Just Good Enough Is Never Enough

I’ve always found it interesting when people think that others are just good enough…good enough to hold the short end of the stick. It is simply amazing the lengths we can go to justify taking such a view on others.

Ever had that friend who likes to call only when they want something (which means you’re good enough to only be contacted to do them a favor)? How about that cousin who is always broke and wants a few dollars to get them by (which means you’re just good enough for the cash you can spare)? Or that ex who hangs around in your life that will only reach out to you whenever they are down in the dumps or feeling lonely (you’re good enough to be that safety blanket, but not enough to commit to? We’ve all encountered people like this or situations like these. It still doesn’t answer the key question:

What does it mean to be “just good enough” mean?

Is it a nice way to say that “you aren’t my type” without crushing the hopes and dreams of a person whom you like but isn’t as interested in you? Is it the PC way to have someone around who cares about you but all you like about them is what they can do for you (cash, connections)? Is it the productive way to handle a worker who is a whiz at what they do but is just poor management material?

Truth be told, nobody wants to be labeled as just good enough. True, no one is perfect, but it can be a crushing feeling to know that one is not able to attain what we are chasing after – whether it is the partner, promotion or the form of prosperity we’re enamored with in general. Sometimes having to deal with that feeling though can be a perfect opportunity to take a look inside ourselves to do some growth.

– Am I chasing after my goals for the right reasons?

– What happens when I achieve my goal?

– Is this really sustainable?

– What do I need to do to be better?

We may just not want to answer these questions. It could be just chasing a dream on a wing and a prayer, or with the attitude that we grab what we want now and live with the consequences later. Whatever the reasons are, sometimes it is just too painful to see past the glitz and glamour of what we want to examine the ugliness of what needs to happen in order for our want to become reality. And our unwillingness to do this dirty work can often ensure that what we want can never be achieved.

In the realm of dealing with people honesty can often be the best policy. However it is never just enough to tell someone they are not good enough – if we mean each other well there are ways to convey those messages positively. Sometimes you’ve got to call a spade a spade and spell it out and not worry as much about ruffling the recipient’s feathers. But there are times when our culture overly romanticized the “tell it like it is” approach and de-emphasizes the “discretion is the better part of valor” values. It makes us less likely to listen to others and more effective at dressing up truth in the distracting guise of destructive criticism.

No one likes to be used. No one likes to feel unworthy. But, everyone likes to be respected. And earning respect the right ways makes you more than just good enough…even if you don’t always get what you want.


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