Revelling in Spectacular Mediocrity

How to get more comfortable with growth and discomfort

Posted: 14/02/2023

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5 minutes

Who should read this?

students, veterinarians, vet nurses, vet techs, employers.


Melanie Barham


Global content

Revelling in Spectacular mediocrity

I like being awesome at things.  I choose things I’m awesome at to do frequently.  I don’t enjoy being terrible at things; it’s uncomfortable and it sucks. And when I try new things, I’m NOT awesome at the new skill, and that makes me uncomfortable.

 There I said it.  

Any other perfectionists in the room?  Maybe you’re the same?    

My coach and I talked about this narrative, and how to combat it when we developed my learning plan.  She recommended that I seek out situations where I’m uncomfortable as a matter of importance. Ugh!  No!!  

Like anyone else, I have to challenge myself to enter growth and change mode, where I won’t be the expert and I may not be good at navigating it. But the act of learning something new and sitting with the discomfort of not being the expert and risk of failure is what makes us good at doing more new things.  It’s the same feeling right?  Surviving and thriving in frequent low stakes new situations allows us to adapt to change more easily.  We’re able to scaffold, or build upon the experience we had where we tried something new and nothing disastrous happened. We can actively build upon our experiences with more and more confidence in ourselves.

 Essentially, “Ah right, I could handle discomfort of change and practicing a new skill, so in this similarly uncomfortable situation, I will draw upon the skills I learned to get through the other scenarios.”  

Sounds amazing, but how do you do that?  I’d like to suggest something I’ve been trialing out: taking time to revel and sit in spectacular mediocrity in a safe space.

I have a group of neighbours where we often meet up to be perfectly mediocre at things.  We go for cross-country ski sessions that are slow.  We make imperfect macrame.  We make hilarious mugs. It’s fun, and I love spending time with them. Two weeks ago, we did a class on watercolour marker mandala. The lady who taught us is a high school teacher. She teaches at a school where students live in as they attend high school and recover from addictions. Her focus with us, like it must be with her students, was on playing with the colors.  On finding cool combinations.  And learning, exploring, and trying.  

The mandalas were imperfect with flaws everywhere. Despite this, I felt energized and my work and resilience was high for the next week.

Upon reflection, any time I have taken time to be spectacularly mediocre (or very bad in some cases), I’ve built my resilience to be able to try bigger things, and felt SO much more ready and less stagnant and afraid.  Believe me, I’ve been mediocre at many many things including ukulele, podcast editing, dog obedience (see community posts about bad dog), beekeeping, woodworking, skiing, snowboarding, and now watercolour markers.) 

I’m going to continue to fulfill my prescription and try new skills simply so I can be mediocre at them and break down my aversion to it.  It seems to be a pretty important prescription for my personal growth.  Wanna join me?  

What ways do you practice discomfort?  What have recently learned and been “spectacularly mediocre” at? 

If you are feeling challenged with the discomfort of taking the next step in your career, high five, you’ve joined the club.  You may find support within our communities (free to join), or like I do, with a coach.  

Happy exploring,


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