Jeremy Côté


Are You Willing to be Mediocre?

At first glance, the answer would be, “no”. However, giving that answer would be missing the point.

We all want to be experts. It doesn’t even matter what the expertise is in. If you ask most people, they’ll gladly accept being an expert at nearly anything. This is because achieving a state of expertise means you are wise and went to the trials of becoming an expert.

What is missed, however, is the fact that expertise arises from mediocrity. To be an expert means to have been an amateur. It’s virtually impossible to leapfrog from not knowing anything about a subject to being an expert. This simply does not happen.

Instead, expertise occurs as a result of a lot of practice. And, more importantly, being wrong.

We don’t like to be wrong. Often, being wrong feels like a personal attack on one’s character, as if we don’t feel as intellectual as the rest of our peers. We don’t like being wrong because we do not enjoy displaying a weakness to those in our social circles.

However, the reality is that expertise requires you to be mediocre. There’s no shortcut. In a way, being an expert means you’ve once been an amateur and have learned from all your mistakes. We don’t like to think of it like this, though, because experts are thought to be people who don’t get anything wrong.

What we need to realize, then, is that those who become experts have become experts because they’ve accepted the journey to get there. Mainly, they’ve accepted that being mediocre is just a phase in a process. Being only a phase, they realize that it will come to an end, and eventually lead to being an expert.

It’s a comforting myth to spread, but it’s wrong. Experts become experts as a result of being mediocre, not in spite of. Therefore, if you want to be an expert at what you do, embrace the phase of mediocrity. Through hard work, you’ll find that it is only a phase and does get better.

The path to expertise always includes mediocrity.