As many of us are excitedly anticipating the upcoming sequel to The Incredibles, I think of a line from the first movie that easily stuck to audiences.
Bob: They keep creating new ways to celebrate mediocrity.
Bob was never satisfied with living a status quo life with a solid paying job in a suburb. Comfort was his plague. Living in mediocrity was a disease and nothing to be celebrated over. Doing something great, brilliant, and superb that resulted in helping others was the definition of heroism. But the drive to do something super – be super – led him to listening to police scanners to bust up a crime instead of going bowling. Being super means never remaining in the comforts of mediocrity. The problem is mediocrity tends to feel so nice and rising above it is a sacrifice.
A quote from Jim Collins’ Built to Last also stuck with me and I think resonates with Bob, “Staying in the comfort zone does little to stimulate progress.” Progress doesn’t come from comfort. It comes from being uncomfortable, unsettled, and non-complacent. The world didn’t advance from comfort. Human flourishing doesn’t come from a satisfaction with mediocrity. Forward movement and amazing betterment of human civilization comes from those who dream, fantasize, and imagine and from those same individuals who step out to pursue the fantastic. Progress comes from those who dare to change what is wrong, but even more so from those who dare to change what is not wrong. True heroism requires risk, the risk of losing the comfort of mediocrity.
I believe the heroic mentality is how artists tend to think. Artists try to rise above mediocrity, creating wasn’t hasn’t been created before, offering a new perspective, challenging conventions, inspiring audiences to greater heights than could’ve been expected, and communicating vital messages that are difficult to receive.
I think within the spectrum of our current reality between the 20-something school shootings to the way we daily drive and interact with strangers, our world needs more heroes. We need more people who will adopt the mindset of rising above mediocrity, which means a genuine willingness to sacrifice the comfort of conventionality. We need more people who are willing to be not mediocre about love, mercy, kindness, justice, righteousness, truth, and morality. We need people who will be super in these areas. Be radical with love. Be bold with kindness. Be appalling with justice and righteousness. Be inspiring with morality and mercy. Be robust with truth. In so doing, we will stimulate progress – not the progress of science and technology but of humanity. Rise above mediocrity.