Mediocrity & the Death of the Hard Worker

Someone called me an assistant the other day. 

Someone emailed a client and told them I was the assistant. And typo or not, he actually said I was the “assistance”. And I was livid. Livid even at this moment that I am writing this. I’m not completely sure why I am so mad because there is nothing wrong with being an assistant. If an assistant is what your job title is, that is.

I am on the train this morning and I see a man in a suit with a folder in his hand. I can tell he is going to an interview by the look on his face. He doesn’t seem to have any confidence and it makes me sad. I feel like he is sweating too, and we just can’t see it.  The need to prove yourself to other people has become a form of disrespect. There was a time when going in for a job interview was the perfect way to showcase your skills, but in this day and age, it has become something created to ensure that the rich stay richer and the poor can’t prosper. The wait for an answer to whether or not they thought you were good enough is torturous, only to get an email saying “we found another candidate who fit the needs of the company” even though you knew going in that you were more qualified.  Fascinating that being overqualified is sometimes worse than not being qualified at all because you cannot be groomed”.  With the strain that the working class feels, why would anyone choose to move past welfare and section 8 when they can have the government give them money, pay for their food and home while they hang out with their friends (I believe government assistance is good if needed, but not if it is motivation to never work)?  What motivation does the average person have to get up every day and fight with people on the train or in traffic to go to a job they hate where people who make more money than them disrespect them, only to go home to spend a few minutes with their families?  What’s worse is that they go to sleep and do it all over again every day until they retire (or get fired)!  Their kids grow up and get raised by the streets or the nanny or grandma…. AND WHAT DO YOU HAVE TO SHOW FOR IT?  Another line on your resume…..

Mediocrity seems to be synonymous with comfort.  Spend 8 hours a day doing something so that you can get a paycheck, benefits and 2 weeks of paid vacation. To have enough time to drop your kids off at school in the AM and give them a bath at night.  Mediocrity is a “four letter word” to me, I want to be more than mediocre.  Someone called me an assistant the other day and I was offended. Not because of being called an assistant, but because of how assistants get treated. How assistants are viewed and treated even though they know how to do everything, normally more than the person or people they assist.  The value and respect of hard work has dropped significantly and people do not care how you work as long as you make money for them. Employers want to save dollars so they lay people off, give more work to the employees that “survived” and when you get too tired or too frustrated, they just find someone who will replace you.  As someone who has been laid off before due to my position being cut, I can say that it is damaging to the ego.  I know the company wasn’t worth it and I told everyone I “got off the titanic before it sank”, but my ego was still a little bruised because I knew how much I did for the company. I knew how much they depended on me because I was a hard and good worker, but because they wanted to keep all the money at the top, they let the “little person” at the bottom go with little regard to the responsibilities that I had.

“Follow your dreams or you will end up working for someone who did.”  Yea, I don’t know who said it but it it sadly factual.  I have a coworker and friend who is one of the best and hardest working people in the entire company.  Seriously, she knows someone from every department so if u need help, she knows who to call, first AND last name!  She works harder than people who make quadruple what she does monetarily and with her skills and mindset, she should be somewhere closer to the top with a title that will earn her more respect.  But it’s not about skill set unless you work for yourself. Unless you are in control of what you put out, people will always dictate how successful you can be. That coworker, who is more qualified than most at many of the positions in our department had to INTERVIEW for a position everyone knew she was overqualified for.  The people who interviewed her know more than anyone in the company how well she would do in the position. She isn’t quiet about her feelings and concerns, so when it comes to knowing how she would react, they knew what she was about. BUT SHE STILL HAD TO INTERVIEW…. considering her background, I’m not sure why she had to (besides politics of course!)

My father does interviews. On the radio and for documentaries I mean. I don’t think he has dressed up and gone for an interview in maybe 30 years and if he did, his reputation proceeded him.  I aspire to be like that when I grow up. Not in any particular order, but I hope to make my work so exemplary that it speaks for me. So many people choose to be mediocre and the fascination with being average is beyond me. Turning 65 and having been a worker my whole life is utterly unappealing to me.  I want to make a difference in my life and in the lives of other people. I want to make a difference in my community.

I just don’t want life to stop at mediocre.  Mediocre is that glass ceiling.  I am not good with illusions.  GLASS CEILINGS are illusions created by people who would not be successful when judged based on actual skill.  FAITH  in yourself allows you to see the glass ceiling and know that it is not your floor.  Buildings have ceilings…. Don’t take the elevator or the stairs…. STEP OUTSIDE [the box] and go for a walk…. The Sky [is the limit] and the Sky has no ceiling…. THE SKY IS THE LIMIT AND IT HAS NO CEILING, BUT ONLY IF YOU ARE WILLING TO STEP OUTSIDE THE BOX.

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