Something special happens when we identify our unique purpose and realize that our legacies are bigger than us--we grow tired of average and ordinary. But that doesn't stop those around you from continuing to settle for mediocrity.
Recently I was dining at a mid-priced restaurant in one of the world's busiest airports and saw a waitress struggling with this very dilemma. When she went to the kitchen to pick up the order for her guests she realized that the cook forgot to add cheese to the cheeseburger. The waitress brought the error to the cook's attention quickly, but calmly. Clearly annoyed, he grabbed a slice of American cheese and tossed it on the burger. "Now get out of my face," the cook said to the waiter half-jokingly. The waiter pushed back, insisting that the cook prepare the cheeseburger properly, with the cheese actually melted. Even though it wasn't her fault or her direct responsibility, she refused to be associated with this obvious lack of care.
So how do you stick with your values when people around you are stuck in mediocre mode?
1. Speak up, effectively: Use uplifting language to sweeten your comment so it doesn't sound condescending. We all find it easier to do better when someone acknowledges that we are better than our behavior. Depending on if the person you're concerned about is a peer, a subordinate, or a loved one your approach will vary. Be sure you are maintaining communication appropriate to the relationship.
2. Reassign roles: Oftentimes folks aren't performing at their best because the work they are doing doesn't draw on their best attributes. Identify the strengths of those around you and assign them to a task where they will shine. If you don't have the authority to make those changes, you can still encourage someone to reassign themselves using the uplifting language we discussed in tip #1.
3. Reconsider your core network: We won't always be in the position to change who we work with, but when we do we shouldn't take it lightly. Do your research when considering a new job, volunteer group, place of worship, friend, or significant other. If you don't see good fruit, then you are probably looking at a bad seed. But use caution; sometimes you could be the very vessel to bring out the legend in someone who seems ordinary.
Leave a comment below to let us know how you implemented these tips.