There is a trend that I’m seeing in not all, but many students and I wonder if you are too. In a world where there is endless opportunity for our up & comers, it seems that the only thing standing in their way sometimes is their own consistency in regards to self-motivation, wherewithal & prudence.
Speaking in generalities, because there are exceptions to every rule, of course, but…I wonder when this generation began accepting the idea that being mediocre is “good enough.” It seems to have been on the rise over the last number of years and it is disheartening to see that “fine” and “passable” are the new GREAT and just getting by meets or sometimes surpasses expectations.
Where are the days when the passion one had for what they were doing drove them, inspired them and pushed them to the no ends of their capabilities? Where is the “want” and desire to succeed and be the best; or at the very least try their very best and feel good about that at the end of the day? Why has complacency taken over? If you ask the majority of students in the course of a day if they really put 100% of themselves in every day of one week, what do you think your own students’ answers would be, honestly? Why does it seem there are always a hundred different excuses why something couldn’t get done, or why they couldn’t be there or why this is or that occurred? What happened to taking responsibility for commitments made and learning time management?
And, what is our role as teachers, studio owners and parents in all this? Are we motivating our students and inspiring them to actually want to succeed consistently? Are we consistently challenging their minds and bodies, teaching consequences for actions and quite frankly not accepting excuses for their own self-acceptance? How do we stay positive role models and ones they look up to? How do we keep that determination and drive going in ourselves and amongst students? How do we show them that the world is theirs for the taking if they have the discipline to acquire it? Ultimately, how do we get them to care about their own lives?
After speaking to Robert Landau, International Motivational Speaker, here are his words of wisdom on teaching our students the golden rule, “victory is rewarded to the most preserving.”
Robert, how and when do you think this trend of mediocrity has started to surface with this new generation?
Great question! I think the issue of mediocrity when it comes to this new generation has always been there. It was there in the generation before, and the generation before and so on. In other words, I believe there have always been things that seek to take us away from striving for greatness in our lives. The key to this is the following; if we allow that to happen. I think that's the important thing, if we allow it. It's always a choice and a choice always begins with you and I. A choice is a fork in the road. Do we veer right on the path of mediocrity or do we veer left on the path to greatness?
What role do you think society and technology has played in this trend?
I think a lot has to do with the technology that our society has created that is of a certain energy. You give off positive energy on a good day of, let's say a "10". The energy of mediocrity that exists all around us I would say vibrates at a "3" at best. Mediocrity is all around us, but is it who we really are?
The media is a prime example. What rating would you give most TV programming today? A "3" or a "10"? I don't know about you but I would say most programming vibrates at about a "3" or lower! Same goes with popular music today. None of us needs to wonder how it is that so much mediocrity exists in society today. Just look at what we are broadcasting to kids and how many hours each day they spend taking, on a conscious and subconscious level, those message in.
I remember with the first Superman movie came out. No sooner than the movie had it's premiere, there was a report of a kid who fell to his death. How so? He thought he was Superman and wanted to fly off the roof of his house.
Most of the content of our media today is just like breathing polluted air. Eventually that takes a toll on the overall health of our body, mind and souls. The medium is the message.
How do you think as teachers, studio owners and parents we are responsible for playing into this trend?
We are only responsible for playing into mediocrity if we allow it to be the only thing we expose this new generation of kids to. To make an attempt to shut it out is futile only because you can find it in so many places. We can be responsible by educating kids on the issue of stopping for a minute, thinking, and making positive choices in their lives...BEFORE they act on something. So much of what goes on today is immediate. We don't think before we make a choice. Then we don't seem to have the energy to deal with the reaction that the choice has forced to us to make. Kids need to understand that being cool isn't all that it's represented to be. Kids need a positive role model and there are few left nowadays. I challenge you to find me a positive role model in the media today that happens to be the same age as our kids! It's up to us. We have the power and the will to overcome any mediocre message we expose ourselves to. We can put this real-life tool of choice into our teachings so kids can empower themselves to make choices that will benefit them and take them far.
