I recently challenged a client that the standards they had set for the performance of our work were not being reciprocated. Suddenly they’d gone from wanting “the best” to being quite comfortable with “OK”.

The thing about building and then protecting brand equity is that there is no room for OK.

The situation made me think of a 2008 post from Seth Godin titled The forces of mediocrity:

Maybe it should be, “the forces for mediocrity”…

There’s a myth that all you need to do is outline your vision and prove it’s right—then, quite suddenly, people will line up and support you.

In fact, the opposite is true. Remarkable visions and genuine insight are always met with resistance. And when you start to make progress, your efforts are met with even more resistance. Products, services, career paths… whatever it is, the forces for mediocrity will align to stop you, forgiving no errors and never backing down until it’s over.

If it were any other way, it would be easy. And if it were any other way, everyone would do it and your work would ultimately be devalued. The yin and yang are clear: without people pushing against your quest to do something worth talking about, it’s unlikely it would be worth the journey. Persist.

The simple fact is that mediocrity is most people’s default mode. Challenging that is, well, challenging.