Lucas Avelleda

Athlete, International Shotokan Karate Federation


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How to overcome mediocrity?

"Do you know what lies at the bottom of the mainstream? Mediocrity."
Death in Venice, Thomas Mann

Mediocre: Ordinary; not extraordinary; not special, exceptional, or great; of medium quality;

How to bring people out of mediocrity?
Why do people feel attracted to mediocrity?
Where does extraordinary ideas come from?
How does mediocrity affect our lives?
What are the things that can help us find those areas of interest and what can help us explore and go from ordinary to extraordinary?
How is mediocrity related to happiness?

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      Apr 12 2011: Mark, thank you posting the links to Asimov, I think I must have been living in a cave for the last 55 years. He is amazing! Who in the hell rites 400 books? What a huge inspiration to no be mediocre!
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      Apr 12 2011: Now that's an extraordinary answer, Mark, thank you very much for sharing your ideas, blog and the interview!
      Starting with your first paragraph, I think we face a paradox when we want everybody to become extraordinary, don't we?
      About your first answer, I wonder why society stigmatizes differences in people and how to make it stop doing so. I don't know if you're familiarized with Democratic Education ( This system basically allows students to choose what they want to learn. In my opinion, it's a good way to be who you are and be happy on what you're doing. It's also an excellent way to become extraordinary, I think.
      I woud like you to explain why do you think that extraordinary ideas comes from ordinary people. That sounds like a very interesting point to me.
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  • Apr 12 2011: well i recently read a book called the fear of freadom by erich fromm in wich the basic idea is how whe cannot free ourselves because by doing so we retreat from society we become us, but this makes us sad because it makes us feel alone so we have the need of belonging to society and the only way to do this is by sacrificing a part of us if not all in order to be what you call mediocre
    i think this may answer your second question...
    and i think the only way of stop being mediocre is for people to do what they are happy doing with people who are also happy doing that and doing it because they want to i guess like a university for kids in witch they would explore what they like since the beginning and devote their lives to their passion and have a job as soon as they leave ...
    its really a complicated matter you know how to know what can a person be extraordinary at its the key if this comes in the genes maybe that way ... i think for starters we should divide schools in art phisical education and ciences and let people combine stuff into what they want maybe like that and not sufocating the kids with grades just like learn what you want ... just thoughts saludos
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      Apr 12 2011: Hi Fernando, thanks for sharing your ideas with us!
      By reading what you wrote, I think we can conclude that we're happier when we're not ordinary, even though we have to stop belonging to a "group" or society. Here's why:
      - Are you happy belonging to a group where you're you're not happy on the things you are doing? Don't you prefer to do things that you like and that you're passionate about? Is it worthy to stay in this group or change to another one, where you can do the things that you really want? Is the "sacrifice" that you mentioned really worthy? (take a look on Mark's first topic). I think that when you can't express yourself the way you want you're not going to be happy. The thing is to look for people and groups that have the same "nature" as you.
      - I agree with you that one of the best ways to move from mediocrity to extraordinary is by doing what you like with the people you're happy with. That's an excellent point, Fernando! I think that sharing ideas is one of the best ways to discover things you're very interested and also to find people who have ideas related to yours.
      About this "university for kids" that you mentioned, did you know that there's a school in Portugal where students are given the right and responsibility to choose what to do with their time and attention? It's called "Escola da Ponte" I suggest you to take a look at this link to understand it better:
      Tell me what you think about it after reading!
  • Apr 11 2011: This question really fascinated me. However, if everyone is extraordinary, then how the world will be? Someone has to be mediocre so that some can be extraordinary. What is opposite of extraordinary? not mediocre. It may be non extraordinary. Any thoughts?
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      Apr 11 2011: That's a good point, Prabhakar, thank you for posting!
      I think that society needs to reach a point where most people have the ability to analyze events and ideas from different perspectives. This way, we'll have more creative people, with many different ideas and preferences. If by being creative and different we're being extraordinary, I don't think extraordinary will become mediocre, but now that you mentioned I'm not so sure about it. What do you think?
  • Jul 7 2011: Become a perpetual student. Do not fear getting your hands dirty. Keep a daily log for future review.
    Best ofluck. Sorry that I do not seak portugese.
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    Apr 11 2011: Hi Lucas:

    Nice topic, I think mediocrity is part of the life for most of us (if not all of us).
    It’s hard for me to imagine someone that is extraordinary in all aspects of life, mediocrity is a large part of our life (you buy clothes at the same store, brush your teeth, take showers, have a car, use a cell phone, sleep at night, etc) what I mean is that most of our life’s are mediocre (or normal or standard) but people (not all) have the ability to focus on something they are interested and do something different / extraordinary (while being mediocre in the rest of the areas).
    So the question should be what are the things that can help us find those areas of interest and what can help us explore and go from ordinary to extraordinary.


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      Apr 11 2011: Hi Julian, thank you very much for posting, I've just added your last question to the topic's description.
      I agree with you (and Thomas Mann), mediocrity is part of the life of most of us, however, if we can't stop being mediocre in all aspects of life, what are the aspects on which we should not be mediocre?
      Do you think that mediocrity is somehow related to happiness? Because I agree that when we find areas of our interests we are more likely to go from ordinary to extraordinary. Extraordinary people do things that they like, so they should be happier, don't they?
      A good way to find areas of interest would be sharing ideas and being open minded, to learn and try new things. I discovered my passion, Karate, by accident when I was 6 years old, but I think this is not the best way to find our areas of interest.
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        Apr 15 2011: Hi Lucas!

        I believe it can be any aspect that the person finds relevant, from politics, to tasting all different types of coffee to homeschooling their kids, etc. having a rule on what should be is bad for the process.
        Happiness is a whole different discussion, I don’t know if there is a link and it depends on what you consider happiness to be. From my perspective, if you spend more time doing something you enjoy, then you should be happier, but again you could easily argue against that.
        I don’t have a cool example like Karate, but I can say I’m good at board games if that counts…


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    Apr 13 2011: Check out this TEDex talk it speaks right to the heart of part of the problem I believe.
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    Apr 12 2011: (Great Question!)
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    Apr 11 2011: I would say that courage is involved in autonomy read (extra-ordinary. You have to shed some notions that just don't resonate with you and do some original thinking and find your own truth.