Is “Good Enough” Really Good Enough?

How often have you said, “I’ve done a good enough job,” and moved on?

If you’re like me, that’s the story of your life. It started when I was in school. I didn’t care about my grades. I just wanted to finish something and move on.

I always said, “no one cares about your grades.” And I believed that in “real life” no looks at your report cards from ages ago. And in fact, it’s true. Other than my parents, no one has ever looked at my grades — not from high school, and not from college.

That doesn’t mean no one looks at grades; some employers take grades very seriously. But there are not that many professions that require high grades.

If you want to get into certain law firms, sure, you need high grades, even to be considered. But I didn’t want to become a lawyer, accountant, or any other profession that requires high grades.

While I had nothing to prove to others, I forgot one person who I actually did everything for: Me.

“Nothing can bring you peace but yourself. Nothing can bring you peace but the triumph of principles.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson

You don’t go to school for other people. You don’t work for other people. But all we think about is external factors. We think about the schools we want to get into and the companies we want to work for.

We think about what we have to say to other people when they ask, “what do you do?”

All of that is great, but it doesn’t matter. You don’t live for other people. You live for you. So why not do your best — for no other reason than yourself?

I didn’t get that concept for years. I don’t regret much in life, but here’s one thing I do regret: That I screwed around for many years.

In school, I just wanted to pass my classes — I just wanted to play basketball and chase girls. “Good enough,” was really good enough for me.

I was like, “what’s the point?” Well, you idiot; the point is YOU. But unfortunately, I don’t have a Delorean that takes me back to the past so I could tell myself that.

What kind of things do you do that are just “good enough?”

  • Your job?
  • Your relationship?
  • Your education?
  • Your health?
  • Your life?

Look, in modern civilization, we live together with other people. And often, people tell you what to do. Your school teacher, boss, mother, father, spouse, all probably have something to say to you. And sometimes, you don’t like that.

But here’s the thing: You’re not doing it for them. You do things for yourself. For your personal development, and for the quality of your life.

But when you’re in the middle of it, you can’t see the point.

We’ve all been there; you have a shitty job and you don’t do your best. Believe me, I’ve been there. But I was wrong.

What’s the point? You’re not helping anyone by putting in the minimum amount of effort — just to get a paycheck.

“I hate my boss and company. I’m just going to check-in and out. Fuck them.” I often hear that statement with people who don’t like their job.

I also see a lot of jobless people who don’t want to work for free. If you’re jobless for a long time, you’re not helping anybody. So you might as well get up and work for free. It’s a win-win situation. Do whatever it takes.

How about a “good enough” relationship? Look, I’m not 16; life is not a romantic movie. You and your partner are not going to be in love forever with the same intensity and die at the same moment when you’re old, while you’re grabbing each other’s hand like in The Notebook.

But come on, how often do relationships die a quiet death? Sure, there are many reasons such a thing can happen. But one of the biggest reasons is a disease called “good enough.”

Giving your woman flowers without any special occasion? “Hmm, everything is good, I’d rather go home and watch an episode of Game of Thrones.” Lazy mofo.

No more “good enough.”

  • The report you have to write.
  • The people that you’re leading.
  • The product that you’re building.
  • The book that you’re writing.
  • The kids that you’re raising.
  • The strategy that you’re creating.
  • The test that you’re taking.
  • The app that you’re building.
  • The uncomfortable conversation that you’re having.

I think that Jony Ive, designer of many of Apple’s products, including the MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch, put it well:

“If something is not good enough, stop doing it.”

That’s a simple rule to live by. If it’s not good enough, stop. Think about how you can do a good job. And then: Don’t stop again until you’ve done a great job.

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