| | | 4 Telltale Traits of Mediocrity

Author / John

I despise mediocrity. I’m never pleased at a job well done. I don’t endlessly bask in my accomplishments. There’s always more to do. Almost to the point that it drives me crazy. I think these are core traits of those that are destined for greatness; and that is my goal. To do something great.

Between the sports teams, social groups, professional groups, and multidisciplinary initiatives I’ve been a part of in my life, I can say with the utmost certainty that I’ve engaged with plenty of mediocre individuals.

And yes, this is a “listicle” and I’m not ashamed. Since mediocrity has been a topic of ridicule recently in John’s recent TTMJ article as well as in our social media, I decided to reflect on what it means to be “mediocre”.

It amazes me how many people jump on and support such a crass statement against “average.” Do all of you people believe you are on a road for greatness? Or are you Mediocre? Average? Ordinary? Basic?
[youtube width=”540″ height=”385″]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dKY0FsUEMyw[/youtube]

Let’s find out:

Getting By

There’s no justification for doing “just enough to get by”. I’ve met plenty of people that are presented with opportunities to do something great and avail themselves, but have failed to do so by only doing achieving the minimum requirements. By the very admission that a job, project, or task was “good enough” implies that more could have been done to make it great. This is mediocre thinking. Why do the bare minimum? Are you not interested in the job? Is it “too hard”? Fuck that. Walk away knowing you smashed it. That you leveraged EVERYTHING you could within your set of resources (time, money, personnel, skill) and your sphere of influence (external factors you can directly control).
[youtube width=”540″ height=”304″]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m4OvQIGDg4I[/youtube]

Willing, wanting, and forever unable

I can’t fucking tell you how many people I’ve interviewed (formally and informally) in my life who WANTED to do a good job, but didn’t know how. Lack of ability is certainly an acceptable reason for being unable to complete a task. But ability can be earned through training. If you are willing and wanting to do the job, but lack the ability, then fucking take the initiative to learn. Your ability can only be limited through a combination of knowledge, experience, and ego. These are all things that you can influence. And if it comes down to not knowing how, then go get a mentor. Someone who’s proven themselves in the specific domain you’re trying to enter.
[youtube width=”540″ height=”405″]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cufQD5Y31ZA[/youtube]


This trait is by far the most irritating. If you and I are at a bar, and you’re telling me a tale of mediocrity, and you justify your lack of greatness by saying “it is was it is” I’m going to fucking Diamond Cut you hard. Life is ripe with opportunity. Will taking advantage of that opportunity help you do something great? Nothing is guaranteed, but there’s only one way to find out.
[youtube width=”540″ height=”405″]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tVBz1EqTAbo[/youtube]

Fear of Failure

This leads into my final observed trait of mediocrity. Fear of failure. The biggest barrier to greatness. It’s so disgustingly cliche; I hate that I’m putting it on this list. The fear of failure itself is NOT the problem. Fuck yeah you should be afraid of failure. The problem is the inability to harness that fear and believe that failure is not an option; the inability to use the fear as a launching pad to greatness. If the fear of failure paralyzes you and is a barrier to taking advantage of new opportunities, then you my friend, are mediocre as fuck.
[youtube width=”540″ height=”304″]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zaQlAHptguM[/youtube]

The call to action here is to, first, educate yourself on the traits of mediocrity. Do you embody any of these traits? If so, you’re one step closer to greatness. This self awareness is critical. Next you must make a decision. You must either step up and make the conscious effort to demolish the mediocre behavioral trait and strive for greatness, or you shrug your shoulders and accept that “it is what it is” and you don’t do a thing.

