Why “Good Enough” is Never Enough. Or Is It?

Posted February 19, 2013 by Marcy Twete in On the Ladder

There is a movement happening in American businesses today. It’s called “good enough.” Over the last few years we’ve seen books like Good Enough Mother, Good Enough is the New Perfect, The Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough, and many more. Have we lost the drive for perfect and settled for “good enough”? And the bigger question at hand: should we?

There seems to be an enormous chasm between perfectionism and laziness, but it’s easy to start to mistake that chasm for a fine line. Somewhere on that line or in that chasm is the term “good enough.” So how do you find the right happy medium for you? Let’s start by looking at the differences between perfectionist and laziness and good enough.

Completing a Big Project at Work:

  • Perfectionist. Spending 100 hours at work the week before preparing, and updating the PowerPoint presentation thousands of times because the logo placement isn’t quite right.
  • Laziness. Saying something like “it’s probably never going to be right anyway, so let’s just get it done.” Leaving people out of the process just because you don’t want the feedback.
  • Good enough. Doing the best work you can, but realizing there is a a time when the project is done and doesn’t necessarily need more tweaking.

Finding a Partner to Love:

  • Perfectionist: Finding a person you absolutely love, but breaking up with them because you always saw yourself marrying a blonde, not a brunette.
  • Laziness: Shacking up with the first guy who asks you out on Match.com because dating around is just “too much work.”
  • Good enough. Accepting someone who has flaws, but makes you happy.

In the world of perfectionism vs. laziness vs. good enough, especially in business, the key is to pick your battles. If you’re working on that big project, but you know that a week later, there will be another big project, and that first big project will be long forgotten, good enough is probably good enough. At the same time, if you’re working on a project that will inevitably shape your business’ legacy or image, good enough is probably never enough and it’s more than OK to be the perfectionist you need to at that time.

Recently, I went through my own personal crisis with “good enough” when choosing a book cover for my upcoming You Know Everybody! A Career Girl’s Guide to Building a Network That Works. After being unhappy with submissions from multiple designers, I started to feel like I was being difficult, too perfectionist, and annoying everyone on my book team. But I knew that this cover wasn’t something I was willing to settle for good enough on. I had to be the perfectionist and I wasn’t going to back down. So I called the best graphic designer I knew and begged her to take on the project even though she was stacked with work. She agreed, and while it cost me more money, more time, and more stress, it was worth every moment and penny.

You have to know when to back down and when to ramp up. Good enough might be enough. But it might not be. Stand your ground and know when you have to stand in the chasm, and when you have to walk that fine line.

About the Author

Marcy Twete

Marcy Twete is a career fundraiser turned corporate responsibility executive, a career and networking expert and the author of the book "You Know Everybody! A Career Girl’s Guide to Building a Network That Works."