Don’t let Good be the enemy of Better

21 Jul

This article is part of the series “31 blogs in 31 days” during July 2017 on

Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good” is a sentence we have all heard before. Better to do something, even if it’s not perfect, than not doing it at all. “Good Enough” is often all that’s needed, also as it can leave room for flexibility and improvement in a way that “Perfect” might not. And often our own standards for perfection are bordering the impossible, setting expectations that simply can not be reached. So far so obvious.

What about the opposite though? When is the attitude “That’ll do” actually keeping us from getting better results? I can give myself many names, but Perfectionist is not one of them. Already at a young age I was good at many different things, hobbies or at school, (I was also dreadfully bad at some), but I was never excellent at anything. I can think of a few people who are the exact opposite of that, whose range is more limited, but whose talent and expertise goes really deep. I used to be jealous of them and thought that Expert is better than Generalist, then the general narrative and my opinion changed and I considered both qualities as equally valid. And I still stand by the opinion that neither is fundamentally better or worse than the other – different situations and contexts require different skill sets. But I sometimes catch myself in situations where my thinking “This is good enough – I don’t expect this to be perfect” is actually keeping me from raising the quality of my work to a higher level. Not that I am shooting for perfection (which is a pretty vague or extremely subjective parameter anyway) but sometimes I am lazy, I take the foot off the gas pedal too soon and I know I could do better. If I just persisted a bit longer, If I paid more attention, if I ran the extra lap or if I asked for more critical feedback. In many cases I know how I could make something better, or at least I know what I can do to see if it can be improved. It’s not the lack of support channels, it’s my own feeling of “good enough” that keeps me from tapping into them. Sometimes that’s perfectly fine – good enough is still good, after all. But sometimes there are things in life that matter more than others, where investing more really pays off. And it’s in those moments where I need to create an inner perfectionist who kicks my butt and who helps me go the extra mile.

At the age of 36, it is really quite comforting to see that my skill set and my experiences are pretty broad and in some areas also quite deep. I would still not consider myself an expert in one thing, it’s the combination of skills, interests, experiences, expertise (and yes, I use the word despite what I just said) that I find appealing. But I don’t want to settle. I want to develop, grow, refine, expand and go deeper. I want to raise my own bar, I want to create better results – because I know I can. Exploring my own areas for improvement is something I find super exciting. Breaking through barriers can be tough, for sure, but the kind of satisfaction you feel when walking that extra mile has paid off, and you are yielding the results, is of a very unique and special taste. One that I intend to enjoy more often.

Picture: Pexels via Pixabay / CC0



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