Finding balance in a chaotic world

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December 2017
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Is Good Enough Good Enough?

Paint RollerAt one of the company’s I worked at we had a Quality Assurance engineer. I had helped him get on-line (this was back when everything was dial-up) and on the personal information screen for AOL, he had written the quote “Good enough never is.” I chuckled about it and told him I thought it was funny. The look he returned told me instantly that it wasn’t a joke. He really felt that way. I figured that if you were in QA then you probably did need to think that way.


For the longest time I was the king of “good enough.” I would reach a point in a project where I just wanted it to be over so I’d start to cut corners. A perfect example of this was when my wife and I decide to repaint most of the downstairs. We were taping off all of the baseboards and trim all around the house. I was getting so fed up with it; I just wanted to start painting. We finally finished the taping and we started painting. I rolled the paint all over the walls and when we were done, I sat down and rested. And there I noticed for the first time that the texture on the wall meant we would have to paint at least one more coat. Our marriage was sorely tested during that project, let me tell you.


Even now looking at the walls, I can see where I just said it was “good enough” and left it at that. And that there is the problem with “good enough.” Years later, I still see problems where I painted and had I taken a more balanced and relaxed approach, those problem areas would be gone. My haste and impatience lowered the overall quality of the job I was doing.


Truly the time it takes to go from good enough to done right is often very little so why do I have such a problem of making the little extra effort? Presumably it is because I see the end of the project and I just want to get it over with. In essence I let my selfishness override my desire for a good job. Truly if I thought about how getting angry and impatient with painting the house would lead to me wishing that I had taken more time on it six years later, I would have made the extra effort.


I’ve now adopted a new mindset to “good enough.” If I find myself thinking that what I’ve done is good enough, I actually walk away from it for about ten minutes. I just rest and try to clear my head. I then go back and try and look at it objectively and see if it truly is good enough or if I need to put a little more work into it.


This all came to a head a few years back when I decided to replace the siding on my chimney. It was originally made of pressed wood and time and animals had chipped much of it away. I bought a bunch of new siding and trim and painted it all. I then recruited a friend of mine to help and began tearing off the old siding. Most of the problems were in the lower half of the chimney, so my plan was to not replace the top sides and back of the chimney. Well just replacing the front was a ton of work. The biggest issue was placing the large hardiboard siding eight foot up on the front of the chimney. It took multiple tries before we finally got it in place and truthfully I thought we never would. Well my friend has to leave but the heavy work is done. I put the smaller pieces of siding up and begin to nail the siding up on the chimney.


I had pretty much finished when I noticed that the new trim on one side did not meet flush with the existing trim on the side of the chimney. I looked at it for a moment and then decided I’d just put a bunch of caulk in there and paint it. That would be good enough. I climbed down on the ladder, got the caulk and climbed back up to the roof. I looked at it again and realized it would be better, and in fact easier, if I just cut a new piece of trim and put it up there. About fifteen minutes later it was done and looked far better than what I initially planned. All it took was for me to step back and truly analyze what I was doing. I was proud of myself for that.


So my challenge to you is to pause whenever you feel something is good enough. Is it really or should you take just a few more minutes to truly make it good enough? Believe me, take the few minutes and bring yourself back into balance.