Does Mediocrity Reign Supreme?

So Rick and I were talking about passion for your work. Do you love what you do? How badly would you want to change to actively go out and find a better alternative to the job the current have (and maybe hate)?

So here’s a quick straw poll – what percentages do you think define the marketplace:

  • % of people that love what they do?
  • % of people that would love to love their work?
  • % of people that would rather put forth a mediocre performance at a job they don’t really like than work harder to find something they love?

My guess based on discussions is:

  • ~ 10%. I think this is largely public services oriented professionals, that have chosen to make a career serving others (teachers, librarians, social workers),  and is probably true of a smattering of others.
  • 30-50%. I think that “love your work” gets a lot of lip service, but probably isn’t as big a motivation to changing one’s work life as a layoff, relocation, death/ marriage/ birth of a child. I think that for most, professional changes are the result of major life events, or a bigger brass ring, rather than driven by passion. Naturally, this potentially changes when one retires from their career, and considers a more giving-back second career.
  • < 20%. I think Rick would argue a higher percentage, but I’m hoping that inertia and apathy don’t take a bigger bite than 1-in-5. Can you imagine a 2-in-5 ratio, where most meetings you go into have a 40% apathy rate, and folks would rather be home watching tv? Yikes.

Interested in your thoughts and logic.

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5 Responses to Does Mediocrity Reign Supreme?

  1. Amy says:

    I think your first two numbers are spot on (or maybe a tiny bit optimistic). I definitely think #3 is too optimistic. In my experience in corporate America, more than 2-in-5 people really would be home watching TV than in the meetings. That’s partly why meetings are so broken. 🙂

  2. Amy says:

    Really would *rather*, that is.

  3. Toby Lucich says:

    So better than 40% of people that I have contact with in a business setting would rather be at home, drooling on their slippers?

    That is a bit disconcerting. I agree that most meetings miss their point.

  4. Amy says:

    I dunno about the drooling part, but I think most people view work the way they always viewed school: “It’s, eh, ok [OR totally lame]. There are about a million other things I’d much rather be doing. ”

    Most people I’ve met just simply aren’t committed to being awesome at anything, or if they are, it’s not work.

    I’ve never personally been employed in a large company, but as a consultant I come in contact with them a lot, working on-site, becoming part of the teams. My other type of clients are tiny little startups. The mix of people who care/people who’d rather be watching Everybody Loves Raymond is much worse in the big companies.

  5. Amy–I think your comment about people not being committed to being awesome at anything is spot on.

    As a supervisor who works a lot with new employees I’m always shocked and a little horrified at how little pride people take in their work.

    My work isn’t especially glamorous. My co-workers and I often joke about how we’re just well-paid key-punch monkies but I still have enough respect for myself and for the people that use my company’s product that I put in 100% (or at least 85% if I’m in a bad mood) every day of the week.

    Mark Sanborn wrote an interesting book called The Fred Factor> that specifically addresses the passion (or lack thereof) that people have toward their work.

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