Andrew Penny, December 6 2022

The Dreaded Plateau of Mediocrity

I was chatting with Graham Findlay this morning (he owns 3G-Energy.com) who told me that he is learning to play the guitar. He explained that most learners hit what he called the “plateau of mediocrity”. It’s where you think you are pretty good, and you get feedback from your friends and colleagues who confirm, that you are pretty good. It feels great. And so, after the struggle to reach the dizzying heights of ‘pretty good’, we plateau and cruise along as ‘pretty good’. 

There is nothing wrong with ‘pretty good’. My ‘pretty good’ skiing is just fine by me. But I would never want to be a ‘pretty good’ business consultant. I constantly push my limits, join or create peer groups that challenge me, participate in consulting conventions to see what the best in the world are doing. 

Think for a moment who your peer groups are? It may be in your hobbies, education, sports, business, or your life in general. If you are the top performer in your group, you will likely become complacent. You’ll have delusions of grandeur and become a know-it-all. If you move into a new group, not only will you gain humility, you will open a pathway to next level performance.  

Most of us spend the majority of our waking time involved in our businesses – and most of that is spent running the business. But what about becoming a better leader, manager, CEO? Ask yourself who you hang out with. Are you in the top of your class? Are you learning? 

As a business advisor, I strive to help business leaders discover these new pathways and to continually set the bar higher by providing new ideas, new perspectives, new context and avoid the ‘plateau of mediocrity’.  

Talk to you next time, 


Written by

Andrew Penny


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