OZ - Going for gold in the mediocrity stakes

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Mediocrity Story

Going for gold in the mediocrity stakes

I haven't yet decided on the title of my new book, but I'm torn between Finding the Loser Within and Slow Track to Mediocrity. It will be the first in a new genre I'm about to invent: the anti-motivational book.

Already we're awash in pre-Olympic motivational books. In the past 10 days we've seen two: Laurie Lawrence's and Jane Flemming's. Anyone who's ever competed in the Gulargambone Cup is currently working up a slim volume.

All the books claim that Olympic training provides a blueprint that can be used in every other human endeavour - making friends, building a career, starting a business.

This, of course, is absurd. But we need someone of inspirational mediocrity to say so. I believe I may be that man.

Jane Flemming, in her book, confides that she did 250 sit-ups and 150 press-ups every night. I always aim for 45, and only ever manage 30. Hence my book's punchy subtitle: "How One Man Aimed Low - and Missed."

The point is these "win, win, win" books make life seem pretty awful. Everything is subsumed to the Olympic goal. There's been nothing like it since the Catholic martyrs signed up for 40 years of hairshirts, all for a ticket to heaven.

The books also claim you can be anything you wish to be. This, too, is a load of lies: witness my own shattered dreams of becoming an international swimsuit model. Yes, Richard, just lying awake at night, hoping and dreaming, is not enough.

Admittedly, I'm having trouble getting started on my book, which may be one reason the genre doesn't yet exist. Anyone with the right attitude to write an anti-motivational bestseller just can't be buggered.

Yet the time is right. Twenty years ago, you could rate yourself a success having brought up some kids, paid off a house and held down a job. No longer. The high jump keeps getting higher.

There are dot.com millionaires everywhere; and the newspapers provide at least one a day, just to rub our noses in it.

The style of journalism emphasises just how much money they've made, and in how short a time. "On Tuesday, Mike Dennis launched his new Web browser from his office in suburban Epping. By that evening he'd sold out to Dutch interests, and is now worth a paper $5.3 billion."

Also helpful is the headline, which calculates how much money they've made per hour, just so readers can understand the exact degree of their personal failure.

No wonder people despair. And no wonder they crowd into conferences - like the one at Darling Harbour this week - which promise to create dot.com millionaires.

I'm all for people working hard and trying to do their best. Perhaps there was a time when people needed to be nudged into a little more effort. But surely not now. Already people are working 10- or 11-hour days. Already they are giving their families the fag-ends of their energy. Already there is an absurd undervaluing of the joys and achievements of the normal well-lived life.

An edgy, dissatisfied envy is everywhere. The last thing we need is more "motivating". Hence my new book, video and speech: Finding the Lackadaisical Loser Within.

I see myself on the stage at Darling Harbour Conference Centre, lit by a single spotlight. (My technician couldn't be buggered bringing more.)

"Didn't write much of a speech," I'll begin, the crowd listening intently. "It was too nice a day, so I went to the beach."

There'll be a sharp intake of breath. Admitting a lack of blind, win-at-all-costs ambition in the year 2000 is like letting loose a public fart.

There will be more shocks ahead. "Why be number one when you could be number four or five, and have a more balanced life?" (Nervous laughter in hall; shouts of protest.)

Or: "Why just focus on just one thing when you could try to get satisfaction from moderate achievements in several areas?" (Conference centre staff faint, having never heard anything like it before.)

By the end of the morning, though, I'll have talked them around. People passing Darling Harbour will hear the joyous chanting: "I know I can do it; I know I can be number five."

After that? Well, perhaps I could help as the post-Olympic coach for Australia's team.

I'd meet them individually: "Coming fifth was actually great; you were fabulously fast, and any reasonable society would treasure you for it. But not this one - so you'd better move on."

They'd look up at me - the most famous anti-motivational speaker in the land - willing me to give them new hope, new direction.

I'd speak quietly: "Try not to take that training run this morning. It's going to be tough. But remember: it's just a matter of not putting one foot in front of the other. Now, how hard can that be?"


I've aimed at mediocrity all my life and declare it a success, quite happily too. All this competitive stuff is too much to bother about. I like gazing out over the Southern ocean iceberg scouting. I wonder when the big one comes along. Hope not too soon. It would sully the day's watching. Going for gold in the mediocrity scene means no iceberg sightings is a joy - a bit like Y2K really.

Regards from OZ

-- Pieter (zaadz@icisp.net.au), April 01, 2000


Jeeze Pieter, Maybe these are becoming de rigueur down your way?

Insanity is my only means of relaxation.
Reason to smile: Every 7 minutes of every day, someone in an aerobics class pulls a hamstring.
Women over 50 don't have babies because they put them down and forget where they left them.
One of life's mysteries is how a 2 pound box of candy can make a woman gain 5 lb..
My mind not only wanders, it sometime leaves completely.
The best way to forget all your troubles is to wear tight shoes.
The nice part about living in a small town is that when you don't know what you're doing, someone else does.
The older you get, the tougher it is to lose weight because by then, your body and your fat are really good friends.
Just when I was getting used to yesterday, along came today.
Sometimes I think I understand everything, then I regain consciousness.
Skinny people irritate me! Especially when they say things like, "You know, sometimes I just forget to eat." Hell, I've forgotten my address, my mother's maiden name, and my keys. But I've never forgotten to eat. You have to be a special kind of stupid to forget to eat.
A friend of mine confused her valium with her birth control pills. She had 14 kids, but she doesn't really care.
They keep telling us to get in touch with our bodies. Mine isn't all that communicative but I heard from it the other day after I said, "Body, how'd you like to go to the six o'clock class in vigorous toning?" Clear as a bell my body said, "Listen bitch... do it and die."
The trouble with some women is that they get all excited about nothing and then they marry him.
I read this article that said the typical symptoms of stress are: eating too much, impulse buying, and driving too fast. Are they kidding? That is my idea of a perfect day.
Unashamedly plagiarised !!!

-- Scarlet Breasted (scarletbreasted@hotmail.com), April 01, 2000.

Good one, Pieter. It reminds me of when my second daughter's gymnastics coach said she should train 5 days a week. Say what? *I* wasn't willing to sacrifice MYSELF 5 days a week, let alone HER and her two siblings.

I guess this is "hit bottom" day. All those interested in meeting others on the bottom rung can engage in chat tonight on MSN's Loser's Chat

As though it weren't enough that Sylvester Stallone was mentioned as a LOSER in the above, his MOM has been featured in an article on Rumpolog y If THAT isn't hitting "bottom", I don't know what is!

-- Anita (notgiving@anymore.thingee), April 01, 2000.

The ol' 'rumpology' caper eh? LOL...:o)

-- Pieter (zaadz@icisp.net.au), April 01, 2000.

Thanks, Pieter, LOL

-- Very (Grateful@still.here), April 02, 2000.

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