You know what’s inspiring? Mediocrity. Second-raters. People who, not to put too fine a point on it, just Aren’t Very Good. Nothing lights a fire under my arse than the knowledge that there are people out there reaping great rewards from the merest specks of talent. After all, if they can do it, why can’t I? Why can’t you?
Nobody else seems to see the logic in this. They moon around depressedly trying to find inspiration in Oscar Wilde and Richard Branson and Beyonce. The newly-minted billionaires who appear periodically in the press, blinking in the glaring flashbulbs of blinding success, are getting younger and younger. Tales of programming prodigies, teenage pop sensations and wildly successful entrepreneurs barely out of nappies are, frankly, extremely depressing.
Comparison, as Teddy Roosevelt once so wisely mused, is the thief of joy, but this only really applies to people who are doing much better than you. And there are always going to be a lot of those. Probably millions. So instead, be inspired by mediocrity. In every field there are people who are, really, total balls, and still manage to make a success of it. Of course, some people have natural advantages – wealthy parents, fantastic connections, an easy charm, great tits – but one trait these people almost always share is an unwavering belief in their own mediocre abilities. These are your inspirational people! Look at the arts world. Sure, the world is full of talented people living on a shoestring trying to Make It Happen, but there are also plenty of others who have managed to make a decent living from, well, effectively nothing. The bestseller list is full of people who can spin a good yarn but have no literary talent, there are bloggers who can’t spell properly raking in regular pay cheques, and there are actors who cannot act earning millions for flop after flop.
Take Adam Sandler, for instance, who I’ve always considered an actor of breathtaking mediocrity. According to Forbes magazine, Sandler statistically offers the worst return on movies with an upfront fee of $15 million and a number of stinkers under his belt such as Jack & Jill and That’s My Boy. (I’ve been saying for years that Sandler is about as funny as a cup of cold sick, so it’s quite nice to be proved right by empirical evidence.) Surely, to aspiring thespians, the news that Hollywood’s rich list is open to people who are statistically proven to be dreadful is rather inspirational. If they can do it, why can’t you?
Now, I’m not suggesting that just because Adam Sandler has somehow managed to trade in his meagre talents for a private yacht, you’ll also be sailing the high seas if you join the local amateur dramatics society. Similarly, just because EL James has made squillions of dollars peddling smutty books despite possessing not one ounce of writerly talent, it doesn’t mean that you can easily replicate her success. But it’s nice to know that it’s not beyond the realms of possibility, no? These people are living proof that success is within the grasp of almost everyone. Some of these people have achieved their success through hard graft, some have had the right contacts. Some were just in the right place at the right time, and God knows we can’t all be lucky. But we’ll never know until we try.
I’ve written before about knowing when to quit following your dream. That’s hard advice for when you’re down to the wire; compromising other goals – and your happiness – in pursuit of one objective that just isn’t happening for you at the moment. But when you’re having a crisis of confidence and need an emergency shot of inspiration? Don’t think about your idols. Think about Adam Sandler instead.
Author: Emily Gibson
Emily is an urban adventurer, blogger and
glutton foodie on an epic quest to uncover the best things to eat, drink and do in London. She lives in East London and loves ceviche, cycling and magic shows. Lifelong nemeses include beetroot, beards and wine served in tumblers.