Are we addicted to mediocrity?

I wish I had written this, or something like this:

The one possible weakness of this otherwise terrific little volume (The Dip, by Seth Godin) is that it is aimed solely at people who are creative, intelligent and want to succeed. Those who are mediocre, unmotivated or just coasting through life will probably not get much from Godin. He is not an elitist, but his message is squarely aimed at those who want to succeed or at least achieve excellence. ~Know a Dip from a Dead End.

I’ve read most of Seth Godin’s output: books, magazine articles, blog posts, etc. I’ve often thought there was a disconnect between the new generation of forward-thinking consumers Seth writes about, and the people I encounter day-to-day.

I was watching television a couple of weeks ago and this commercial came on that made no sense whatsoever. (I don’t remember the product.) I complained about the stupidity of it and the three others watching with me spent ten or a dozen minutes explaining what they felt the advertiser was trying to say. They did not see anything incongruous about having to take ten minutes to explain a 30–second ad spot.

There are at least three reasons why most people accept mediocrity:

  1. We have become inured to bad customer interaction in all its forms. There’s a sense that bad marketing and desultory customer service is the normal cost of doing business. We may be entertained by creative advertising at Super Bowl time, but we expect something that shouts the latest no-interest, no-payment “deal” at our local furniture outlet.
  2. Most people will sacrifice quality for convenience. It doesn’t matter that WestJet has great customer service if the Air Canada flight gets me there 30 minutes earlier. We’ll eat tasteless produce from Safeway rather than spend an extra hour and five more dollars at the farmer’s market.
  3. People find it hard to break with tradition. My grandfather drove a GM product, my father drove a GM product, I’m going to drive a GM product. So what if the bank adds to its already obscene profits by raising my fees, I’ve banked there all my life and I don’t want to change.

These are my quick and dirty thoughts, with lots of room for discussion and debate. I agree with Richard Pachter that there are those that seek constant improvement. But I also think they are in the minority.

How about you? What do you think? Leave your thoughts in the comments.