Behavior Economy

The trivialization of mediocrity

The trivialization of mediocrity

"Errare humanum est, perseverare autem diabolicum"

Saint Augustine

The world has evolved in many ways, especially in technology and on the social agenda, by recognizing the need for equal rights and representation for minorities. However, it seems to have evolved on other issues. I'm referring to the acceptance of defeat, or the "trivialization" of wrongdoing, to use Hanna Arendt's expression when describing the actions of the Nazi criminal Adolf Eichmann, who was brought to trial in Israel.

According to Arendt, Eichmann was not a bloodthirsty monster, but an obedient and zealous bureaucrat with no empathy for his victims. Arendt lays bare the Nazi state's ability to equate the extermination policy of the concentration camps with the mere fulfillment of bureaucratic activity, which is how Eichmann viewed his work. Why condemn a civil servant who was dedicated, obedient, met targets and complied with the current legal order? Obviously, Eichmann was sentenced to death for his crimes, and the "banality of evil" was no excuse for his acquittal.

In life, defeat and mistakes are part of evolution and the formation of character. But just as you have to learn from defeats, you can't tolerate mistakes being naturalized. Someone who isn't bothered by a mistake or a defeat, and doesn't learn a lesson from it, is a complacent idiot. Humanity has evolved in the scientific field due to the nonconformity and resilience of exponents such as Isaac Newton and Galileo Galilei, to name but two.

On a daily basis, however, we still come across this kind of passive, bureaucratic attitude and a lack of dissatisfaction with injustices and unachieved results. Those who merely meet targets, who even though they know what is right, cling to the institution's bureaucracy to avoid making a decision that could earn them explanations in the future. They are the cowards who apply the famous brocade: why do it and have to explain, if it's enough not to do it?

In public institutions, we live in a time when the public interest has been trivialized in various ways.

This is a value that cannot be vulgarized. However, we have seen an ostentatious lack of attachment to this concept. Self-interest and individual interests are structurally overriding the collective public interest. There is an excess of administration in pursuit of power, forgetting that power is not the property of an individual; it belongs to a group and remains in existence only as long as the group remains united. Without a people or a group, there is no power. And where power shrinks, violence takes hold. That's why we've seen an escalation of violence in contemporary society. The concept of authority is inherent to public office and is fundamental not only in human relations, but also in institutions. Maintaining authority requires respect for the person or the position. The greatest enemy of authority is contempt. Therefore, the public body must act and not omit itself, because action is the central pillar of public work. 

In sport, the famous phrase, credited to a London bishop and adopted as a motto by Baron de Coubertain, founder of the modern Olympic games, that "the important thing is not to win, but to compete" is used as a mantra to justify mediocrity. Winning athletes are not content with victories. They seek performance and to surpass previous results. Mediocre athletes, on the other hand, want to be recognized as celebrities in the virtual world, so they become "pop stars", with millions of followers on social networks and ostentatious displays of wealth and prestige. In victories, they are idols; in defeats, they are insensitive to their millions of fans and supporters.

Even in the private sector, the epitome of economic dynamism, we are finding this acceptance of mediocrity more and more often. Service providers have come to adopt the basics as sufficient. The customer is no longer the priority. There is a clear lack of resilience to do the right thing, evolve and seek the best for the customer.

Today's entrepreneurs don't think long-term.

We also find this diabolical acceptance of mediocrity in the business world. Little thought is given to the long term. Decisions are focused on the immediate impact, the stock market price or the market share. We no longer take the risk of conquering new markets, undertaking business in different places, adapting to the local culture and developing new regions. The true entrepreneur is essentially a non-conformist by nature. They are not content with achieving goals, but with surpassing them. They are the true dynamo of society. The mediocre ones, on the other hand, are those who cling to the same litanies to justify poor results, but always blaming third parties such as inflation, interest rates, the government and the weather. They are banal and chant anti-business culture.

Thus, the bureaucratization of public life, over-administrative governments, the decline of public services and institutions, the business world and conformism have deconstructed power structures, and human action has become mediocre.

About Author

Maurício Ferro

What do soccer, wine, law, politics, and economics have in common? Much more than you can imagine. And contrary to what the popular saying says, they can and should be debated and analyzed, yes. Welcome to Maurício Ferro's site, a channel to create and exchange thoughts and opinions. Maurício Ferro is a lawyer, graduated from PUC university in Rio de Janeiro, with a Master's degree and specializations from universities such as the London School and the University of London. He studied OPM at Harvard Business School. Author of published works in the commercial and capital markets areas, and acting in the Board of Directors of large companies, he based his legal and executive career with a focus on Business Law. But his passion goes beyond the corporate world. A passionate Flamenguista, Mauricio knows the ins and outs of the professional world of soccer and other sports. He is a partner in innovative companies such as 2Blive, a global startup focused on technological solutions to fill the education gap, especially in areas of great need such as Africa. He also invests in the Flow Kana company, based in California, and focused on the scientific production of cannabis for various purposes, such as medicinal, clothing production, or recreational use. To all these ingredients, add a deep knowledge of wine and the delicious ways of winemaking. That is the recipe for what you will find here.

1 Comment

  • The mediocre are the complacent, those who are content with little, with the banal.
    They are weak beings with a fragile essence.
    Good professionals are those who are obstinate, audacious and ambitious to achieve the best results.

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