Occasionally when reading, I don’t entirely agree with the author. Seth Godin wrote ‘Good enough stopped being good enough a long time ago so why not be great?’: Jim Collins wrote ‘Good is the enemy of great.’
I understand what they mean but I think that sometimes an emphasis on greatness can lead to an unhealthy and counterproductive obsession with comparison – whether we compare ourselves with colleagues or people in the public eye. Expecting perfection in ourselves can seem so daunting that we stall in our attempts to improve: expecting perfection in others is unrealistic and therefore leads to disappointment.
There are some instances in which I think I prefer the Italian proverb ‘better is the enemy of good.’
After my last post, Are you being good or are you getting better?, I had an email from a coaching client –
‘I get that it’s important to focus on that progress rather than stressing about not being perfect yet but how can I tell if I’m good enough?’ I feel stuck and I’m just not making any progress at all.’
We had a session booked for later in the week so I asked Mollie (not her real name) to read another post – Had enough? – prior to our meeting and to think about what it would mean to be good enough. When we met, she had with her a big sheet of paper full of words and colourful images. By its very nature, it’s a particularly personal document so I won’t show you a picture but I have Mollie’s permission to share some of the headlines with you.
Good enough as a manager
Good enough as a colleague
My fellow managers would say I’m good enough when I’m engaged, curious, effective, constructive and innovative.
Good enough at looking after my physical health
I don’t need to be Jess Ennis-Hill. I am good enough when I’m showing up for my personal training sessions, following the nutritional advice and achieving the goals I agreed with my trainer.
Good enough as a friend
Being a good enough friend is not about arranging amazing weekends away or buying extravagant gifts – although those things aren’t wrong. It’s about being present, not being distracted when we’re together, really listening, doing what I said I would do, going beyond the superficial and knowing each other on a deeper level.
Mollie now has an action plan that will help her to notice when she’s good enough and, perhaps ironically, is confident that when she accepts that what she is doing is enough, she is actually able to do more. No longer stuck by the thought of needing to be perfect, she can acknowledge her progress and build on it.
Today’s pebble for your consideration: how do you feel about the concept of being good enough?
Turning over pebbles is the blog of Thinking Space Coaching.
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