One Absolute Essential to Rise Out of Mediocrity

By Doug Armey

“Most people in this or any other industry are by definition mediocrities.  Assuming you don’t want to be a mediocrity, this would seem to suggest that you had better take pains to seal yourself off from most of the people around you.  Moreover, my experience. . . clearly indicates that you rise to the level of your superiors or sink to the level of your inferiors. . . depending purely on with which group you spend more time and energy interacting.”  Nick Murray

Have you ever noticed how some of the most personable people, the ones you love hanging with, are also the most mediocre in their accomplishments?  They’re fun.  Always up for a party.  Quick with a joke.  We enjoy their friendship.  Yet, occassionally we can feel we’re wasting our time.  We feel like we’re being sucked into a vortex that’s going nowhere.  In a word—mediocrity.

When I was still at the brokerage company, where I began my career, there were brokers who roamed the office.  They didn’t have a lot going on so they hung out in the kitchen or popped in to say, “Hi.”

After a few years, I was given a large office in a separate wing in our complex.  I thought, “Finally, I can get work done.”  I enjoy people but distraction bugs me.  When people disrupt my work flow it stresses me out.

My hopes were short lived.  The roamers found me the first day.  They stopped by to admire my new office and chat.

Nick Murray points out we need to choose.  Who we hang out with.  How we spend our time.

Often the most successful aren’t necessarily the most fun.  They can be intense, focused, no-nonsense kind of people.  But they also can be the most stimulating.

Some of you are thinking, “But we’re supposed to love everyone.”

We should try to love everyone.  But that doesn’t mean we need to be buddies.  In fact, that’s precisely our choice.

Even Jesus, who gave the command to “Love your neighbor as yourself” separated himself from the crowds.

The Bible says, “He did not give himself over to the people for he knew what was in their hearts.”

While the crowds pressed in around him he would escape to be alone.  While people wanted to be with him constantly he spent most of his three years of ministry with 12 men.  And much of that time with only three of the 12.  He treated everyone with kindness but he entrusted himself only to a handful.

And he set lose in three years a movement that changed the world.  He had no time to waste.  He was particular about who he hung out with.

So how do we do this?

First, we need an honest evaluation.

  • Who of my acquaintances is adding to my life?
  • Who is subtracting?
  • Who rejuvenates me?
  • Who stimulates me?
  • Who drags me down?
  • Who do I wish I had more time with?
  • Who am I not sorry to see leave?

I know this seems cold and calculating.  But are you serious about living above mediocrity?

Then second, we need to spend our time with the winners.  Avoid the downers.  Ration the fun time-wasters.

Proverbs says, “Walk with the wise and become wise; associate with fools and get in trouble.” (Proverbs 13:20, NLT)

We’ll run the risk of seeming aloof.  I will guarantee some of your former friends won’t be as close.  Does this mean you need to calculate the input value of every friend?  Absolutely not.  Some are good friends who you just enjoy.  That’s fine.  But if they’re not stimulating and encouraging then limit the exposure so you can increase your time with some extraordinary new friends.

I’m involved in many social organizations and can be very warm and personable.  But I don’t waste much time on those who settle for ineptness.

After going through broker training in January of 1998 we had a class party the night before graduation.  With alcohol flowing one of my classmates, who I had spoken to very little, approached me.  She was nice, but let’s just say, I was surprised she had made it this far in her training.

She said to me, “When I first met you I thought you were an arrogant son-of-a-bitch.”

I laughed and responded, “My mother wouldn’t appreciate that comment.”

She went on, “Actually I like you.  But you can be aloof at times.”

I replied, “So I’ve been told.”

We later would see each other occasionally at company conferences and share a beer and a laugh.  But she would never be part of my inner circle.

What frees me though is realizing my completion as a person will never come from another human no matter how many friends I have.

It comes only from my relationship with the one who created me and can fulfill me.

Proverbs says, “A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” (Proverbs 18:24, NIV)

We may have lots of friends and drift in mediocrity.  But there is one who can be closer than any other.  Who fills up our lives so we’re not as dependent on other people.  Who fills that yearning inside for connection that we all have.

The blessing is when we rest in that intimacy it frees us to be selective in our human relationships.

And that helps insulate us from mediocrity.  Then we can move forward into the greatness God has designed for each of us.

Time to make some changes?  Let me know what you discover.

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Categories : Significance, Success

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