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Step Off the Path to Mediocrity

Have you ever had a partner that said, “just make something up” or “we can just guess because nobody looks at those anyway” or “those forms don’t matter so stop filling them out.”

Being complacent or complacency is making the choice to do things part way or not quite good enough. In the end it is the act of settling for something not quite good enough. Seth Godin, an author, speaker, and marketing expert, recently wrote a blog post “On the Road to Mediocrity.” In that post Mr. Godin wrote, “The only way to get to mediocre is one step at a time. You don’t have to settle. It’s a choice you get to make every day.

Do I make a difference?

As a paramedic I occasionally question the importance of the work I do for patients. As you know many patients don’t need emergency medical interventions, they just need a ride to the hospital because they can’t drive, won’t drive, or don’t have someone else to drive. The easiest time to settle or be complacent is when patients don’t really need me. They need a ride. I remind myself that I am making a choice to perform a thorough assessment and provide outstanding care. I don’t just estimate respiratory rate by writing down 20 without actually counting. I also frustrate my partner by asking that we don’t start rolling until I auscultate a blood pressure. Sure I can hear a blood pressure OK when the vehicle is moving, but why should I settle for maybe or sort of hearing the fade of the pulse.

What do I need to know for the test?

As a student have ever asked the question, “What do I need to know for the test?” Or the common companion question, “How many can I get wrong and still pass?” Those two questions are two big steps on the path to mediocrity that imply there are parts of being an EMT or paramedic that are not important. Since life is full of logical consequences the expected outcome of knowing just enough to pass is that you will be mediocre. Although there are always exceptions, opportunities, promotions, and rewards will come to those that choose excellence and bypass those that choose mediocre. Why not make the choice to know everything you need to know for the test. Challenge yourself to get as many as 100% of the test questions correct.

How can I change directions?

Life is wonderful because it is full of choices. Fortunately it is easy to step off the path to mediocrity. Simply make the choice to change directions. Look for opportunities to not settle, to do something extra to improve yourself, and to challenge yourself to improve and grow. Choices are not limited to your school or work. For example, I am working towards a long-term running goal. Daily I find myself making choices about eating, exercise, other activities, and sleep to continue on the path towards reaching my running goal. I am not sure if I will attain the goal, as it is audacious, but I am confident I am on the path towards that goal.

What choices are you going to make today so you are not settling?

This article was written in partnership with Steve Whitehead at the EMT Spot. Steve and I decided to both write on the topic, “You don’t have to settle.” You can find Steve’s contribution here. If you’re a blogger we’d like to invite you to write your own post on this topic. Send me an e-mail or leave a comment and we’ll add your link as well. Thanks, Greg Friese.

By Greg Friese

Greg Friese, Stevens Point, Wisconsin, is an author, educator, paramedic, and marathon runner.

Greg was the co-host of the award winning EMSEduCast podcast, the only podcast by and for EMS educators. Greg has written for,, Wilderness Medical Associates, JEMS Magazine, and EMS World Magazine, and the NAEMSE Educator Newsletter.