Statistically speaking, around 68% of us are average. I’m sure there’s some softy reading this article now who’s all “it’s okay to be average” and wants to justify one’s lack of greatness by being dealt a shitty hand of cards. My message to you Mr. Softy is that you can go on believing that, but I refuse to. I think that the world would be a better place if the average person would just strive for greatness. To do so would require courage, discipline, and effort, and unfortunately some people just aren’t cut out for that. Those are the “basic bitches”. The mediocre.
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John Welbourn is CEO of Power Athlete and Fuse Move. He is also creator of the online training phenomena, Johnnie WOD. He is a 9 year veteran of the NFL. John was drafted with the 97th pick in 1999 NFL Draft and went on to be a starter for the Philadelphia Eagles from 1999-2003, appearing in 3 NFC Championship games, and for starter for the Kansas City Chiefs from 2004-2007. In 2008, he played with the New England Patriots until an injury ended his season early with him retiring in 2009. Over the course of his career, John has started over 100 games and has 10 play-off appearances. He was a four year lettermen while playing football at the University of California at Berkeley. He graduated with a bachelor's degree in Rhetoric in 1998. John has worked with the MLB, NFL, NHL, Olympic athletes and Military. He travels the world lecturing on performance and nutrition for Power Athlete. You can catch up with John as his personal blog on training, food and life, Talk To Me Johnnie and at Power Athlete.


  1. Paula on October 5, 2015 at 2:16 pm

    Great article @luke, I love your style!

    • Luke Summers on October 5, 2015 at 2:46 pm

      Thanks Paula!

  2. Steven (a.k.a. Professor Booty) Platek on October 5, 2015 at 2:44 pm

    @luke love this article. Here is one of my favorite TED talks of all time, and while it’s a little less crass, and a lot more touchy feely it exemplifies the point you are making – we are working toward the average and the average is mediocrity. The first graph he presents, the made up data with the outlier – is nothing short of brilliant.


    I might comment on the bane of pursuit of something more than mediocrity, that no one in the PowerAthlete Nation is going to care about: those 68% that are mediocre and for certain those on the other end of the spectrum are not going to like you. And, I am not sure you can teach this stuff. Ambition is like a jealous mistress… she’s always calling you, no matter what the time; the situation; not caring about what you are doing or what you want. She calls. I could, personally, never understand the folks that become content. Content with position, power, physique, etc. I get a lot of flack for this at the college where person after person will ask me things like: “Why do you publish so much?” or “Why do you work out so hard?” I had a good friend that used to ask me “why [I] trained so hard since I had a wife” well I can attest you might not always have a wife (two down: single white male in search of next ex-wife)

    Great article man.

    • Luke Summers on October 5, 2015 at 2:49 pm

      Thanks Steve. I’m on that TED Talk now. I know we’ve talked before on this, but it’s just crazy that your colleagues give you a hard time for crushing it. It should be admired, not criticized.

  3. Nick on October 6, 2015 at 12:50 am

    Inspiring stuff.
    Steve makes a good point, people like to bring you down for pushing yourself.
    I stand at work (helps my recovery, stops me getting seriously tight), it took months for the jokes to stop. I train every lunch break, ‘why do you have to go every day’. I don’t partake in eating every piece of shit that’s passed around the office. The looks continue. The housemate that laughs when I go to sleep for 9 hours at half 9/10, rather than sitting in front of the TV. The list is never ending.
    They can stick to their circle of average, constantly moaning but not acting. If my actions make them feel bad. Well, screw them they can step up if they want.

    • Luke Summers on October 6, 2015 at 8:55 am

      When I was a corporate monkey there was a period where I would eat an enormous pile of veggies, random hunks of meat, and a gallon of milk every day. I mean that was fucking weird but I got JACKED to the point where my boss gave me a raise so I could buy pants that fit because I was distracting a group of ladies that were referred to as “The Luke Summers Fan Club.” No one busted my balls to my face, but I’m sure ppl were rat fucking me around the donut box.

      As you can imagine, the office environment at Power Athlete is much different…

  4. Eric Gough on October 6, 2015 at 9:51 am

    As a high school S&C teacher, the “try-hards” are ridiculed to no end. It’s a sad statement of our current state. I’m 51 & can outwork most of my students on bodyweight work & all except for a few of our big linemen under the bar (I’m all of 190#). The only place they get me is on the track & jumping. The kids pass it off as old man strength–I call them out as it’s a result of hard work.

