Stop trying to be so epic

I don’t usually post on matters LinkedIn, but on reflection, having recently logged in to my dusty account, I’m compelled to share my excitement at just how humbled, honoured, and beyond inspired everyone in the professional working world is feeling today.

It’s hard not to be a little intimidated knowing that so many professionals achieve truly extraordinary things, in so few incredible years, among so many humbled observers, so grateful for the many learnings.

Perhaps I’m working in the wrong business. Recent years have been, well, quite hard. I’m thankful – when I get paid. People for most part compliment my work, but I’m still waiting for it to be heralded as extraordinary. And more than a few job briefs are quite humbling, if only because I agreed to do the work for so little money.

I get it. We take the blue pill for the pleasure of a career development hallucination, where average is invisible and epic-ness is everywhere.

Because who’s got time for ordinary when there are so many uplifting finest moments to share and celebrate. Moments befitting a team player, an asset, the ideal candidate for promotion, or someone reluctantly looking to take the next step in their storied career …how can I ever repay you (ideally ‘you’ should name check the CEO or other senior leader) for your guidance and support? Humbling etc, etc.

Hang on a minute. If everything is epic, then nothing is epic. It’s all the same, which, by definition, is ordinary. All those breakthroughs, that amazing talent, resilience, those ‘learnings’ – ordinary. Gifted mathematicians among us confirm that, statistically, most people are in the fattest part of the bell curve. We’re ordinary average people.

Go ahead, be the Dalai Lama of inspirational career quotes, the Warren Buffet of winning stock picks, the Mother Teresa of empathy, or the Lance Armstrong of athletic achievement (oops, busted).

But then most of us go home to ordinary families to eat an ordinary dinner, fuss with the cat, berate the dog, empty the dishwasher, and snore-cough on the couch in front of the TV.

We’re unafraid of mediocrity at home, which makes sense. The stakes are lower. Leave your dirty dishes in the sink – what’s the worst that can happen?

What’s more, your fellow householders will be filled with the urge to slash your face with a butter knife the moment you act out your trumped up career development theatrics. Go on, pepper the dinner table conversation with those powerful insights from that whitepaper you never read but forwarded to your agreeable followers – see how that goes.

Let’s blame social media conditioning for the compulsion to broadcast our manufactured epic-ness. LinkedIn is simply another side to our virtual lives where the charade plays out.

But the lust for appearing better, more humble, excited (so on, so forth) than we actually are, is damaging. Because it feeds the notion that the only worthwhile aspects of our lives must be truly remarkable, and that anything less – anything ordinary or average – is worthless, perhaps even failure. And if that’s how we think, then most people around us will suck.

What a lonely place to be.

Take the red pill.