The Mediocrity Drill

If you’re tired of reading about me talking about the whole concept of Mediocrity and my rumination and thoughts about the topic, then I suggest you don’t read this short post.

This “Mediocrity Drill” has been persistently on my mind for a while now, particularly because it’s a drill that has reached the bedrock of my existence. At the very core of my planet. My experiences the past few weeks have caused a shock to my fundamental understanding of individual progress and advancement.

Perhaps I live my life in Quotes.

“I often think in music. I live my daydreams in music. I see my life in terms of music” — Albert Einstein

The most memorable moments to me, from young, have always been underpinned by quotes. The 3 lines my teacher said to me that expressed utter disappointment. The lines of affirmation I receive from family and friends, even sometimes teachers. The short lines that I derive after a bout of philosophical rumination. The beautiful lyrics in songs, in the context of the music. The list goes on.

The best quotes, to me, are lines of pure emotion, spoken with beautiful eloquence and dazzling charisma in their own right. The language of the heart, translated with absolute precision. The abstractions of the mind reified with conciseness in its original glory.

And yet, the beauty is that Beauty is truly in the eyes of the beholder when it comes to quotes. The most groundshaking, life-changing quotes to one person may mean as much as dust to another. It affects us because of our current frame of mind.

But enough of ruminations.

My first encounter with the concept of mediocrity drove home the fact: “Never settle for Mediocrity”.

Then, “Never lose sight of the Greatness you’ve set your sights on”. Never lose Focus of the nearby Archipelago, as well as the Horizons.

The critical unanswered question:


I got my answer on a bus ride.

7th October, 2016. A Fateful Friday perhaps?

A casual bus ride with someone in this photo.

I still remember the intersection the bus stopped at when the conversation happened — Upper Changi Road E and Xilin Ave. Right after ITE bus stop.

Me: “I love being bored and just doing what I love to do.”
That Someone: “Really? I will find work to do. … Hard work got me somewhere.”

And it hit me.

“Hard work got me somewhere.”

Straight out of someone who thinks he/she isn’t “smart enough”. Someone who fought against the tide, amidst insecurity.

And someone who made me see how naive I was.

Passion is what keeps us going, what gets us up every morning. I used to believe that following your passion whilst balancing your current imperatives without ever losing sight of your goal would perhaps, perhaps, be some semblance of a way towards success on your own terms. But there was no credit for hard work. There was no credit for struggle.

It finally drove home the point that perhaps I’ve been avoiding for too long, perhaps because I simply didn’t like it. But those 5 words drilled another variable into the formula.

What’s passion if there’s no hard work? You may catch the tailwinds to your goal, but if you don’t man the sails properly, then you lose control. Passion is but an abstraction, without hard work. That teacher had to work, and work really really hard, to prove to the people around him that he refused to settle for mediocrity. That someone on the bus, if my judgement does not fail me, wouldn’t want anything near mediocrity too. And that’s why he/she fought.

The struggle of Hard work sucks.

It’s tiring physically, mentally, emotionally. It doesn’t make sense sometimes, when we lose Focus. It may even make you feel lethargic. But now I observe, perhaps a little too late, that it’s the hard work that develops the character, the passion. It’s the hard work that helps you accomplish the short term goals, which builds up to the long term ones. It’s the hard work that teaches the initially fragile mind and heart how to take a hit; how to take a beating.

It’s the struggle that gives you the experience to navigate your ship through the inevitable maelstroms, not blind belief that the tailwinds will guide you through.

And essentially, passionate or not, Focused or not, Hard work gets you somewhere on your terms, and not where the tailwinds of passion blow you towards. Not on the whims of circumstance and envrionment, but on your orchestrated terms. It directs the wild, strong winds of passion in the right direction, such that you get closer to the greatness you want.

And further away from the whirlpool of Mediocrity.

There’s beyond 46 days from now.


A-levels start in 25 days. I have 25 days to try and manage as much tailwind as I can, 25 days to work hard and get Somewhere. I’ll see where that gets me.

But beyond the end of A-levels 46 days from now, I sincerely hope this lesson will stick. That perhaps the greatest lesson I’ll learn from the A-levels directly is the fact that hard work is the tool to realise your passions.

That quote will definitely be applicable to me for the rest of my life.

Because much akin to how eloquent language can concretise abstractions of the mind and heart in near-perfect precision into quotes;

Concerted, Determined, Deliberate hard work is what reifies one’s abstractions of greatness in near-perfect precision into success.

Of course, that’s assuming you are willing to pull yourself out of the whirlpool of mediocrity, willing to catch the tailwinds of passion and willing to cast unwavering sights on the Horizon.

((ha ha see how the italics line is a quote i derived after writing a post at 0145 at ohman this quote habit is kinda running deeper than I thought it would))

And to that Someone with me on the bus.

How “smart” you are is determined by a mere number — your IQ. That is but a number. People don’t admire you by that number.

In all honesty, I truly admire your “outwardness”. “Friendly” would be a mediocre adjective for you. The frankness in opinion, the willingness to make decisions. It’s a rare confidence.

I truly admire your zest for life. “Don’t worry, get technical, I’m OK with it” while I was nerding out about Apple Watch Ads on the bus — That thirst to know more. “Why am I so salty about it.” when we were walking back, when I pointed you to look towards the river — The willingness to face problems head on. The passion when discussing something that you take a genuine interest and passion in. It’s a rare intensity.

“Hard work got me somewhere.” It’s a rare strength of character.

I could be wrong about all these — these are personal opinion. Perhaps they would change. You could point out all the flaws in my perhaps unwarranted analysis which I tend to do instinctively. But I do hope the message isn’t lost on you — whatever it is, you definitely possess some truly special thing(s) that make you stand out of the crowd. And it is those things that people remember you for, know you for, and look forward to.

And I sincerely look forward to that Intensity and Confidence, on top of everything else. Because your Brand and Blend of Intensity and Confidence is truly, in my perspective, one of the rarest, sui generis bottles of Whiskey to indulge in.

((and while this may sound romantic, No, it is not. In your words, “#brocode”))

And thanks telling me, “Wake up, you’re naive and idealistic”, complete with a metaphorical slap. You can add in the flowery language yourself — can’t imagine you saying that line ((if you even would)) without any. : —)

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