Being Good Enough Just Isn’t Good Enough

“Be all that you can be.” For years, that was the recruitment slogan used by the U.S. Army in its advertising. I think most of us would say we want to be all that we can be. We unabashedly claim we want to be the BEST. People don’t claim they want to come in second place or be the runner-up. Nobody wants to settle for anything but being the BEST. We want to be #1.

It doesn’t matter what we’re talking about—we want to be the BEST. Ask a pair of newlyweds, and they’ll tell you they want to be the BEST husband and wife to each other. The BEST! Ask a newly minted father and mother what they hope to be for that child, and they will tell you they want to be the BEST parents a child could hope for. The BEST! Ask interviewees about the job they intend to do if they’re hired, and they will tell you they will be the BEST employee you ever hired. The BEST!

Think for a moment about your own position. You’ve chosen a profession. Wouldn’t you say you want to be the absolute BEST at what you do? Most of us would, I think.

But now let’s consider it some more. Do you really need to be the BEST? Isn’t that really setting your sights a little high? Let’s face it, there are a lot of people who do what you do for a living. Can you really be better than every single one of them? I mean, what does it matter that there is someone who is actually better than you? Being the BEST is a little tough to gauge anyway.

In fact, when it comes right down to it, what we really mean is that we want to be BETTER than every other person in our company who holds the same position. If we’re BETTER than everyone else at our company, that’s pretty darn good. People will look at us and see that we stand out among the crowd. We might not be the BEST ever, but we’re BETTER than everyone around—that counts for something. Sure, being BETTER than our peers makes us special. It’s good being BETTER than our peers.

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But being BETTER at our job than absolutely everyone at the company—is that really necessary? Does it really matter that we are BETTER than every single person in our department? If you think about it, we really just need to be GOOD ENOUGH.

We need to be GOOD ENOUGH to keep our job. We need to be GOOD ENOUGH to get a decent raise. We need to be GOOD ENOUGH so we aren’t bringing up the back of the line. At the end of the day, GOOD ENOUGH gets us what we really want. Being the BEST—that’s great, but what’s really in it for me? Being BETTER than everyone I work with—that’s great, but what does it get me? Yep, GOOD ENOUGH is GOOD ENOUGH.

That, people, is how we settle. Instead of setting our goals at seemingly impossible heights—the dream to be the very BEST at what we do—we convince ourselves that it’s OK to settle for GOOD ENOUGH. It’s OK to accept mediocrity when we’re capable of so much more.

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And this habit of settling doesn’t permeate only our professional life. How many of us really focus on being the BEST parent, spouse, friend, sister, brother, coworker, or whatever you are or want to be? How many of us settle for being GOOD ENOUGH in our personal lives just like we do in our professional lives? Sometimes it’s just easier to be GOOD ENOUGH.

The problem with GOOD ENOUGH is that it means we have accepted less than what we are capable of. It means we are giving others less than what we could be giving. It means we have stopped trying because if we were really trying—giving whatever we set our mind to maximum effort—we’d be the very BEST we can be.

Making the most of the talents you’ve been given is the true measurement of success. Doing the very BEST you can in your job or your relationships takes effort, but it’s also incredibly rewarding. You may not end up being the BEST your profession has ever seen. You may not be the BEST person who ever walked the face of the earth. But in setting out every day to be the very BEST, you will achieve so much more than what you could ever dream of.

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