  5. Steven (a.k.a. Professor Booty) Platek on October 6, 2015 at 11:14 am

    Nick, Eric,

    Yes, remember, at least for me (ions old) way back when it was the lazy shites that were ridiculed. If you didn’t try hard on the field (Ice for me) then you were penalized. I remember my dad telling me if I wasn’t going to try either was he (this, his retort on spending extra time with me on my slap shot!)


    @luke what’d you think of that TED talk… good stuff eh?

  6. Ingo "Joey Swole" B on October 6, 2015 at 1:37 pm

    I now know what a Diamond Cutter is.

    Is this article open to gen-pop? It should be. I fear keeping this behind the pay wall is only preaching to the choir. It takes a certain type of unmediocrity to train with the PA programming.

    • Luke Summers on October 6, 2015 at 2:04 pm

      Yep, wide open to the public. Free as your spirit.

  7. billpain2 on October 6, 2015 at 3:08 pm

    Good stuff as always. Being the freak of the population bettering himself (or herself) will always be mocked in today’s lazy society. At least there are people like Power Athlete follower’s trying to educate and change the youth.

    I think the Fuck Mediocrity should be the next power athlete shirt. I would rep that proudly at my global gym. Us PA’s are already the misfits of the gym world.

    • Luke Summers on October 6, 2015 at 3:23 pm

      We know that Power Athletes will pridefully wear a shirt like this. Which is why you’ll see something coming soon.

  8. Matt Price on October 6, 2015 at 6:16 pm

    @luke great article. One thing I have seen in the fear of failure is that people have no idea what to do when they do fail. Everyone fails at something at some point, it’s how we respond in face of that adversity that shapes us. One statement that I have never liked is the “failure is not an option” well yes it is and if you haven’t failed at something then you’ve never really pushed yourself to find that point.

    • Luke Summers on October 7, 2015 at 7:10 am

      I agree, failure is inevitable for most. But the mindset crafts character. I’d rather go into “battle” with a crew of people who BELIEVE failure is not an option, vs those who are content learning from their mistakes.

  9. Rob Grupe on October 6, 2015 at 8:56 pm

    Good shit, bro!

  10. billpain2 on October 7, 2015 at 7:50 am

    “Success is going from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm.” W. Churchill

  11. Tony Fu on October 8, 2015 at 1:20 pm

    Great stuff Luke, love your style and your moves (ie Diamond cutter)

    Professor Booty – great TED talk. Guy was a little tuned up (gave me anxiety) but his message was awesome.

  12. Zigg on October 9, 2015 at 8:52 am

    So when can we expect a Power Athlete version of the Turkish Star Wars Training? @luke or @mcquilkin doing the moves?

    Great article and to second @ericgough im a hs s&c teacher and the ridicule is amazing. When the girls are stronger than the guys is when it starts to get really good bc then the guys can’t talk shit back!

  13. Rob on October 12, 2015 at 4:01 pm

    I just joined Jacked Street and started working my way through the blog posts. I love this place. I love the no bullshit train hard mentality. The comment about others criticizing you because you train hard and try to actually be better everyday, such dogshit.

  14. Dylan on October 28, 2015 at 7:20 am

    I’m a longtime PA and CFFB lurker, and I’ve never posted to the comments before. But, reading this couldn’t have come at a better time for me. I’ve spent the last four years in the Air Force and now I’m getting to transition back to a civilian life. Having choices for the first time, I get to go back to school and pursue my bachelors in Exercise Science. The second goal would be to go to a CFFB seminar. So I just want to thank you for this article and added motivation. Being in the military has taught me failure is never really an option. The same mindset is obviously in the minds of PA nation. Once again thank you for the great programming, knowledge bombs, and everything else in between.

    Senior Airman Dylan Mullen

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