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Don’t settle for good enough

Improving Systems and Habits

Scott Miker is the author of several books that describe how to use systems and habits to improve.  This free blog provides articles that to help understand the principles related to building systems.  

Don’t settle for good enough

Scott Miker

When I look back over my life, I see two distinct approaches that I have taken to life.  Up until around high school and then again after about age 24, I had the approach that I wanted to improve. 

This time is marked by constantly trying to get better.  I remember when I was in middle school I worked out harder than most of the high school football players knowing that I wanted to improve and be able to play football when I got to high school.

But then in high school my attitude started to shift.  I started to enter a different realm of thought.  This was the other distinct approach to life and one that I relied on through high school, college and even a few years after college. 

The mindset was to always do everything good enough.  I did every task at school to get a “B” in the class.  An “A” was great, but I was never willing to work harder for it.  I really just wanted a “B” most of the time.  I only wanted an “A” if it was about as easy to obtain as the “B” was. 

When I worked I did the minimum to keep my job.  Yes I did it good enough but not enough to really grow from the experience. 

Luckily I started to shift back to a mindset of doing things right, not good enough.  When I worked at a retail store, I recall spending hours during slow times improving displays or deep cleaning the store.  The other employees would use this time to talk on the phone or sit around but I became bored so I found work to keep me busy. 

I started to realize the great advantages of going above good enough.  I felt better about the job I was doing.  I received higher grades, better performance evaluations and better opportunities at work. 

But most people never even see the improvement mindset and never get to realize its true value.  They spend their whole life doing everything good enough

Now I draw a very clear line between the two.  I am very sensitive to my attitude to see if I am doing it good enough or doing it right.  Doing it right means that I make it the best that I can, not that I simply cross something off my to-do list.  Doing it right is how I focus on constantly improving and getting better. 

Doing it right had tremendous advantage in life.  It keeps us focused on something positive.  It allows us to feel confident in our skills and abilities.  It allows us to provide more value than others.  It gives us benefits in life and if we can utilize that mindset in many areas, we can start to grow and improve.

But most people never get there.  They simply do enough.  This leads to a plateau where they don’t really improve.  They get older but don’t get better over time.

I think the advantages of working with people who focus on doing it right instead of making sure it is good enough are clear.  But what isn’t always clear is the advantage to the person doing the task.

There is tremendous benefit for the person who strives for improvement and doing things right.  They can start to grow and get better over time rather than just going through the motions.

So determine what you want in life.  If you want to just get through the things you have to do in life to enjoy the free moments it might seem like the good enough approach is fine.  But that will likely leave you stuck, without a clear path towards a better you.  But if you want to grow, improve and reach new heights, then shift towards doing things right, not just good enough.