Battling “good” on the road to “great”

There’s a place I know called “Caveat Hill.” It’s where one of my former managers went to edit all the documents I sent him.

It didn’t matter if I sent him a 300-word letter to the editor for The Wall Street Journal or summary of call notes as an FYI. Each item would be returned to me marked up with every question or concern the reader could ever have (but probably never would).

“How do you get to Caveat Hill?” one of my co-workers once asked after a particularly brutal round of edits kept us in the office until nearly midnight. “You take the path with the most resistance,” she answered.


Sometimes, I agreed with my manager’s rigor. New business proposals, communications plans, news releases – those documents should always be expertly written, thoughtfully revised and meticulously edited. They should be perfect every time.

But then there were the less critical materials, like  internal tracking documents and an agenda for a staff meeting. Those documents don’t need the same level of attention. Those shouldn’t be keeping anyone in the office until midnight. Those have no business loitering on Caveat Hill.

While working at that agency, I adopted a personal motto: “Sometimes ‘good’ is good enough.” Not everything will be perfect; not everything should be.

Voltaire has a more elegant way of saying it:

“The best is the enemy of the good.”

But while I might have been able to apply that logic in my professional life, I haven’t always been as successful on the personal front.

You might remember that one of my goals for 2016 was to do an aerial performance. I’m sorry to report that I won’t be checking that box this year.

progress3Why? Because somewhere along the way I forgot all about being good and instead got hung up on being great.

Part of my problem was that my progress last year was really remarkable – as is usually the case whenever one starts something brand new. In fact, I advanced so much during my first twelve months that I thought it perfectly reasonable to shine up the things I was working on, put together three minutes and call it a show. Goal, set.

But then, as you may have guessed, once I mastered those beginner skills, there was a whole new set waiting for me. And then another. I presume there is another after that and one after that, but I wouldn’t know. I haven’t gotten there yet.

I put off the performance throughout the year thinking that I wanted to perfect just one more trick before creating a routine. I told myself that I could enter a student showcase later. But one move turned into two and now it’s the end of December. There is no more later.

progress2My performance goal will go unachieved.

And that’s a real shame – not just because I don’t plan to be in New York next year and likely won’t have a chance to train again until 2017, but because I now realize that I could have put together a passing routine months ago. One that might not have been as perfect or as pretty or as difficult as I would have liked, but one that would have been good enough.

I didn’t quite realize how close I was until last week when I had a friend tape a few sequences during an open workout. There were parts of the video that I didn’t like – split seconds when my feet weren’t pointed and my legs weren’t straight, or when I slipped or struggled. But overall, the clips weren’t bad. Had I set the moves to music and wore something fancier, maybe I could have even passed for good.

As luck would have it, Vine let me test my theory. The clip isn’t synced perfectly and it’s only a few seconds, but I think it proves my point. Good enough.

Advice I needed two months ago: Do the performance. Even if it’s not perfect. Especially if it’s not perfect.

Because if it’s not challenging, that’s the only time it’s not good enough.


Bonus Vine: In which I desecrate a J. Cole song… Because it’s my make-believe performance, that’s why.

(Email subscribers click here for video.)




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