Your new mantra at work

This is for the A-students out there. It's time to be mediocre. To give 80% instead of 110.

I know, I know, that sounds like crazy talk.

If you've been striving for gold stars since way back giving only 80% can feel like failure. You might as well do nothing than risk being overlooked during the next round of promotions, even if you don't really want one. A promotion is the closest thing most of us get to gold stars as an adult.

Here's why this is your new mantra at work: giving 80% provides room to figure out what you would rather be doing. Better still, room to do more of what you already know in your heart is the answer.

Granted it can mean not being sought after by colleagues, and even friends, to be the one saving the day on tough last minute assignments. You get a lot of last minute calls, don't you? It may sting in the beginning when this starts to happen, because you've trained yourself to recognize being needed as being successful.

It will be worth it. On the other side is enjoying what you do and being appreciated for who you are. Not the responsible person to call in last minute, not the A-student striving for the sake of striving, but an intelligent, creative...what would you love to be appreciated for?

Choosing to do 80% at your day job means you get to figure out the answer to that, while still keeping your job. Fear will tell you that you could lose your job if you do less, so let's get that one out of the way. You're still showing up and doing your work. The majority of employees all over the world settle happily into 60-80% output. You just never considered that an option, until now.

Save 110% for what you really love, and give everything else 80.


Take a page out of my client Katy Craig's work playbook, an A-student all-star turned 80 percent convert. She is also one the most silly fun, laugh out loud, dream big and go after it people I've ever met: "If I got an assignment that made my stomach sink, I'd just ask myself, 'What's 80 percent look like here?' and say my motto, 'I'm mediocre, goddamnit!'"

What does 80% look like? That's for you to figure out. It may begin with not answering emails immediately as they arrive even while sitting at your desk, and shift to leaving your phone behind while out with loved ones and not worrying one bit!

If you want extra credit, here is an advanced mantra courtesy of Clive Thompson, author of Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing Our Minds for the Better. Over lunch one day we were talking about being mediocre and he shared a story from one of his first jobs. There was so much to do and a staff of one, him, to do it all. He decided to take the pressure off by creating a stock answer for whenever his boss arrived with more work: "This can be done poorly or not at all."

When he said that, my jaw dropped. I mentioned this was advanced, at the gold-star edge. Whether you say this out loud or to yourself it puts the power of heart and head space back in your hands.

What do you say A-students, are you willing to be mediocre to go after the life you really want?

Tell us:: what does 80% look like in your world?

And if you need help, from one A-student to another, get on my calendar for a free phone consultation.