“Sliding down the slippery slope of mediocrity.”
I believe he actually said “the slippery surface of irrelevant brilliance” but I thought I saw somewhere he said what I wrote above.
A great thought from a great writer and what I would call a great leader (even though he may not have been the most flexible of leaders).
This isn’t just a business lesson but also a life lesson. Because it is about compromise and “half-truths” and a whole bunch of things.
It is incredibly easy to compromise … in business and in life.
What do I mean?
“Just this once” when you are asked a question. Maybe you embellish.
“Just this once” you say to yourself when you put off that thing you wanted to do. A workout. A chore. A book. A trip. A diet. A phone call you wanted to make.
And before you know it <after some “just this onces“> you have edged on to that slippery slope.
Life is funny that way.
Think of it maybe this way.
In that incomparable <and totally underrated> movie The Replacements there is a scene where Keanu Reeves talks about it as “quicksand”.
It’s the same thing.
You get in it. And you fight hard but you just can’t stop sliding down. In fact the harder you try to fight it … the worse it seems to get.
And it is a truly helpless feeling. That’s quicksand in life.
That is the slippery slope.
Maybe the worst thing about the slippery slope is that most people don’t realize they have started sliding until it is too late. Because the slope is tricky smart.
Sly in fact.
It teases you with some easy low consequence decisions upfront. For example … you are on a diet and just have one dessert. One occasion … one time <some people are tempted to call this “reward for good behavior” which is simply another trick the slippery slope plays upon you>.
Maybe the slope even tempts you with permitting a small embellishment. Just a small addition at the end of a thought. Just a couple of words you wish you hadn’t said but didn’t seem to be that big. And the next time it becomes a few more words. And then … before you know it … the embellishment has taken on a life of its own.
It is one of my quests in life to find good people who have mistakenly started the slide and lend a hand to pull them back up.
Professionally and personally.
Does that mean I am better than mediocrity? Shit no.
I just recognize that sense of helplessness … and I like people to have hope for something better then the helpless feeling found on some stupid slippery slope.
And I also believe there are a shitload of really good people … and I mean good as in talented and good as in heart & soul … who just get caught on the slope and life makes it even more difficult to figure out a way to get off the fucking slope.
This quote reminds me of two things.
1. Pay attention to everything. It’s the only way to insure mediocrity can’t gain momentum (because we all have to compromise on occasion)
2. Help those who have that look of “how the hell did I get so far down this slope” by grabbing their hand and pulling them back up whenever you have a chance. There are some incredible people and some incredible talent out there that just got caught on life’s slippery slope.
It doesn’t mean they are mediocre by any stretch of the imagination.
It is simply that they got caught on the slippery slope and didn’t know how to get off.
Because I used a Replacements scene as an example of the slippery slope <and a really good scene in the overall perspective of the movie with a good message about second chances and shit like that> I want to end with one more Replacements reference.
“Greatness, no matter how short, stays with a person forever.”
gene hackman (replacements)
For some of us greatness will never be a lifetime tag. In fact for many of us <me for sure> this is a Truth.
A great moment? A great action? A great thing?
We shouldn’t dwell on it (for a life is never defined by one moment of greatness).
But a short moment of greatness … when someone who has been stuck on the slippery slope and is struggling to get off and just can’t see how … well … remind them of their moment of greatness and point out what made it happen and what they are capable of .. and … in that moment … in some magical way … you may also have achieved your own moment of greatness.
And, that … is what makes life pretty awesome.