Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Mediocrity

"It is a wretched taste to be gratified with mediocrity when the excellent lies before us." -

"Mediocrity requires aloofness to preserve its dignity." - George Dawson

"No wonder we are all more or less pleased with mediocrity, since it leaves us at rest, and gives the same comfortable feeling as when one associates with his equals." - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

"Men in general are too material and do not make enough human contacts. If we search for the fundamentals which actually motivate us, we will find that they come under four headings: love, money, adventure and religion. It is to some of them that we always owe that big urge which pushes us onward. Men who crush these impulses and settle down to everyday routine are bound to sink into mediocrity. No man is a complete unity of himself; he needs the contact, the stimulus and the driving power which is generated by his contact with other men, their ideas and constantly changing scenes." - Edward S. "Ned" Jordan

"We encourage one another in mediocrity." - Charles Lamb

"We gain nothing by being with such as ourselves: we encourage each other in mediocrity. I am always longing to be with men more excellent than myself." - Charles Lamb

"The virtue of the soul does not consist in flying high, but walking orderly; its grandeur does not exercise itself in grandeur, but in mediocrity." - Michel de Montaigne, fully Lord Michel Eyquem de Montaigne

"Men in excess of happiness or misery are equally inclined to severity. Witness conquerors and monks! It is mediocrity alone, and a mixture of prosperous and adverse fortune that inspire us with lenity and pity." - Baron de Montesquieu, fully Charles-Louis de Secondat, Baron de La Brède et de Montesquieu

"True education makes for inequality; the inequality of individuality the inequality of success; the glorious inequality of talent, of genius, for inequality, not mediocrity, individual superiority, not standardization, is the measure of the progress of the world." - Felix Schelling, fully Felix Emmanuel Schelling

"It is a great sign of mediocrity to praise always moderately." -

"Mediocrity is now, as formerly, dangerous, commonly fatal, to the poet; but among even the successful writers of prose, those who rise sensibly above it are the very rarest exceptions." - William Ewart Gladstone

"The essential element of successful strategy is that it derives its success from the differences between competitors with a consequent difference in their behavior. Ordinarily, this means that any corporate policy and plan which is typical of the industry is doomed to mediocrity. Where this is not so, it should be possible to demonstrate that all other competitors are at a distinct disadvantage." - Bruce Doolin Henderson

"Among many parallels which men of imagination have drawn between the natural and moral state of the world, it has been observed that happiness as well as virtue consists in mediocrity." -

"The paradox is the source of the thinker's passion, and the thinker without a paradox is like a love without feeling; a paltry mediocrity." - Søren Kierkegaard, fully Søren Aabye Kierkegaard

"All greatness of character is dependent on individuality. The man who has no other existence than that which he partakes in common with all around him will never have any other than an existence of mediocrity." - James Fenimore Cooper

"The tendency of democracies is, in all things, to mediocrity." - James Fenimore Cooper

"Talent is a very common family trait; genius belongs rather to the individuals – just as you find one giant or one dwarf in a family, but rarely a whole brood of either. Talent is often to be envied, and genius very commonly to be pitied. It stands twice the chance of the other of dying in a hospital, in jail, in debt, in bad repute. It is a perpetual insult to mediocrity; its every word is a trespass against somebody’s vested ideas." - Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

"One should not think slightly of the paradoxical; for the paradox is the source of the thinker's passion, and the thinker without paradox is like a lover without feeling: a paltry mediocrity." -

"The only difference between men of great achievement and those who remain in mediocrity is that the great pay little attention to what has been done and what obstacles or apparent reasons may stand in the way of achievement but devote themselves to contemplating what can or ought to be done. Those who allow their mental and emotional natures to recoil, refusing to let this sense reach out into the undiscovered, destroy their own capabilities and this keeps them always in the prison house of limitation. But it should be noted that prison is only the recoil or reflex of their own nature. Genius is that which goes on through conditions and circumstances and keeps eternally in the process of expansion and extension of achieving power." - Baird T. Spalding

"Good behavior is the last refuge of mediocrity." - Author Unknown NULL

"A brand new mediocrity is thought more of than accustomed excellence." - Baltasar Gracián

"Mediocrity obtains more with application than superiority without it." - Baltasar Gracián

"Mediocrity can talk; but it is for genius to observe." - Benjamin Disraeli, 1st Earl of Beaconsfield

"Nothing is thoroughly approved but mediocrity. The majority have established this." - Blaise Pascal

"The highest order of mind is accused of folly, as well as the lowest. Nothing is thoroughly approved but mediocrity. The majority has established this, and it fixes its fangs on whatever gets beyond it either way." - Blaise Pascal

"There are circumstances of peculiar difficulty and danger, where a mediocrity of talent is the most fatal quality that a man can possibly possess. Had Charles the first, and Louis the Sixteenth, been more wise or more weak, more firm or more yielding, in either case they had both of them saved their heads." - Charles Caleb Colton

