My mother was an amazing cook. At church potlucks people would search for the dishes she brought to be sure they got some. As I was growing up, meal-time did not reveal that we were poor. I cannot remember even one thing that she served us that I thought was yukky.
She could take the left-overs and invent new gourmet-quality dishes. It was from these early food experiences that I developed a discriminating palate. Yes, I’m picky about food. Bland just doesn’t satisfy me. Food doesn’t have to be spicy, but it should burst flavor all inside my mouth when I eat it.
Recently I asked a friend about the quality of food at a restaurant I was considering. “It’s good enough.” she responded. For her it was an acceptable place to eat. I chose to go elsewhere.
Good enough was never good enough for my mother. She had the habit of working for excellence.
Habits exert a strong influence on our attitudes and efforts. Every choice we make is either the first step in establishing a habit, or an additional step in reinforcing an existing habit.
Doing less than what I’m capable of falls into the category of a Bad Habit. I believe I should demand excellence from myself. While I may not achieve mastery in everything I do, I will achieve at a higher level than I would if I settle for good enough.
First, the good-enough habit strangles the effort to excel. Even the idea of putting in extra time and effort to get a better result, will probably not be acted on when a person has a habit of good enough.
Second, you will never achieve what lies beyond good enough. You will never know what genius you are capable of until you do more than you think you can.
Your Best lies beyond Good Enough. It will take extra effort, harder work, more time, but excellence emerges from that. The achievement of excellence, even the effort to achieve excellence, enables you to do even greater things the next time.
And, in this process, Excellence becomes a habit. It becomes more than a habit. It weaves into the very fabric of who you are.
It may often seem that you are the only one giving this extra effort. But, when you entertain the thought that good enough really is good enough, accept the fact that doing more, working for excellence, is for two valuable reasons:
1) to shape yourself into what’s possible;
2) to be a model for your children, your students, your colleagues.
As you model going beyond, you will enjoy a deep satisfaction with your work. You will avoid the doubts and worries that you could have done more and achieved different results. You will measure yourself and know that you have grown into a better you, more than what you were. It is also likely that you will begin to realize that you are capable of much more than you previously thought.
You will also enhance other lives in ways that you never dreamed possible. Your efforts will serve as a challenge to those around you. They will begin to push themselves to go beyond the minimum, to seek to enhance their lives.
There probably are times when it is OK to short-cut the work and stop at Good Enough. I would be glad to hear from you about when good enough really is good enough.
I would also like to hear from you about going beyond, working for excellence. Share an experience with me.
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Thank you for reading.