The false choice of mediocrity
Too often, we’re presented with choices that don’t please us. We can pick one lousy alternative or the other. And too often, we pick one.
I was struck by Apple’s choice to put a glass screen on the original iPhone. Just six weeks before it was announced, Steve Jobs decided he wanted a scratchproof glass screen. The thing is, this wasn’t an option. It wasn’t possible, reliable, feasible or appropriately priced. It couldn’t be done with certainty, and almost any other organization would have taken it off the list of appropriate choices.
It was unreasonable.
And that’s the key. Remarkable work is always not on the list, because if it was, it would be commonplace, not remarkable.
I’ve been thinking about this post by Seth Godin about mediocrity. While it’s intended for business decisions, I think it applies to most everything. Too often we settle for what’s easily available. We want a shirt, but the colors at the store aren’t really our favorite, but we buy one anyway. We tell ourselves it doesn’t really matter.
Maybe it doesn’t really matter for some people. But for me, it matters more than I realize at the time. I mentioned in a previous post how I wind up keeping things until they fall apart. Which means that shirt I’m not terribly fond of winds up in my closet for five years or longer. That’s five years of wearing something that doesn’t make me happy.
And it’s not just clothes. It’s dishes. And home furnishings. And so many other things.
It’s a challenge, though. We’re on a tight budget, and don’t intend to furnish the different rooms of the house until we have done the carpet and moved the walls. It’s a slow process. And I’ve taken some hand-me-down furniture from friends. Some pieces are really nice, even if they’re not what I’d purchase if money were available.
Lately I’ve been on a mission to pick up cute little dishes at Goodwill. My sole criteria is that it has to make me happy to look at. They don’t have to be fancy or expensive, or even unchipped or unstained. They only have to make me happy. Everything gets a 10 second appraisal, and if there is any hesitation, then I just put it back on the shelf.
But, while I may have an ever-growing collection of dishes that make me happy, there’s still quite a bit around here that is merely “made-do.” I think it’s time I start figuring out a way to replace them, one by one.