Muscle for life

Why “Good Enough” Isn’t Good Enough

Why “Good Enough” Isn’t Good Enough

Two words are the hallmark of mediocrity and laziness. They are…

“Good enough.”

This is the worst attitude to have in your work and indeed, your life. Settling for “good enough” is such a low standard. It means that you simply don’t care enough to be extraordinary. And the reality is, achieving any level of real success requires just that—extraordinary desires, efforts, and persistence.

This complacent attitude keeps us from doing our best work. It keeps us from making the money we want to make and from having the type of life we want. “Good enough” leads to divorce, poverty, and a legacy that reaches no further than the grave.

You want to know a funny, kind of counter-intuitive way to spot a professional? His craft kicks his ass sometimes.  He wants to rip his hair out in frustration because he just can’t put all the pieces together yet. He cares that much about his work.

The “good enough” type of person would never sweat it. He’d shrug, recite his mantra—“it’s good enough”—and blithely carry on with the next uninspired task. And life repays him in kind—with good enough pay, good enough recognition, good enough opportunities.

Don’t be that person.

It’s okay to be discontent with circumstances and strive for things uncomfortably larger. It’s okay to always want more. Don’t try to avoid dissatisfaction—use it to spur you on to greater things, because that’s where true satisfaction is. 

I’m talking about the attainment of BIG goals. The production of BIG effects. Why settle for anything less?

Don’t swing completely to the other end of this spectrum, though: The perfectionist that is never satisfied with anything, that can be pleased by nothing and no one, and that has a rapacious, insatiable drive. That’s no way to live, either.

There’s a balance that you have to strike. Any movement in the right direction should be celebrated, even if it’s just for a moment. Those little steps, when reinforced, can turn into leaping strides. The greatest geniuses in history had incredibly “unattainable” goals but, ironically, they were also incredibly patient.

While working on the lightbulb, Edison famously wrote, “I have not failed 10,000 times. I have successfully found 10,000 ways that will not work.”

Don’t let minor failures convince you to abandon your dreams and replace them with vague, colorless visions that are “good enough.” Always push back. Always figure out how to do it better. Never compromise with what you know you can accomplish.

You are important—maybe more than you know—and you can make a difference in the world. Take it upon yourself to become extraordinary. The world needs you.

As Paul Hawken said in his moving commencement address, “You are brilliant, and the earth is hiring.” Are you up for the job? 


What’s your take on the attitude of “good enough”? Have anything else you’d like to share? Let me know in the comments below!

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I'm Mike and I'm the creator of Muscle for Life and Legion Athletics, and I believe that EVERYONE can achieve the body of their dreams.

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  • Nicolas

    inspiring stuff, nice to read

    • Michael Matthews


  • António

    How do you differ yourself from a perfectionist and someone just wanting to improve himself to really high levels?

    • Michael Matthews

      Good question.

      IMO perfect is a good ideal to strive toward but ultimately is unattainable. I’ll never write the perfect book, create the perfect product, build the perfect business, but I will do my best to come as close to it as possible.

      In terms of standards, I think the problem is high standards without a realistic plan of how to get there. This applies to any area in life IMO. The higher your standards, the more you better be willing to work your ass off and give it everything you’ve got, or you’ll only end up discouraged.

  • Audrey

    As a perfectionist with OCD, sometimes I have to say ‘good enough’ otherwise I would spend hours upon hours on a task. But I see what you mean. I think the key is to be content and accepting of not achieving the goal in that present moment and realize that a goal may take longer to reach (but that doesn’t mean you short change yourself or stop working towards the goal).

    • Michael Matthews

      I totally understand and yes that’s the message. 🙂

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