I realised the other day I hadn't turned on a television for 3 months. At some point my brain just decided it had had enough soft white fluffy carbs. Since then my productivity has soared and I am immensely happier.
There is a vast gap between what is comfortable and what should be strived for. I wonder how many people notice it.
Paul Arden summed it up best when he said "Why Strive For Excellence when Mediocrity is required?"
Why? Because right now we need anything but mediocrity. Arden understood it then, as most artists* understand it now: The last thing the world needs is more bridal reality television, cookie-cutter romantic comedies and magazine articles on who is slightly heavier than they were yesterday.
Of course, if we follow Arden's reasoning to completion, he also says it may be a bad thing if mediocrity didn't exist, because creatives need something to rebel against. While I agree with the sentiment, it seems that the mediocre is more common than the unique, purely because as soon as a new idea bursts through, suddenly everyone immediately has to make multicoloured copies of the same thing, and it's forced down into mediocrity once more.
The rapid growth of "Me too" is partly to blame. A desirable product, fashion or internet site catches on and everyone has to have it. Companies then take that unique idea and distort it, trying to make it their own, but still appealing to the original idea. I'm all for remixing ideas, but not at the expense of creativity.
Creativity is something that should be nutured, and yet it is slowly being educated out of children. They are taught that answers are to be learned by rote, and are given work merely to satisfy a curriculum, rather than teaching them to think for themselves and solve real world problems. Popular critics of this epidemic (Ken Robinson, Seth Godin and Chris Guillebeau to mention a few) all agree that in general the problem isn't the teachers. It's the system they have to work under.
The perception of "you won't get a job doing that" is huge. This means that many wonderful, intelligent people leave school depressed and insecure, all because their natural talents haven't been nurtured, or worse, ridiculed as being useless in the "real world".
If someone could talk to a class of teenagers and tell them that their passions are something they should follow, I wonder how many of them would listen. I wonder if it's too late. They've already been told that it's great to follow that dream of being a musician but have a back-up plan in accounting "just in case" (for those whose passion actually is accounting, I am honestly very happy for you).
A word on television: I'm not against it. On the contrary, it can be exceptionally entertaining and some great ideas are generated through it. I think I have a problem with watching it because it's just there. I still watch movies, TV series, and play games. I just prefer to watch them outside of television programming.
The point i'm trying to make is this: I'd love it if everyone finished the week feeling just as good about the week ahead as they do about their weekend. Too many people settle for less.
*By artist I mean anyone with creativity, be they painters, arborists or electricians