Mediocrity - Todd Henry - Die Empty - Sketchnote by Doug Neill, Verbal To Visual

Feeling Mediocre? You’re Halfway There.

I’ve been feeling pretty mediocre lately, about a lot of things.

It feels like Sketchnoting In The Classroom is in a mediocre place right now. I’m nowhere near as far along with it as I was hoping to be by now. I feel that I’m letting teachers down by not delivering on what I promised.

It feels like Verbal To Visual as a whole is in a mediocre place right now. I see so much room for improvement – more consistency in the sharing of new resources, deeper dives into topics where I’ve only grazed the surface, deeper engagement with the community that has gathered around the work of sketching out ideas.

It feels like my life is in a mediocre place right now. I spend too much of it working alone in a windowless room, and too much of it on meaningless distractions (often alone in that same windowless room).

I’ve had that general feeling of mediocrity off and on for a few weeks now, but it wasn’t until reviewing Todd Henry’s book Die Empty that I was able to put that name – mediocrity – to my current situation, which is extremely helpful because of the context it provides.

Mediocrity - Todd Henry - Die Empty - Sketchnote by Doug Neill, Verbal To Visual

Todd Henry on the root of the word “mediocrity” in his book Die Empty.

Here’s what Todd has to say about that word:

“Mediocrity comes from the Latin words medius, meaning middle, and ocris, meaning rugged mountain. Literally translated, it means to settle halfway to the summit of a difficult mountain. It’s a compromise of abilities and potential; a negotiation between the drive to excel and the biological urge to settle for the most comfortable option.”

What that definition provides me with is hope.

It allows me to see myself not at the bottom of a ditch that I need to scramble out of, but halfway up a mountain that I’ve willingly chosen to climb, and whose peak I plan to reach.

I’m not giving up on Sketchnoting In The Classroom.

It’s just that I’m about halfway up that mountain. From this vantage point I have a pretty clear picture of what it will take to make it to the top, and I know that daily steps will get me there.

I’m not giving up on Verbal To Visual.

It’s just that I’m who-knows-how-far up that mountain, and in many ways I don’t want there to be a top, I just want to keep climbing. That’s what I plan to do.

I’m not giving up on my life.

It’s just that I’m part way up a mountain that I first have to build and then have to climb. That’s what following a non-traditional life path feels like.

What do you feel mediocre about right now?

Let’s keep climbing.



Want To Dig Deeper?

If you’re new to the idea of sketchnoting and excited to develop more visual thinking tools, I think you’d enjoy our foundational course An Introduction To Visual Note-Taking.

If you’d like to make sketchnoted videos like the one you saw here, we’ve got a course for that too! Check out How To Make Sketchnote Videos.

If you’re an educator interested in bringing visual note-taking into your classroom, check out Sketchnoting In The Classroom.

And if you want to create new personal and professional opportunities by sharing the authentic journey of your skill development online, check out Learn In Public.