When is “good enough,” Good Enough?

I’ve always been a bit of a perfectionist. I beat myself up when I don’t do things as well as I would like, and frankly there have been times where I’ve treated others around me that same way when things weren’t perfect.

I’ve done a lot of work on that, and occasionally my own executive coach and I continue to work on it!

What prompted me to start writing about it today is a quote from a textbook I once studied while becoming an executive coach. James Flaherty wrote in Coaching: Evoking Excellence in Others:

The mood of organizations is, for the most part, shaped by the willingness of superiors to be satisfied.

That struck me as quite profound and incredibly accurate. What do you think? Have you known organizations with positive, upbeat, “can-do” moods? Perhaps you’re working in one now, or you volunteer somewhere like that.

Maybe you’re even leading that kind of organization. If you’ve witnessed it, I would encourage you to think about the leader — were they willing to be satisfied? Seems like an odd question but when you think about it, I suspect it has some logic to it.

Some of us have probably worked, at one time or another, in the other kind of organization — one where the mood was awkward, angry, or unhappy, challenging in-a-bad-way. Was the leader willing to be satisfied?

Now I’m not suggesting that sometimes we don’t need to strive for perfection.

When I’m traveling, for example, I like to think the pilot flying my plane, or the people at Boeing who built it, are aiming for perfection. But, how often is perfection necessary? When can we allow ourselves to be satisfied?

In his book, Flaherty also proposed “in our society and current culture, dissatisfaction is sometimes seen as a sign of sophistication or an unwillingness to compromise high standards.”

I’m sure that conjures up images for most of us — maybe someone you know, maybe you from time to time?

I’ve certainly had moments like that — unwilling to “compromise my standards” while pushing myself and others beyond our ability.

So I guess what I am asking is this…

When is good enough, good enough? How do you communicate that to your team? And what will it take for your colleagues to believe you? for your team to believe you? for you to believe you?

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