The problem with mediocrity. It’s everywhere. Sad but true.

If you think about it, it’s against our nature to innovate, be the first to do things, and to lead.

Why?

Well, if you think about it (again) — by not innovating, we can comfortably follow someone who tries to innovate. This means we’ll follow our job description which usually does not detail “innovate”, we can make a lot of good quality noise to look like we’re working really hard which a mediocre boss can appreciate, we won’t make anyone pissed at us for being too bold/public/blunt, and … we can pay the bills.

It’s funny, or maybe sad. We are highly incentivized by modern companies to do less than more. Want to take risks and innovate? Stay another hour? Work on a spreadsheet showing some new economics? Schedule a meeting with an executive in your company to discuss the company strategy? Say you disagree? Write an aggressive email? Make a risky hire? Rethink what you’ve done yourself?

No. you won’t.

And you know why? Because you’re most probably want to make sure your boss likes you. And you care. Well, caring is great when you want to surprise your girlfriend with a nice gift for her birthday, caring is really nice when you remember your mother’s birthday’s date, caring is even unique when you call people on the holiday and say “hey guys, happy holiday”. Do you know when caring becomes a challenge, when you start caring about yourself more than you do about what you can do with yourself. In other words, mediocrity.

Now we are not all like that, of course.

— Steve Jobs is different. He invented Macbook pro.

— Ben Gurion was different – he started Israel.

Taboola’s Chairman is different – he invented the voicemail.

— My lady’s mother is different; she came from another country with a penny in her pocket, became a doctor, got citizenship and built meaningful economics.

Common for the above: they didn’t care for themselves as much as they were obsessed with the risk of innovation and change. Front line. Make or break. Live or die. All or nothing. Just do it (Nike). Period the end. Innovation.

In the book startup-nation, which is rather market-ish book but nice for people working with Israelies to read, the author explains why the Israeli army overcomes others while being smaller by 10x-100x than other armies. The books explains that the Israeli officers’ culture encourages their soldiers to try and not look back, asking for approval. Or at least not to do it all the time, suggesting that this is the only way a really small group of trusted people can grow to act as a powerful team, a knockout.

So what can you could you possibly take from this post:

— If you’re a person managing people, you should encourage yourself to encourage people working for you to do more, and break the rules within a reasonable and constructive manner. Not all the time, but when they do, breath (then, breath. Then breath again). Then – speak.

— If you’re a person working for someone. Do politics if you have to, but mainly to exercise innovation here and there.

Good luck ! and may you enjoy the song

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