Ground Floor: Let’s stop the dance with mediocrity

I love to dance and I love good music as well. I unfortunately, do not go out to dance, except when I go to parties or other social gatherings.

But the subject on the Ground Floor this time is not about the physical art of dancing as an art or source of entertainment. It is rather a look at the charismatic fervour with which, we as a people in this wonderful country called Ghana in general, indulge in and appreciate mediocrity.

But Napoleon Bonaparte thinks otherwise and he said: “When small men attempt great enterprises, they always end by reducing them to the level of their mediocrity.”

We are not small, but our output indicates otherwise. It is no wonder cheap products are flooding our country and destroying our industrial base. To the extent that questionable characters enter this country with funny business ideas and we end up groveling at their feet. Some of these characters even have the ears of the powers that be. They are given juicy contracts and opportunities, and this is not because they have brilliant ideas, but simply because for us “any thing goes”, we allow cheap investors with very cheap ideas that we could see through if we adhered to standards of excellence to take us for a ride.

The recent collapse of Global Broadcasting Systems (GBS) is a typical example. The guy came into Ghana, flashed some product before our eyes and we grabbed it with both hands. And just when we all thought that was it, he did us in!  There are many such examples in the country, but because their impacts are not as big as that of GBS, we have not heard of them nor felt them.

People who aim high are critical, meticulous and consistent, but these are the ones we hate. We are always in a hurry to do things without comparing them to the best standards, even if we know what the standards are. We are prone to look for short cuts, cut corners and get things done without any clear measurements of good quality.

For instance, this country is currently involved in an avoidable debate, and precious national and individual time, energy and resources are being spent to debate it. The ex-gratia awards saga. In some of the arguments that have been made, the Chinery-Hesse Committee was said to have looked at ‘best practices’ elsewhere. Please, don’t make me laugh!  If they did and achieved an excellent outcome, we wouldn’t be where we are right now.

I have heard some companies appeal to the cliché “best practices” often when they are projecting their images. As if by merely professing the phrase they are automatically practicing it. These companies, however, in reality, practice some of the most obtuse and crude management practices one could imagine under the sun. Poor working conditions, poor reward systems and sometimes near slavery systems in this day and age.

And at the end of the day, they sell cheap goods and services to us, and yet we pay more for what they actually give us. It is like paying the price of two for one!

We appear to accept just anything in so far as it could make us get by. To the extent that people who pursue excellence and greatness among us are loathed. It is common to find very excellent employees detested and maltreated by their superiors in some institutions in corporate Ghana. Indeed, those who are rewarded even in some instances by the state have achieved nothing close to good, their achievements won’t even stand the average mark and yet these have been rewarded. Do you remember the national awards list of former President Kufuor?

As a matter of fact, all the nations and societies of the world that have been known in most cases to have attained heights of great nationhood at the time they did – did so by encouraging excellence. And in these societies excellence is openly acknowledged and rewarded to encourage others to do so.

But not so with us; we often shout out proclaiming lofty ideas and goals. We love to point to documents that postulate high standards of practice and yet when it comes to implementation we fail to go the last mile to get the best.

Indeed, achieving excellence does not come easy. To attain high levels of quality in whatever we do, we ought to be prepared to learn the ropes of the particular enterprise and be prepared in all cases to apply the details as required to produce the desired effects. Excellence comes at a price and we must be prepared to pay it.

As Scott Alexander said, “All good is hard. All evil is easy. Dying, losing, cheating, and mediocrity is easy. Stay away from easy.”

I have met so many people who claim they want to write, but are never prepared to do what is required to get a good piece of writing done. My writing teachers, like Commonwealth award winning  writer and novelist, Lawrence Darmani, Richard Crabbe, now with the World Bank publications unit in the US and award winning novelist, and science fiction writer, Stephen Lawhead, all have told me that the best way to get a good piece of writing done, is to research the topic, think through it and plan what you want to write, and then do not stop after your first draft! Rewrite! Yes, good writing is achieved after reading through and rewriting your manuscript. But most of the people I have met who want to write hate to rewrite.

Indeed, while you won’t achieve a perfect work you are more likely to achieve excellent work if you put in the extra work – but not just extra work, but conscientious effort that is informed by purposefulness.

It is the same rule with every endeavour in life. Put in effort, commitment, dedication and add a sense of value to the final outcome of what you are producing.

Ghana deserves better and we can’t continue to dance with mediocrity, or else we would continue in this vicious cycle that leaves us worse off than from where we were coming from.

By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi

Email: [email protected]

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.