During a basketball practice my junior year one of my teammates spilled his water bottle on the court during a break. Coaches and players grabbed towels and practice jerseys to wipe it up as quickly as possible. As one of the players was finishing up, he made his last swipe and frustratedly exclaimed “Good enough” as he got up off his knees and prepared to begin practice again.
At that same time, Coach Z was standing along the side holding a towel waiting for this player to finish. As the player passed him, Z, in a voice loud enough for everyone to hear replied frankly, “Good enough never is.” He dropped to his knee and finished wiping up a few remaining wet spots and we began practice again.
No lecture or explanation, he just let it hang there.
I had always remembered Z’s comment, but it had not registered completely with me until years later when I began intentionally working to grow as a leader.
Why Should We Care?
There is one thing all people that people willing to settle for ‘good enough’ have in common: they’re willing to compromise their standards.
See, the problem isn’t that job, activity, or duty. The problem is what ‘good enough’ leads to, which is more compromises.
There are undoubtedly things you do daily that just need to be completed at an adequate level. They don’t need to be perfect or require your best effort. However, we should be striving to limit these items if for no other reason than it violates our standards.
We’re all familiar with the phrase gateway drugs, but we often fail to acknowledge the actual issue with any damaging behavior. It’s not gateway drugs that are the problem, it’s the gateway habits that precede the drugs.
The same can be said for ‘good enough’. It’s a gateway habit leading to a gradual decline in our personal standards. Eventually we become master negotiators with ourselves on what is, and isn’t acceptable.
REAL TALK - Action Steps
So, how do we fight the societal tendency to accept ‘good enough’ from ourselves and those we lead? It’s a challenge, no doubt. The initial focus must be on ourselves. Afterall, no one is going to truly listen to a ‘good enough’ leader.
Even the phrase ‘good enough’ sounds like you’re settling - like yea I’ll do it, but it’s really not that important so I’ll just do the minimum so I can say it’s done. Who wants that to be their standard for anything? Simplify to allow yourself to consistently maintain your personal standards, then commit to living up to that standard moment by moment.
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I'm a teacher, coach, and parent seeking excellence while defining success on my own terms.