Thinking Small

I love the folks at Despair, Inc. — I enjoy the cynical way they make hand-over-fist profit by mocking the motivation industry, and I giggle with delight at the parody aphorisms in the company’s “Demotivator” series of posters.

Part of the fun of Despair’s product line is that it is much closer to reality than the usual touchy-feely stock art on corporate conference-room walls.  A few years ago, for example, I purchased for the Herald’s conference room a large poster titled Meeings with the tag line: “None of us is as dumb as all of us.”  Hooray for truth in advertising! 

Yet as I survey the people I encounter at work and in my personal life, I can’t help but be struck by the “small thinking” that predominates.  It’s one thing to think big but — for whatever reason — never achieve, or try to achieve, one’s dreams.  It’s another thing altogether to have dreams and goals that are so depressingly mundane.

Case in point:  As I continue my futile search for Miss Right, I’ve made a point of assessing two characteristics — health and adventure — during the “get to know you” phase.  And apart from the wide latitude women seem to interpret in the concept of physical health, up to and including morbid obesity (I kid you not), I remain mildly astonished at how low most set the bar on what constitutes “adventure.”  I even had one person assure me that she had a strong spirit of adventure and as proof told me about the time she spontaneously drove from Grand Rapids to Detroit to buy … get ready … Krispy Kreme donuts.


I don’t advocate for wild-eyed dreams that have no hope of realization.  I don’t expect people to be thrill-junkies intent on pushing their physical and mental limits.  But, my goodness.  It seems so many people are quite content not just to settle for mediocrity, but to aim for it as a goal.

Depressing.  Good thing I had an extra shot of expresso put into my white-chocolate mocha today.

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  1. I just found this website after googling “Grand Rapids” and “mediocrity.”
    I must argue with your criticism of the young woman’s adventurous quest to Detroit for Krispy Kreme donuts. I would hold that such a voyage is as adrenaline raising as anything on a Mountain Dew commercial. Personally, if I’m going to drive to Detroit, there better be a damn god reason, such as I am being chased by barbarian hordes, or that Jesus himself is hovering over Cobo Hall doing a duet with Bob Seeger. Yet, this young woman’s reason to go to Detroit is DONUTS. That’s crazy, man. Maybe she does such things to unwind after her day job of wrestling bears. To willingly go to Detroit (without being paid) is more crazy than I think I can comprehend.
    So, give the girl a chance. If you dare.


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