The Fine Line Between Good Enough And Perfection

I've been hearing a lot of people talk lately about how perfection is the enemy of good enough. This statement baffles, I mean in certain contexts I can understand it but sometimes I think we may be reading this all wrong to the possible detriment of society. I'm afraid that some people who attempt to apply this like a blanket to their lives may be missing part of the point. 

Dig if you will a picture... (RIP Prince)

You're out to dinner, let's say on a date even. You're at a nice steak restaurant, I mean who doesn't like a nice well marbled ribeye, seared on the outside but pink (or red) and juicy on the inside. Spinach, sweet potato or a nice rice side, and of course what meal is complete with out Brussels sprouts (I know, that looks weird but I looked it up) with bacon. You've got a nice conversation going and a couple of tasty beverages. Maybe even some candles and not the oil burning kind either! 

Cut to the kitchen...

In the back, just beyond earshot of the diners, the chef and his sous are discussing last night's Golden State Warriors game and decide to recreate the no look pass to Seth Curry and last second game winning shot with your prized piece of perfectly marbled meat. And while Seth may shoot and score, let's just say the sous to chef is more like "shoots and floors". In other words, he came up a bit short. So they improvise of course and add a put back to the play, grab the rebound off the floor and pick it up and throw it down on the grill like nothing ever happened.

What's that? Eww, you say?

Oh the stories I could tell...

Fast forward 15 minutes (perfect steak recipe: 5 mins/side, rotating 45 degrees once/side, rest 5 mins) to the unknowing waiter delivering what looks to be a sizzling piece of perfection on a plate drizzled with just enough butter and wine based demi-glace. The aroma precedes it's arrival and causes your mouth to water from a few feet away. He presents it proudly and politely waits as you to cut into it to check that it's cooked to the perfect temperature as they are known to do in a restaurant of this quality. As you make the first incision juices flow from the meat ever so gently, but you notice something moving along the pellicle of the meat in sync with your blade.

It seems as though there is a hair on your steak...

What do you do? If you're like me and the rest of the 99%, you politely advise the waiter that you wanted your steak without hair and would he replace it. Problem solved, but perfect meal ruined by good enough.

Of course "good enough" does have it's place. 

Early the next morning you're scrambling some eggs for your family and you crack one just a little too hard while thinking about the hair on your steak the night before. Oops, small shards of shell are now in the pan mixed with the rest of your scramble. Of course you're not cracking them in a bowl the way they do on TV! That would create an extra dish to wash and who has that much time in their day?

So let the digging begin!

Are you skilled enough to get them out with the remaining egg shell in your hand, performing delicate surgery? Are you going to put your clean-ish finger in and touch the pieces hoping the albumen causes it to stick and extract them gently?? Or maybe you get the ones you can and hope that no one notices the extra crunch in a few bites? I mean it's not like they can "send them back".  Or would you really dump them out and start over from scratch? Of course not. 

Here, in the sanctity of your own home, you're going to feed the people you love most tainted eggs, and probably not lose a wink of sleep over it.


Will it kill them? No, of course not.

Will you get chided for your deception if you are discovered? Possibly (ok, probably).

Will they ask for bacon and waffles next weekend? Likely!


Some may say the difference in my examples is the eggs cost a few dollars and some embarrassment while the steak dinner costs a week's check. That may be so, but the point of all of this is why would we expect perfection from others when we don't expect it of ourselves? Where do you draw the line between the two? Is there an area of your life that you are non-compromising? Is that a bad thing?

Let's use Steve Jobs as an example. I didn't know the man, but from the books I've read about him he seemed to have an unstoppable drive for perfection. I think is is safe to say that Apple would not have become the juggernaut that it is if he didn't have a perfectionist mindset. The drive and vision that he had to have to create the products was second to none.

Why do you think that with each release of the iPhone countless blogs are devoted to telling you what it doesn't do, doesn't have, and are a wishlist for the next version essentially tearing it apart, 5 years after the man has died? Was he a success in his chosen endeavor? Absolutely! What about the other areas of his life that weren't related to Apple? Those same books would probably lead you, as they did me, to believe the answer to that question is no.

When I was competing in bodybuilding it was the same thing. I wasn't doing it to stand on stage for my friends and family to have something to do for a day or two on a random weekend. I wasn't doing it to make friends or for the ladies (I actually ended relationships for this). I wasn't even doing it for the money (there is none FYI). I was doing it to be the best on that stage, on that day, at that time. Not be second place or top five and damn sure not the dreaded "15th place", which for those of you who don't know is the placing assigned to everyone beyond 14th when there are more than 15 competitors in a class. In other words, thanks for coming and paying us your entry fee.

Shakespeare is attributed to have said

Striving to better, we oft mar what’s well

Voltaire got in on the act with

The best is the enemy of the good



If you read these from the most common perspective, sometimes you will get the eggs, shells and all, or maybe a second steak, BUT if you turn them around and read them as a perfectionist you get the iPhone and the win.

Good enough will keep you in the game, but the pursuit of perfection is the way to win.
— Yours truly


If there is something in your life that you believe in so passionately that you are willing to give up everything else for, then strive to be better and "mar what is well", be "the enemy of the good" with everything you've got and be remembered for it! 



AttitudeGary LeakeComment