Good enough is never good enough, right?

Good enough is never good enough, right?

Have you ever drawn, rehearsed, practiced, written something 1,000 times, starting over again and again, wanting something so much that everything you do becomes “never good enough?”

Never good enough is a philosophy that pushes us toward choosing the riskier more original idea, right? It also encourages us to never stop learning. It propels us to take ideas to the highest level of creative expression, to a limitless level where thoughts can morph into once unimaginable ideas. It gives us the capability to think “Imagine If …” and then to fill in the blanks with our imaginations.

Maybe we could get away with something less, something that is just good enough and doesn’t push the boundaries. But some of us find it really difficult to work in this limiting way, to accept the good enough and to stop. Some call it ambition, willpower and gumption. Others call it  borderline crazy. It’s the constant search for that extra 10% that takes one from great to greatest.

The ambition that comes with never giving up or looking for that extra 10% sits nicely alongside the idea of “wishing upon a star.” When you wish upon a star, you have faith in an idea, you believe that your wish will eventually come true; it’s only a matter of time and patience.

I see many benefits to this never-settling, star-gazing philosophy that can help an organization and empower employees. Always reaching for that next 10%:

  • Inspires innovative leaders
  • Drives successful teams
  • Encourages teams to deliver to tight and unrealistic deadlines
  • Creates out-of-the-box thinking
  • Develops a culture of sharing
  • Drives competition in others
  • Enhances a positive attitude that anything is possible.
  • Creates an attitude for doing
  • Gives momentum to a team, organization and project
  • Instills a sense of purpose
  • Encourages an always-learning mentality

But wishing upon stars and asking for ideas that push boundaries can also come with some drawbacks:

  • Expecting high standards with everyone you work with
  • Pushing when others want to pause
  • Dealing with a feeling of never being fulfilled
  • Always itching to invent the next big thing
  • Pushing a team hard to achieve
  • Forgetting to be thankful and appreciative to those who help
  • Forgetting to stop to smell the roses
  • Being unable to pause and reset
  • Being unaware of the exhausting effect the extra 10% can have on a team

So what is the trick to knowing when good enough really is good enough and when to seek the extra 10%?

I think it helps to balance a team with members who are pragmatic and patient, people who can bring the dreamers among us back down to earth, without a sense of failure, supporters who can give us a cushion to land on, a place to learn from our failures and take off again.

Shooting for the stars isn’t required for every project, every organization or every idea. But a little dash of stardust certainly helps to invigorate and inspire.


Sarah James was ANZ lead for Authentic Leadership in DXC and an advocate for DXC’s Women in Leadership and STEM. Prior to leaving DXC in September 2017, Sarah founded the Empowering Future Leaders blog and was its primary author. With over 15 years of experience in the world of IT, Sarah’s specialty is spatial information and includes integration on projects as diverse as mapping volcanoes in Hawaii to delivering high-tech police vehicles.

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