"The spirit of policy and that of bureaucracy are diametrically opposed… The essence of bureaucracy is its quest for safety; its success is calculability. Profound policy thrives on perpetual creation, on a constant redefinition of goals. Good administration thrives on routine, the definition of relationships which can survive mediocrity. Policy involves an adjustment of risks; administration, an avoidance of deviation." - Henry Kissinger, fully Henry Alfred Kissinger

"Persevering mediocrity is much more respectable, and unspeakably more useful, than talented inconstancy." - James Hamilton

"Some men are born mediocre, some men achieve mediocrity, and some men have mediocrity thrust upon them." - Joseph Heller

"Forms are for mediocrity, and it is fortunate that mediocrity can act only according to routine." - Napoleon Bonaparte, Napoleon I

"Solitude, the safeguard of mediocrity, is to genius the stern friend, the cold, obscure shelter where moult the wings which will bear it farther than suns and stars. He who would inspire and lead his race must be defended from traveling with the souls of other men, from living, breathing, reading, and writing in the daily time-worn yoke of their opinions." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Solitude, the safeguard of mediocrity." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Solitude, the safeguard of mediocrity, is to genius the stern friend, the cold, obscure shelter where molt the wings which bear it farther than suns and stars. He who would inspire and lead his race must be defended from traveling with the souls of their men, from living, breathing, reading, and writing in the daily, time worn yoke of their opinions." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

"In the republic of mediocrity genius is dangerous." - Robert Ingersoll, fully Robert Green "Bob" Ingersoll

"Mediocrity knows nothing higher than itself, but talent instantly recognizes genius." - Arthur Conan Doyle, fully Sir Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle

"Jealousy is the tribute mediocrity pays to genius. " - Fulton Sheen, fully Archbishop Fulton John Sheen

"Politicians fascinate because they constitute such a paradox; they are an elite that accomplishes mediocrity for the public good. " - George Frederick Will

"Only with absolute fearlessness can we slay the dragons of mediocrity that invade our gardens." - George Lois

"The function of a genius is not to give new answers, but to pose new questions which time and mediocrity can resolve." - Hugh Redwald Trevor-Roper, Baron Dacre of Glanton

"It is a wretched taste to be gratified with mediocrity when the excellent lies before us." - Isaac D'Israeli

"Imposing an alleged uniform general method upon everybody breeds mediocrity in all but the very exceptional. And measuring originality by deviation from the mass breeds eccentricity in them." - John Dewey

"The general tendency of things throughout the world is to render mediocrity the ascendant power among mankind. " - John Stuart Mill

"The difference between greatness and mediocrity is often how an individual views a mistake." - Nelson Boswell

"A good number of works owe their success to the mediocrity of their authors' ideas, which match the mediocrity of those of the general public." - Nicolas Chamfort,fully Sébastien-Roch Nicolas De Chamfort, also spelled Nicholas

"Most social institutions seem to be designed to keep man in a state of intellectual and emotional mediocrity that makes him more fit to govern or be governed." - Nicolas Chamfort,fully Sébastien-Roch Nicolas De Chamfort, also spelled Nicholas

"Do not leave yourself to despair; it stands between you and the dialogue with your heart. Do not try to explain feelings. Live everything intensely and treasure what you feel as a gift from God… Do not try to walk in all the roads at the same time! Don’t allow your wounds to transform you into someone you are not. Don’t be afraid. The only way to avoid that suffering is to refuse love. Don’t be intimidated by other people’s opinions. Only mediocrity is sure of itself, so take risks and do what you really want to do… Don’t bother trying to explain your emotions. Live everything as intensely as you can and keep whatever you felt as a gift from God. The best way to destroy the bridge between the visible and invisible is by trying to explain your emotions. " -

"If I had to give you one piece of advice it would be this: Don’t be intimidated by other people’s opinions. Only mediocrity is sure of itself, so take risks and do what you really want to do. Seek out people who aren’t afraid of making mistakes and who, therefore, do make mistakes. Because of that, their work often isn’t recognized, but they are precisely the kind of people who change the world and, after many mistakes, do something that will transform their own community completely… If I must be faithful to someone or something, I have, first of all, have to be faithful to myself… If I must fall, may it be from a high place… If it's still in your mind, it is still in your heart. " -

"We all have a vast number of areas in which we have no talent or skill and little chance of becoming even mediocre. In those areas a knowledge workers should not take on work, jobs and assignments. It takes far more energy to improve from incompetence to mediocrity than it takes to improve from first-rate performance to excellence. " - Peter F. Drucker, fully Peter Ferdinand Drucker

"A common danger tends to concord. Communism is the exploitation of the strong by the weak. In Communism, inequality comes from placing mediocrity on a level with excellence." - Pierre-Joseph Proudhon