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Good Enough Never Is
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I have a problem with a particular adjective (or adverb, depending on how it's used). The word is "enough".
My primary issue with the word "enough" is with its meaning. Who decides what is enough?
When do you have enough money to be financially secure? At Thanksgiving dinner, when have you eaten enough? Have you studied enough for your exam? Spent enough time with your family?
The problem with "enough" is that it's vague. It means different things to different people (as it should). Enough, misinterpreted, can cause some pretty big problems.
I harbor particular angst toward the phrase "good enough." When "good enough" becomes part of the equation, it can wreak havoc. What if everyone began to adopt standards of "good enough"?
What if ...
• Our nation's teachers, seeing only half of their students learning, said, "Oh well. That's good enough, I guess"?
• Prosecutors seeking to put away violent criminals prepared only part of their cases and said, "That oughta be good enough"?
• Firefighters put out a fire ... except for that one little patch ... and said, "Good enough. Let's call it a day"?
I could go on with examples, but I've made my point. So why, if I expect more from others, should I be allowed to do just good enough? Why should you be either?
If we expect others to do their best possible when it's going to affect us (and admit it, we all do), we should be willing to give as much. It's the good old golden rule in action.
I've adopted a motto: "Good enough never is."
Why do something at all if you're only going to do it good enough? Personally, I'd rather you not. We'll find someone else. Thanks for offering, but no thanks. Really.
I'm not advocating expectations of perfection; but we should expect anyone who commits to a task to give it their best. Perfection would be unreasonable: We all have constraints. Time, money, expertise, skill - we're all required to work with the resources we've got.
For example, I'm not much of an artist. If I were to set out to paint a sky scene on my daughter's bedroom walls, it's going to look more like an episode of the Care Bears than the Sistine Chapel. That's my best. And that's O.K.
Growing up, I was taught to value commitment and hard work. My parents always, always expected me to do my best. Sometimes I thought they didn't have realistic expectations of what my best was. But, as every day I come into contact with people who just plain don't care whether they're giving their best, I value the lesson and the example my parents set for me. They didn't always hit the mark, but they never stopped trying.
Don't be fooled into accepting "good enough" from yourself. "Good enough" is code for "not a priority." It really comes down to a level of commitment. When we are content with "good enough," we are saying that we're not really committed to the task.
So are we over-committing ourselves? Are we stretching ourselves too thin? Painting ourselves into corners of "good enough"? Maybe so.
That's a question for another time.
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