A LOT OF PEOPLE ballyhoo the need for excellence in all they do. Some maintain life principles like “anything worth doing is worth doing right” or "good is the enemy of best."
Such outwardly admirable notions about excellence too often mask the compulsions of perfectionism. Besides making it difficult to relax and enjoy life, perfectionism manifests two vastly different but equally destructive extremes. And both can keep you from doing what matters most.
Early in my career, I worked for one sort of perfectionist. He knew exactly what type of equipment would be needed to do the best possible work in our field—video production—but the problem was, we didn’t have it.
What we had instead was really good gear which could have been used far more than we used it but which often lay idle because “we couldn’t do it right” with what we had. So, we often produced far less than we could have otherwise.
Later, I took a job with perfectionists of another sort. There was no such thing as good enough to these people. That meant every job we produced took too much time, went over budget, and got done when it needed to only because people gave up every other meaningful thing in life to stay at the office long enough to meet deadlines.
Countless evenings, weekends, and holidays with family were lost attempting to make perfect happen—despite the reality that attaining perfection is a fantasy. No matter how much you’ve put into something, there’s always a way to make it even better if you have a bit more time and money to do it.
Kudos for “Good Enough”!
The words good enough have gotten a bad rap.
But if you take them literally, “good enough” is always the right goal for whatever you do. There’s no good reason to strive for anything else. (There may be bad reasons—like pride, ego satisfaction, and mean-spirited competition—but no good reason.)
Negative connotations have been heaped upon “good enough,” but consider the actual implications of the phrase. What, really, does good enough mean?
It means the thing accomplishes the intended goal. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be good enough.
It means the resources required to do the job have been optimized. We met the budget. We did it with the people and materials available, or it wouldn’t have happened at all. We delivered what was needed, when it was needed. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be good, and it wouldn’t be enough.
It still allows you to “under-promise and over-deliver.” Sometimes during a project, good enough grows legitimately. You discover in the process that what you thought at the beginning would suffice to accomplish the necessary end actually isn’t sufficient. So, you modify along the way (while letting everyone know the implications for budget and timing) and set the bar for a new good enough.
If you think my promoting good enough means I don’t believe in hard work, that's not the case. I actually believe working hard is necessary to enjoy life to the fullest (see my posts “Letting Go of Easy” and "You Can 'Take It Easy' or Get What You Want (but not both)" for more about this).
The problem with the pursuit of excellence is that it can torpedo your ability to do life the way you really want. It can keep you from doing Different.
By striving for some ambiguous standard of excellence, you’ll never be able to objectively sort out details that will get you where you want to go. Good enough is a realistic guide to taking action and covering all the truly necessary bases for launching out in a productive, life-enriching direction.
So: let go of perfectionism (you’ll have to convince your compulsions to let go of you in order to do this),
and make friends with good enough.
If you do, the life you enjoy may be your own.
*Photo credit: Pete Linforth from Pixabay.
To help determine what’s good enough to get you started toward Different, grab a copy of my new
e-book 8 Steps to the Life You Want.
I'll walk you through exactly what to do to get un-rutted and onto the path to something imperfect but just right for you. Including tips on how to:
> Brainstorm the best approach for you,
> Overcome financial obstacles,
> Balance "real life" with your dreams, and more.
Go to the DoP Store and grab a copy.
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Use coupon code 8STEPSINTRO at check-out to get 50% OFF the regular price.
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©2021 Greg Webster. All rights reserved.