I was recently with a group of people, and one of them asked a question that just blew me away: Do you have the courage to be mediocre?

This question conjoins two seemingly un-relatable concepts: bravery and the commonplace.

How can there be “courage” in mediocrity? Shouldn’t we be ashamed of being mediocre?

Imagine a group of the most beautiful people in the world – sitting together on a TV show, their hair and makeup done by professionals, the lighting perfect, jewelry gleaming. I know of no one who looks like this in real life. And yet millions of people feel inadequate because they don’t look exactly like these TV stars. Instead of feeling bad about ourselves for not being perfect, we must learn to have the courage to be mediocre.

By the way, this is what the 77% Weekly is all about – my newsletter that goes out 40 out of 52 times a year (40/52 = 77%). We must be able to make mistakes. We must not beat ourselves up for not getting 100% all the time. We’re human. There is no such thing as perfect. (Even those TV stars suffer from something.)

My family and I were watching the movie Finding Nemo. It’s a wonderful movie! But do you know how many people had to work, for how many years, to make it so wonderful? I think the final product – the beautiful, polished, finished film – gives us unrealistic expectations of what’s possible. (Watch the end credits of any movie, and see how many people were involved in it!)

We assume things should come easily to us, or that if they don’t come easily – something’s wrong with us. Not that we shouldn’t strive – but that we should have the courage to be mediocre sometimes.

There’s a great quote by Rabbi Tarfon in the Talmud: It is not incumbent upon you to complete the work. But neither are you free to desist from it.

He’s saying you don’t have to be perfect. But at the same time, you can’t just slack off and not try.

Spiritual-religious advice: Have courage. Be mediocre.

With love, Rabbi Brian

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