The Difference Between Success and Mediocrity

One of my Facebook friends had an interesting post this past week. He used the famous quote from Thoreau that “[Most] men lead lives of quiet desperation.” And then he simply asked, “Why do you think this is?” I have thought much about that over the past 48 hours. Though I cannot speak for Mr. Walden Pond himself, I have a few ideas.

I am firmly convinced that most people despise what they do each day. They get up, put the coffee on, commute to their cubicle—all the while hating what they do for a living. I am also convinced that all men and women have what I refer to as a “Mortal Mission” in life. There is something of significant meaning that they should be doing…but are not. Why? They either do not take the time to find out what their Mortal Mission is, or they do not do what it takes to fulfill it. It is likely that the later is more applicable than the former. In other words, most people probably know what they love deep inside, but feel trapped in their current situation.

I believe that even among my appraiser peers, most are living lives of desperation—though some of them are not so ‘quiet.’ Many are frustrated with low fees, UAD, AMC’s, other appraisers, etc. etc. etc. Though we may not commute to a typical cubical, most are settling for mediocrity in life. Many among us, for whatever reason, do not love what we do.

Over the past several years, I have studied the ancient Principles of Prosperity and successful people in general. I have become absolutely convinced that the difference between the ‘masses in desperation’ and those relative few who are living the ‘good life’ is not in their ideas. No, the main distinguishing feature is APPLICATION—or the doing. Thomas Edison once said, “The value of an idea lies in the using of it.” Oh Mr. Edison, how true you are. Good ideas are nothing but ‘ether’ until they are put into motion.

See, all of us have good ideas. Few—very few—ever act upon them. Some even go so far as to share their ideas—frequently—with those they come in contact with but still never seem to ever get to the implementation part. I have a few friends in this category.

Don’t misunderstand; I am not saying that the doing is easy. It is not, and that is why the majority do not take this crucial step. Ease is status-quo…no matter how often we may complain about it. Action takes motivation, risk, capital, and a variety of other factors that most are just not willing to do.

Today, I thank those who are willing to take a stand; those relative few individuals who are willing to fail, willing to act, and willing to succeed. Our lives—and theirs—are better for it. What are your ideas? Are you happy being an appraiser? I know I am, but that is not my Mortal Mission. My purpose in life is to teach and I have found a way to do that. What is yours? Will you do what it takes this coming year to seize those great ideas, thoughts, and dreams and begin to DO THEM? Now is the time to commit—no—now is the time to act!

Now, go create some value!


Dustin Harris is a multi-business owner, but he has found most of his success as a self-employed, residential real estate appraiser. He has been appraising for nearly two decades. He is the owner and President of Appraisal Precision and Consulting Group, Inc., and is a popular author, speaker and consultant. He owns and operates The Appraiser Coach ( where he personally advises and mentors other appraisers helping them to also run successful appraisal companies and increase their net worth.  He is also the Founder and President of Your Appraisal Office ( which implements some of the systems he has developed to help lower costs and free up time for real estate business owners.   He and his wife reside in Idaho with their four children.

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