clear and specific about the user experience your App provides in order to make your App not only understood by its users but cherished.

The thing is, just about every mobile user uses one or the other crappy App. It is “crappy” because it doesn’t match their expectation.

As an App Developer, your ability to convey that your App is not crappy is not as powerful as you think it is.

Your App will be criticized. If it is critical that your App users love your App, keep no stones unturned to have your App offer an experience that not only your users expect but make them feel wow!

If it is not critical that your user loves your App then what’s the point of creating such an App?

Because you had a “cool” idea? A cool idea is cool only when it is conveyed in a way that your Apps users want to experience it. It is worthless otherwise. Think for yourself.