We are launching our new website right now, and as you can imagine, the transition from old to new is long, complicated, and filled with “what ifs.” It would be easy to delay the launch until the site was perfect. You and I both know that it will never be “perfect.”
What if I told my designer Genevieve that “good enough” is okay with me?
Does good enough mean mediocrity to you? Would it mean to you the site has broken links, outdated information, and missing information? Is good enough the bare minimum that is required?
Or, is good enough a perfectly reasonable standard to set, as it isn’t likely to achieve perfection?
The notion of good enough is often seen as reflecting mediocrity and lazy complacency. Many assume that success requires us to set the highest possible standards and strive for perfection. Good enough isn’t good enough for me; perfection is unreasonable, so I choose to pursue excellence instead.
Excellence is its own reward. The pursuit of excellence is a journey that is never complete, but the rewards are infinite.
When we strive for excellence, we push ourselves to be better than we were yesterday. We set our sights higher and reach for goals that we once thought were out of our grasp. We challenge ourselves to grow and learn, and we become better people in the process.
Personally and professionally, don’t settle for good enough. It limits our potential, damages our attitude, and reflects in our reputation. Don’t even say, “That’s good enough for today.”
Be willing to take risks and push boundaries. You deserve to show the world your best and be rewarded for your best.
First, identify (for you) the difference between excellence and perfection. Excellent is better than average, better than most, or exceptionally good, and that’s not the same as perfection.
Recognize when you’ve slipped past excellence and are striving for perfection. Obviously, there are times when perfection is the goal (heart surgery comes to mind), and there are times when excellence is the goal. The difference between the two is the time invested. And, from my perspective, good enough is never the goal.
My niece was married last fall. My sister-in-law, Rachel, is very crafty and excited that her only child was getting married. She invested so much time, energy, and money into the tiniest of details. I know she wanted her daughter’s wedding today to be perfect.
One of the tiniest details that Rachel created was the personalized seating cards at the dinner table. Each was unique, personalized, and created with dried flowers, calligraphy, scents, and other beautiful touches. They were stunning and perfect.
I know that Rachel spent an insane amount of time creating each seating card. They were likely expensive to make as she used high-end products. And I’m willing to bet, sadly, that most people had no idea how much time and energy were used to create a simple name tent as they didn’t value that attention to detail on a seating card.
In project management, we call that Gold Plating. Perfect wasn’t needed in this situation. An excellent seating card would have worked. They still would have been beautiful, unique, and created with love. It might have saved Rachel dozens of hours.
You must look at the difference in the time, effort, and money required from excellent to perfect.
Did the guests appreciate the difference in time, money, and effort? Probably not. Did anyone think any better of Rachel because she did that? No, they didn’t.
When you spend hours ensuring that something will be perfect, are you gold plating? I remember typing file folder labels, color-coded, specific fonts, etc. Is that perfection needed for file folder labels? Do you create a new agenda each week that is visually perfect with all the right colors and in the exact time slots? How much time is spent on your documents, spreadsheets, and reports?
Is that perfection worth the time you spend, the money it costs the company, and the effort you put into it?
Could you be working with excellence and save time to spend on other tasks that need more time, or have a day where you can leave on time?
Excellence does require us to step out of our comfort zone, tackle challenges, and take risks. Sometimes you realize you are investing too much time and effort, but awareness is the key.
Pay attention to your goal. Is your goal to be good enough (average), perfect (unreasonable in most situations), or perform your job with excellence (better than most)?
If you want to achieve greatness, good enough should not be in your vocabulary.