Whistler, British Columbia
I recently had the very good fortune to tag along to a conference that my husband was attending in Whistler, British Columbia. He sat through seminars. I sat at the pool. He listened to speakers. I listened to the lounge singer. He sipped stale coffee. I sipped White Cranberry Cosmopolitans.
Olympians, Actors and Astronauts
I would meet Jim briefly between seminars and he would tell me about the keynote speakers. Without fail, the speakers would be phenomenally accomplished. (That morning the speaker was an Olympic medalist.) Jim attends many conferences internationally, and has listened to many men and women speak about their incredible careers and stunning life experiences. To say these people have accomplished "phenomenal" things is almost an insulting understatement. He has had the privilege of hearing Olympians, actors and even astronauts give motivational speeches.
These speakers are contracted to inspire and challenge others to greatness. They serve as role models and they share their secrets so others can experience similar sensational success. This is the purpose of motivational speakers.
In Defense of Mediocrity
I was talking to Jim during one of his breaks between seminars (I was on a break between a manicure and a nap.) He sat, somewhat slump-shouldered, and admitted to feeling rather under-accomplished in the presence of such magnificence. He declared that he was going to give a Ted Talk “In Defense of Mediocrity.” He thought that surely, there was merit in sitting on the couch. In defense of my husband, he works very hard, running a family in Washington and a software company in Canada. He is no couch slouch. However, in comparison to the Olympian, the actor and the astronaut, he lacks “bling”.
His words rang in my ears, “in defense of mediocrity.” I couldn’t stop thinking about them. In fact, I thought about them during my entire massage later that afternoon. Here’s what I think: Jim is a dedicated father, an unflagging provider, an innovative executive, and a generous companion. Being a dad generally lacks “bling” - in fact, one gets grubby, bruised and sometimes has egg on his face. The best provider experiences ups and downs and turns in the market. The most innovative executive has challenges meeting the needs of demanding clients, and a man’s companion is not always as generous as he.
Lacking loads of "bling", however, does not make Jim mediocre. He is exceptional at balance. An Olympic athlete does not earn a medal by splitting his time between watching the kids and training at an elite level. An astronaut can’t always be a generous companion, putting his partner’s needs ahead of his trips to space.
People with phenomenal accomplishments are often single-minded and of single-purpose. Their entire lives are dedicated to reaching that pinnacle. They have to be.
Jim rarely misses his son’s hockey games. He has grown his software company from employing two people to providing 25 people with secure, gainful employment. He has forfeited his comfort and security, enabling me to pursue a dream. I’m not seeing any mediocrity in that picture.
I think he’d better get busy with that Ted Talk. There are lots of conference attendees needing perspective: they need to hear how sensational they are. He'd better think of a new title, though.