How to Avoid Drifting Into Mediocrity


Last weekend I went on a little retreat to the Smoky Mountains with some sharp men. We talked about vision, work, fatherhood, God, you name it. It was fantastic. It was a much needed time of rest and really getting my mind right.

We were talking, in some context or another, about putting together a vision and a plan, about being purposeful in our approach to things. Out of nowhere, the man who was talking said something that struck me in a profound way.

He said, “You drift toward bad. You plan toward good.”

I talk constantly about having a vision, about how to approach goals, how to take effective action to reach them, how to improve your all-important mindset.

But let’s talk about why.

Why is it so important to form as clear a vision as possible? Why is it so important to work through goals, to understand their importance and what each step means to the final outcome? Why be so purposeful?

The quote above sums it up perfectly.

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Because you can move deliberately toward a worthy and wonderful destination, or you can drift, carried by the current, away from the greatness of which you’re capable.

You don’t drift into greatness. You don’t accidentally grow in knowledge and understanding. You don’t just stumble into incredible opportunities that play to your natural strengths and satisfy your deepest longings.

You drift into mediocrity. You accidentally end up spending ten years at a job you never intended to work. You stumble into a blasé, nonchalant version of yourself, un-sharpened by action, un-refined by the fires of pain and persistence, un-guided by a thoughtful plan.

And that is why vision is so crucial! That is why goals are so important. Because you don’t drift into greatness. It simply doesn’t happen accidentally.

To use physical fitness as an example, you don’t get stronger without working out, and doing so with intention. Doing it consistently, with a plan in place, to hit all important muscle groups, and to eat in a way that supports the physical goals you have.

You don’t get smarter in your sleep. You don’t get faster without running. You don’t learn without effort, without passionately pursuing wisdom and knowledge. Truly valuable growth takes concerted, calculated effort.

That’s the beauty of how it’s set up. That’s what makes the prize—the client, the girl or guy, the contract, the career, the promotion, the award, the wisdom—so special. Because it does take work! It takes pain, it takes sacrifice. It takes intention.

It costs something, and that is why it is so valuable.

The other option is to live without purpose and without a plan, to drift about with the wind. But you’re at the mercy of the current or the breeze. You’re at the mercy of swirling pools and ebbing tides. Perhaps you’re the 1 in 10 million who scratches the right lottery ticket (and doesn’t still end up broke) but if you’re one of the other 9,999,999, you’ll look up and wonder where the hell you are, and how you ended up there.

Take the time to regularly get clear on where you are and where you hope to end up. Refine your goals—your plan—so that they support that vision. If you don’t, you definitely won’t see that vision become your reality.



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