How can we keep our students motivated and on the track to NEVER accepting mediocrity?
To me mediocrity is laziness and questionable energy at best. It's kind of like junk food. Many eat it because it's easy, it's there and it's priced accordingly. But is it really what our bodies need? Kids need proper nutrition physically and mentally. What is it in the body that needs to be fed in this way? Our soul. Feed the mind what it needs to develop and grow and you'll have a healthy and amazing individual.
I don't think it's a question of getting kids to NEVER accept mediocrity. If we keep them away from something because we tell them it's bad, they'll want to check it out even more. That's only human. I think we need to show them what each one FEELS like, mediocrity or greatness...and then ask them to choose between the two.
If we as teachers teach on a mediocre level, our students have no choice but to mirror what we're feeding them. If you give them something to aspire to, you activate their creativity, their drive and the will to succeed. Why give the body potato chips when it's crying out for a green shake! Not that there's anything wrong with potato chips but I think everyone would agree that one feeds the body and gives it the message, "I care about you, I want you to grow and always be healthy" more than the other, no?
And so it is with our students. If you are motivated to give your students the gift of something great to aspire to as opposed to the easy level of mediocrity, they'll get the message right away. It's the difference between challenging a soul to grow or turning on the TV and having them sit in front of it for eight hours. What I'm getting at here is that it's always a choice. Nothing happens by accident. It's up to us to always do the best we can to motivate and inspire, and that has nothing to do with mediocrity. Can you hope to change everyone? No. It's not about mass change. It's all about putting a teeny-tiny spark of greatness into each soul and then it's up to them to take it from there. A spark eventually turns into a flame which burns on from there.
How can they maintain their own internal drive and passion as they grow into adults?
By always remembering that they have you as an example. I'm always stunned at how many kids remember me years after I see them again. The smile they have on their faces were the same smiles I left them with years ago. That shows me that kids today are hungry for positive role models. It also shows me that they never forget. Today, more than ever, you have the opportunity to totally make a difference in your students lives. If and when you do, they'll never forget you. In fact, they'll spend a good amount of their lives wanting to be just like you all because you cared to share something vital with them; showing them what it is to be great as opposed to barely so-so!
How do we inspire others to care and be successfully fulfilled in their own lives?
By being a positive role model to them. Are we perfect? No, far from it. But if we teach and lead from the heart, kids get it right away. There is no mediocrity when you teach and lead from the heart. It's just honest and pure communication, something that we don't have enough of these days. Part of the obligation of being a dance teacher is to show kids that they can achieve anything they set their minds out to achieve. There's no mediocrity in that!
How can we keep ourselves inspired in our own lives in order to set an example for our kids?
By being aware. By caring. By knowing the difference in how mediocrity and positivity feel. Notice I said "feel" and not "think". Feeling things goes much further than thinking about things.
We can also inspire ourselves by making a conscious choice of living life from the heart. By smiling whenever it's totally possible. These are simple things but they are huge when we, as role models, pass them on to those we love to educate. What is the process of education really? It's teaching our fellow humans something that they don't think they know or have. It's not only what you decide to teach them but how you end up doing it. That's the difference between mediocrity and greatness. It's the difference between being passionate about something and being bored with something. We all have the energies of both available to us on a daily basis. It's up to us to choose what path we will talk down. Whatever path we choose, others will follow.
Any final words on advice on the topic?
Never forget who you really are and how much what you are doing means to kids. Don't forget yourself in the process. You can't show others how cool it is to walk the path of greatness if you don't believe you're on it yourself. Be good to yourself. Give yourself time each and every day just for you. Don't question if you're good enough. You're here for a reason and that has everything to do with greatness. Mediocrity schmeediocrity!!!!!
Robert Landau is an International Motivational Speaker that appears regularly at the DTW Conference every year. He is also a co-author of the "It's Your Turn - The Blue Print for Success" book series along with Steve Sirico and Angela D'Valda Sirico. Robert's best-selling online meditation course is available at www.The4MinuteMeditator.com.