Mere Mortals


As a general rule, leaders tend to be high achievers. We like to set stretch goals for ourselves and strive for what we, or the all-knowing “experts in the field”, have identified as the ideal target, the emerging trend and/or the path to success in the future. That is not a bad thing per se . . . however in addition to measuring your performance against someone’s version of “the ideal”, it is also important to occasionally compare yourself to mere mortals. What exactly do I mean by that?

  • Have you ever listened to a webinar or gone to a training session that promised to highlight “cutting edge strategies,” only to realize that you have been doing those things for some time?
  • Perhaps you were concerned by the push for performance metrics, anxious that your outcomes would fall short, but discovered that you had more than enough data to meet expectations.
  • Maybe you were a bit intimidated by your perception of what a colleague had achieved and then learned that your accomplishments, while different, were certainly comparable.

You likely have your own examples. The point here is not that you should set your sights on a less lofty goal. Keep striving for the ideal, just don’t assume that everyone else is all that far in front of you. It is easy for some expert in a cozy office somewhere to tell you what you should be doing . . . sharing the advice with such confidence that it seems like everyone else must have it figured out. They don’t. So give yourself permission to quit measuring your performance against some imaginary perfect leader or organization. Of course, you shouldn’t overstate your place in the world either. That is why an occasional assessment of the progress of mere mortals is helpful.

A “mere mortal review” might light a fire under you if you are lagging behind. It might result in cutting yourself some slack if you are ahead of the game. At the very least, it will provide you with a more concrete and comparable sense of your performance in the real world. Once you have completed this check-up, please feel free to go back to striving for the ideal, setting the bar high and pushing to achieve more . . . because when you achieve more, you pave the way for all of us mere mortals to do the same.

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