It’s Time To Stop Being Mediocre

By Martha Sigargök-Martin | Get Inspired

May 09

You're Mediocre

Just kidding... But...

DO YOU THINK you're mediocre?

If you do, then it's a sign you have to work a little harder on yourself. Whether on your self-esteem or on your skills.

On the other hand, if you're reading those lines chances are that you have a high standard for yourself.

However, in both case the question is...

Do You Tolerate Mediocrity?

Do you consume mediocrity just because everybody else does it?

Do you avoid talking about the "mediocrity"- elephant in the room?

Or do you belong to those who think that everybody else sucks and you're a genius?

If so but even though, it's not what you think,

Chances are that you're blind to your own mediocrity.

For the reason that being smart isn't only a prerequisite to understanding that you have blind spots, it's also not enough.

Because it takes a lot of balls to take an honest look in the mirror. 

And we're also kind of wired by nature to see ourselves more gloriously than we really are. However, that varies from individual to individual.

In fact, the dumber someone is, the higher he/she overrates him/herself. It's called the Dunning-Kruger effect.

Before I go further, let me tell you a little story...

A Litte Story About Mediocrity

Yesterday began for me at 3 Am. I tried to stay in bed but got up shortly before 4 pm and started to research. This time isn't unusual for me. Sometimes I wake up between 4 and 5 Am.


Yes, you read well. And no, I'm not giving you a lecture about meditating at 4 in the morning and about the fact that you're a weak lazy ass if you don't.

I'm telling you that because yesterday was one of those moments where I asked myself again that night, why on earth I started this whole thing with the film blog.

Last year I spent at least six months thinking that I hated films, I couldn't get by a theatre without experiencing shortness of breath or think about festival invitations without experiencing stomachache. In addition, I've developed an aversion for writing reviews.

Yesterday was such a moment where I asked myself again if I should shut the whole thing down.


In those moments I like to watch inspiring material.

And I watched a few interviews with a young but prolific and world-class director whose work I admire very much. You'll know who I'm talking about soon enough.

As I was watching those I thought while he was speaking that I could relate to almost everything he was saying, from prices awarded for political reasons to condescending films made by bourgeois about lower classes.

Talented and smart directors like him are the reason why I wanted to do the whole Martha's Film Corner thing in the first place.

But one of the reasons his work stands out so much isn't only because it's brilliant and profound, but because it stands out in the middle of mediocrity.

Let me explain what I mean by that.

Mediocrity arises when the majority determines what's hot and what's not and nobody notices anymore. And sorry to break the news but it happens in the world of independent cinema as much as in the world of the big productions world, especially if official institutions are involved.

We are so used to mediocre complacent stuff that a film that has a decent production value, actors that don't suck and an "okay"-screenplay feels like it's good.

A Counterexample of Mediocrity

The director I was talking about above is Xavier Dolan. You may like his work or not, but you can't deny one thing: It's remarkable.

It stands out because Xavier Dolan isn't wasting time to look at how everybody else does it but try to pursue the highest standard for himself.

In addition to his talent, he seems to have a high work ethic.

And that's what makes the whole difference, because...

Being Exceptional Is Hard Work

We're all average in lots of things but I'm also convinced that every one of us has special skills in something.

Fact is, that even if we have a talent for something, it's worth nothing if we don't work on it.

And that's where the complacency comes in.

Now, don't understand me wrong, I'm all for putting unperfect things out into the world rather than doing nothing but I also think that if you expect. extraordinary results you need to put extraordinary work into it.

And most people stop right there.

They do rather mediocre things or what everybody else does than putting the hard work in to constantly improve and get exceptionally good at what they do.

Of course, it's not an obligation to be exceptional. In fact, wanting to be exceptional is kind of self-centered. But it's understandable.

Being okay with being average, is also probably a sign of maturity, provided that you're aware of your own mediocrity.

However, it becomes a problem when you expect to be seen as exceptional but you're not ready to put the hard work into it. Or worse, you're completely blind to your own mediocrity.

And so are lots of independent filmmakers.

When Filmmakers and Artists Think They're Exceptional

But are unimaginative, lazy and complacent, and on top of it, backed up by institutions that care more about political statements and who's who than about quality,

You get average and boring stuff that is overrated, and praised for no reason.

You're trained, as an audience, to be satisfied with mediocrity and repetition. And trained as an independent filmmaker or artist to copycat what has been done a gazillion times before.

And I think it's wrong.

Excellence can't be reached every time but if you want to be seen as an exceptional artist you have to aim for it. Otherwise, you're not allowed to complain.

Harsh words, I know.

Find Your Courage and Try to Put Yourself in the Shoes of Your Audience

Of course, what I mean by that isn't that you should make a film like one would make a product, but that having a little interest for your audience if you expect them to take time to watch your films, isn't a bad thing.

To illustrate my point I'll tell you a little secret...

Meanwhile, the first thing I worry about when I go watch films at festivals is to find a sit on the side where I can get out any time without disturbing the rest of the audience.

Isn't it sad?

Yes, I don't even expect that's going to be good anymore.

Then I sit at my desk and write a boring, polished and sucky review that nobody wants to read because I don't want to hurt people's feeling. A reason why, by the way, they are almost no more reviews on this blog.

And this is quite bitter to say, considering that I'm actually a film fan.

In Conclusion

If you aspire to stop being mediocre, you can follow those three obvious but practical tips:

  1. Get real feedback
  2. Understand that, if you're not satisfied with what you've done, chances are that you can do better.
  3. Have the courage to put the work in.

What are the three things you could do to get better? Please, leave a comment in the section below the related posts!

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About the Author

Hey! I'm Martha, and I help creative people understanding and solving mental and creative blocks through blog posts about film, series, and creativity, as well as through a creative coaching website (marthasm.com) just dedicated to this topic.