“Some people are born mediocre, some people achieve mediocrity, and some people have mediocrity thrust upon them.” – Joseph Heller
Rising above the crowd in any profession requires enormous energy and perseverance. It takes courage to put yourself on the front lines. What is commonly referred to as the Pareto Principle is just math. Average out the numbers and there will be a vast wasteland of, well, “average.” But just above that group, in a category so separate it is a difference in kind rather than quality, is the top 10%, the top 5%, and the top 1% of people in any endeavor.
That is where life’s heroes live. Define success however you want. It can be monetary, but it can also be freedom from worry, time for your family, or just doing what you want to do in the terribly short time we have to do it.
The difference is not “positive thinking” which is one of the most over-rated concepts ever thrust upon humanity. Certainly a person seeking greatness must think well of their endeavors, but the secrets to success, however defined, have more to do with hard work, diligence, and a refusal to quit than it does with whistling while you work.
Make up your mind. What kind of travel consultant do you want to be? The title of today’s column is a bit misleading. I’m not going to talk about mediocrity. Actually, we almost never do. We talk about the people who excel, the ones who push just a bit further, whose aspirations drive them forward. If that’s what you want for yourself, I want it for you.
Here’s what you have to do:
- Choose to be not just good at travel consulting, but, rather, choose to be insanely great. I’ve written on the topic before, but it’s worth repeating. None of us got into this business to be average. We didn’t become travel consultants to be merely “OK” at what we do. On a daily basis, renew your vows.
- Be involved in a life-long effort to learn your chosen craft. Take your craft seriously and study it like the art it is. Look at everything you are doing and be determined to upgrade it again and again. It takes time and patience, but most of all, determination. We are fortunate in this industry to be surrounded by suppliers wanting you to succeed, because your success means their own. We are surrounded by great trainers, opportunities for learning and travel agent communities where we can sound off, try out our ideas, and share with our peers.
- Get yourself some heroes. Instinctively, humans seek out heroes. In our political, social, and family life, we know the value of a person who will step up and take charge, who will risk safety and comfort for a greater good. Deep in our archetypal psyche, the stories of men and women who have managed to persist against great odds hold a special place. One of the ways successful business people of all types manage to persist even in the face of adversity is to find personal heroes.
When business is particularly difficult, it helps to have lessons from giants who have faced even greater adversity and whose perspectives are broader than our own. Take some time to investigate the biography of a historical figure in which you have some interest and learn more about them. Don’t overly invest in the person: even heroes have human flaws. In fact those flaws are what make them so very human and capable of emulation. Rather, look to the examples of their courage for inspiration. You will often find in the words and deeds of others all of the strength you need to be a better business person and human being, enough inspiration to keep moving forward.
Want a way of en-couraging yourself in the tasks of everyday? Find a hero.
For today, I will lend you two (actually three) of mine.
Now, get to work.
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face in marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.
Theodore Roosevelt – Address delivered at the Sorbonne, Paris, April 23, 1910.
This is the lesson: never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never—in nothing, great or small, large or petty—never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.
Winston Churchill – Harrow School, 29 October 1941.
In fact, this article I want to dedicate to a hero I met just this week. Enjoy: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3151292/Fearless-goat-goes-head-head-cow-ten-times-size-teaches-lesson.html#i-94933c564af4e323