Friday, September 4, 2009

Mediocre Minds Think Alike

The 1894 legislation making Labor Day a national holiday essentially worked out to be a hasty bureaucratic effort to appease American labor forces after the militia opened fire on striking railroad workers in the Midwest. Few today, however, would expect that bit of ancient history to influence procession motifs along the nation’s holiday parade routes.

For many contemporary Americans, Labor Day is simply considered the symbolic end of summer, and a day of rest from the laborious task of looking for a new job.

For those a little more prone to introspection, this legislated day of rest can offer pause for reflection about what sort of creative approach might be needed these days in order to secure substantial and sustainable employment during the festerings of a chronic corporate dumb down overrun with mediocrity.

When the bar is never set above mediocre, it’s quite easy to be lulled into a false sense of competence…until one is downsized, that is.

Truth is, consistent guidelines and standards that support an entire organization as its staff works toward a common and (hopefully) profitable purpose are not only necessary, but can be mutually beneficial as well.

Obviously balance and common sense haven't always prevailed. Too many rules and suppressive regulations imposed by corporate brass onto its workforce have served not only to firmly secure the power held by those making the rules (since they are typically the exception to the rules), but appear to be the inspiration behind the mediocre brainstorming that has filled corporate think tanks across the board.

Hollywood satirists have yet to fail in scripting profound dialogue that truly mirrors this anomaly of corporate culture in a way that ironically makes us laugh about it.

We laughed when Jim from “The Office” said, “I’ve always subscribed to the idea that if you really want to impress your boss, you go in there and you do mediocre work, half-heartedly.” We also laughed in “Big” when Jon Lovitz’s “Scotty” said to Tom Hanks’ “Josh”, “Listen, what are you trying to do? Get us all fired? You gotta slow down. Pace Yourself.”

The propagation of modern day mediocrity has unconventionally integrated old world Machiavellian principles to culivate a corporate “crab bucket” mentality in the workplace. Sure we’d all like to see our friends and colleagues get ahead, but not too far ahead. So we work hard to never outshine our corporate comrades lest we forget that the tallest blade of grass is the first to get cut. And those clutching the ladder’s top rung continue to rule with little concern for those clinging to the bottom rung, for those at the bottom are too busy taking each other out vying for a position to ever challenge the powers roosting at the top.

We looked in the rear view mirror while listening to our iPod and watched the CEOs of the music industry spin 78 RPMs as they whirled to preserve their dominion when creative technology began to weaken their syndicated stronghold. Amazingly, instead of spending their billions on competitive innovation and integration, they chose to invest their dollars in litigation to halt the progress and then try to control it. Perhaps they thought they were too big to fail and didn't need to keep up. Or maybe they just believed the surrounding corporate yes-men spawned out of mediocrity who routinely tickled their executive ears with disconnected reinforcement.

And the music industry clearly isn’t the only industry reeling from the limitations inherent with mediocrity, for mediocrity and creative innovation are incompatible co-workers.

Albert Einstein’s belief that "Great spirits have always encountered violent oppositon from mediocre minds" would rarely find a true innovator and creative thinker in disagreement. So does this mean that when we hit a blockade rĂ©sistance from the prevailing Lemming-Groupthink majority, then maybe we’re really on to something?

For a little mind control, surrender yourself to our ‘In The Rear View Mirror’ July 4, 2009 posting "Carnac the FMRI".

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