Why being average is the most frightening outcome of all.

Earlier this year, I attended the amazing mastermind conference known as SOBCon and one of the topics we discussed was how fear affected our businesses.

The panel discussed how two types of fears can hold us back.  Some of us fear failure- this is no surprise, our entire school system is built upon getting ostracized for trying something and it not working out perfectly.  People who fear failure just don’t try at all.

Then, there are a whole other group of people who fear success.  They are not sure if they are ready to step up to the plate when success stares them in the face, so they sabotage their efforts.

When our group came to discuss this topic vis-à-vis our own businesses, I had a different answer altogether.  I wasn’t afraid of success OR failure.  I was afraid of mediocrity.  And here’s why you should be too.

Being mediocre, average or in the middle is the worst of all outcomes.  It signals that we aren’t trying hard enough.  If you fail, you should go down in flames (like my friend Jason Seiden says, “Fail Spectacularly”).  You might as well go big or go home.  Being average is almost like being invisible.  Why do you think Jan Brady had so many issues with Marsha, Marsha, Marsha?

Think about what’s happening in your local stores or at the mall.  The middle is becoming less and less relevant.  Premium brands which deliver luxury and status at the high end of the spectrum have their raving fans.  Private label and value brands that deliver more for less are continually gaining in popularity.  This is what’s commanding attention and shelf space.  The whole slew of other “average” choices are becoming obsolete and will continually have a harder time competing.

Forget about being decent or good enough.  In an era where we have more choices than we could ever want or need, mediocrity is a death sentence.  If you are going to fail, then go down in a major way. I am not saying bet the farm or gamble recklessly with your finances, but rather truly get outside of your comfort zone with a bold risk.  And while you are at it, if you are going to succeed, do it with a freakin’ ticker-tape parade.

And most of all, let your fear of mediocrity inspire you to make bold choices instead of holding you back, because being afraid of mediocrity is kind of a mediocre attitude in itself.

PS- If the idea of a mastermind conference with incredibly intelligent and interesting people (limited to 150 attendees or less, depending on the venue) sounds appealing to you, check out http://www.sobevent.com/.  I’ll be at the one in Colorado September 17-18th and then back in Chicago next spring.