Mediocrity is a Virus. Here’s How to Banish it from Your Life.

Benjamin Hardy, PhD
Published in
7 min readAug 24, 2017

Little things become big things.

When you justify and allow even little things into your life which your intuition warns you against, you permit a virus to enter your life. It spreads to other areas.

When you introduce a change to any system, you simultaneously change the whole system. The other areas of the system will begin arranging themselves to better fit with the new.

Going against your higher intuitive voice is a slippery-slope. You don’t realize day to day how out of whack things are really getting.

Any small problem or indulgence cannot be viewed in isolation. It reflects something much bigger and much deeper. Sometimes it takes an intense wake-up call to become aware of the signals.

But once your eyes are open, and you’re in a place to hear your inner voice, it all becomes painfully obvious. You’ve known all along you were living against yourself, but you continued to justify.

The sickening reality is that you actually began to settle into the mediocrity, and convince yourself that you’re okay with it. Even when it shows itself throughout your entire life.

Your relationships are worse than they used to be. But you justify and adapt.

Your health is worse than it used to be. But you justify and adapt.

You’re more distracted than ever. Oh well.

Your thinking has become dull and polluted with the trivial and negative.

Your life is a garden. You can’t just cosmetically hide your problems. You must take them by the root and completely rip them out.

It’s the only way.

The virus must be removed.

If it is not removed, it will continue to infect your whole life and the core of who you are as a person will slowly and painfully die.

This article is an excerpt from my forthcoming book, THE PROXIMITY EFFECT.

What is Private Always Shows Itself Publicly

“A private victory always precedes a public victory.” — Stephen R. Covey

Nothing in your life is hidden. You may think it is, but it’s not.

I have a friend who is constantly dieting. Whenever he’s around me, he always eats healthy. Yet, he always seems to be struggling with his weight.

Although this friend will not show his demons in public, it’s obvious by his weight that in his private prison, he numbs himself in the comfort of food.

The same is true of all people. Every area of your life is on display. You’re not fooling anyone.

Words are weak.

Your life speaks for itself.

Changing Your Desires to Reflect Your Values

“When a man makes his thoughts pure, he no longer desires impure food.” — James Allen

The first step of evolution is to stop desiring the things that are stopping you from evolving.

Ascending to greater heights at anything involves making permanent, not temporary, improvements.

If you want to improve your finances, you have to change your desires about money. You can’t continue to enjoy spending money on the crap you spend it on. You can’t continue to be content always being stressed about money.

Your life and your environment are a reflection of your desires. When your desires truly change, you will adapt your environment to match your new desires. You will no longer justify what you once were okay with.

Until you really want to change, you won’t, even if deep down you believe you should.

Yet, once your desire shifts, changing your behavior is instant and effortless. If you no longer desire bad food, it’s not hard to “resist” it. Willpower is for people who haven’t made up their minds. Willpower doesn’t work.

If you no longer desire mediocrity, you won’t be mediocre. Herein lies a subtle and disarming truth — everything you have in your life is what you want. If you wanted something different, you’d have something different. As James Allen wrote, your circumstances reveal you.

Even your current set of beliefs that make up your worldview: you are actively choosing those beliefs. You use those beliefs to justify your behavior.

Rather than believing what is “real,” you believe what you want to believe.

If you really wanted to believe something different, you’d be actively seeking to learn, to alter, and to replace your current set of beliefs.

You’d no longer justify your behavior. You’d be more open, honest, and authentic about where you’re at. Ironically, you’d also be more accepting of where you’re at. Acceptance is the first step to commitment.

Commitment is a prerequisite to making proactive and purposeful change. If you’re truly committed to something, you will make whatever changes to yourself, your circumstances, and your life to uphold or achieve that commitment.

No excuses.

If you need to learn something new, you’ll learn it.

If you need to behave differently, you will.

If you need a new environment, your reshape your circumstances.

Those are the true signals of a changed person. Until these outward manifestations occur, the internal shift has not occurred. Because your outer realm is a reflection of your inner. And if you truly want an inner shift, you’ll reshape your outer to solidify the desires, values, and goals you desire.

You May Need to Get Away

“A good shock often helps the brain that has been atrophied by habit.” — Napoleon Hill

In the course of daily life, it can be hard to actually see yourself from the outside. It can be difficult to view your circumstances, environments, influences, habits, and behaviors for what they are.

Sometimes, you need to literally remove yourself from your environment and routine to reset yourself.

This doesn’t need to be a long thing. It could be a weekend trip, or a “mini-retirement.” The longer you can get out of your routine, the better. If you can squeeze a week, do it.

Don’t use your cellphone much. Focus on being present, on learning, on connecting — both with others and yourself.

Bring your journal and spend a lot of time visualizing and contemplating your future. If you need to, write down everything you’d like to remove from your life on a piece of paper and burn it. Psychological research has found that this practice can reduce anxiety. I’ve done it, it’s a great practice.

True learning always occurs in an experiential way. It’s never purely theoretical. And generally, it can only occur in specific types of contexts. Just like creativity rarely happens while sitting at your desk, deep and transformational learning will rarely happen within the confines of your cushy and comfortable routine.

You must get out. It is only by getting out that you can have a more objective look at what’s going on in your world. By getting out, resetting yourself, and refreshing — you’ll clear the cobwebs that have shielded your conscious mind.

When you step back into your environment and life, you’ll be stunned at what you see. You’ll notice little things that were completely outside your frame of consciousness, like how dirty the microwave is, or how disorganized your desktop has become.

You’ll be stunned by how low your personal standards have been. You’ll be shocked what you’ve been willing to tolerate.

And because you’ve have evolutionary personal experiences, you’ll immediately get to work altering your external world to match your new and improved inner reality.

A Return to Consciousness

Authenticity and integrity are rare traits these days.

Most people conform to whatever environment they are in, even if that environment directly contradicts their value-system. Few people have the guts to speak-up or to simply leave. For instance, when people start gossiping, do you join in?

Few people have the courage to own their value-system these days.

Most people are too concerned about what other people think to be their true selves.

When was the last time you had completely uninhibited self-expression?

In his book, Spartan Up!, Joe De Sena talks about how he often does burpees during down-time, even in public places. His wife and kids are sometimes embarrassed by the strange looks Joe gets while doing burpees at airports.

But Joe doesn’t care what these people think. Firstly, he doesn’t even know these people. Secondly and more importantly, he wants to do burpees. What’s wrong with doing burpees? Just because it breaks a social norm?

If it’s normal, it’s average. If it’s average, it’s probably closer to mediocre than you really want to be.

Average is getting a C in class.

Average is being overweight.

Average is being negative often and positive rarely.

Average is living far beneath your value-system and your dreams.


Here’s my challenge to you. If this post struck a nerve, make today the day you start living congruently. Point your life more directly toward your TRUE NORTH.

Remove anything and everything from your life that contradicts your highest values.

Make a private decision followed by a public commitment of what you intend to do. Surround yourself with the right people who will keep you accountable.

Organize your life.

Organize your relationships.

Take one step in the right direction. Then do it again. Productivity and success are not complicated. Success is taking 20 steps in one direction rather than one step in 20 directions.

One step.


Miracles and enormous results overtime. The compound effect.

You can do this.



Benjamin Hardy, PhD