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Going with "good enough"

It was "good enough" for my mother

My mother's friend Violet was visiting her on a Sunday afternoon. They were sitting and chatting together in my mother's living room.

Violet interrupted the conversation to say, "Dorothy, do you know that you got a cobweb in the corner of your ceiling there?"

My mother replied with, "Well, I know I probably have cobwebs here and there. But they don't bother me."

Violet then asked her, "Do you mind if I remove it?"

Laughing, my mother replied, "If you like, no problem." 

Violet found a broom (she was familiar with my mother's home) and was able to reach up and remove the cobweb. Then Violet was happy. My mother was happy regardless.

Arbitrary standards

Many of us have rather arbitrary standards about how good something has to be (which vary depending on what that something is).

Yet, we rarely notice that our standards are arbitrary. We think we have the "right standards." Although it's possible that our "standard" may not be good enough, more often than not, for most of us, the standards we have (more accurately, "the standards that have us") are more (or much more) than good enough.

Begin to ask yourself questions like,

  • "Am I reading and learning from this book more than is good enough?"

  • "Am I cleaning my house more than is good enough?"

  • "Am I trying to keep my kids safe more than is good enough?"

  • "Am I trying to be accurate and complete with my taxes more than is good enough?"

  • "Am I putting on my makeup more than is good enough?"

  • "Am I trying to make my plan more than is good enough?"

  • "Am I doing this task in a way that is more than good enough?"

  • "Am I trying to get a score that's more than is good enough?"

  • "Am I trying to earn more money than is good enough?"

  • "Am I trying to do more things than is good enough?"

  • "Am I trying for other's approval or agreement more than is good enough?"

  • "Is my standard for allowing myself to be happy more than is good enough?"

Standards that "have you" that are more than good enough can make Now-Next integrity difficult

In general, my Chinese assistant Heidi enjoys learning English. However, she wasn't as persistent about it as she wanted to be. Her Heidi-Next had a daily standard of the minimum number of new English words she should learn and also how good her retention rate should be for those words. Her Heidi-Now, however, was resistant to keeping a daily routine for learning English because Heidi-Next's standards felt onerous to her. 

Coaching Heidi, I talked directly with Heidi-Now. "Heidi-Now, assuming that Heidi-Next would be agreeable, what would be an acceptable daily standard for learning English?" Heidi-Now shared what that new standard could be. 

Then, speaking with Heidi-Next, I asked, "Heidi-Next, assuming Heidi-Now would consistently cooperate with you in learning English each day using this new proposed standard, would you be willing to experiment with that for a week to see how it goes? After a week, you two could look freshly to see how you might want to continue from there."

Heidi-Next said that she might be able to agree, but she was frightened of what others might think of her for learning English so slowly. 

The fear that keeps arbitrary standards in place

Using the undoing fear process, Heidi shouting out the words, "Holy cats and jeepers creepers, I'm so scared others will blame me for learning English so slowly!" She did this four time speaking loudly, slowly, with a silly voice. She also took herself through the other steps of the choosing courage process regarding this issue. Several says later Heidi shared with me that both Heidi-Now and Heidi-Next were happily learning English each day.

Almost always, without our conscious awareness, it's our resisted fear of what others will (or might) think of our "lower standards" that keeps us from realizing that it's not "our" standards that we're attached to, but the standards that we project that others have about how well we should do something. "Well, I should keep my house as clean and neat as my friend does hers."

Specify what a new "good enough" standard might be (which could include the "standard" of not doing something at all). Then, if you notice any resistance to taking on that new "good enough" standard, take yourself through the "Holy cats..." process (and choosing courage process) to make friends with that fear and to choose courage to experiment with the new standard.

Arbitrary standards can make it hard on Next also

Invariably, our arbitrary standards mean that things take longer than they would otherwise (with "good enough" standards). Since our Next likes to get more things done, this will interfere with how much Next can accomplish and feel happy about.

Consider possible new standards of not doing something at all

  • "Do I really need to clean out the closet?"

  • "Do I need to wash my face every day (or at all)?"

  • "Do I need to reply to that email?"

  • "Do I need to keep up with the news?"

  • "Do I need to memorize the speech?"

  • "Do I need to ask for permission?"

  • "Do I need to go to college?"

Question your assumptions about the standards that others have for you

Consider choosing courage to ask specific people about their standard for how well you do something. You may be surprised at what you learn. For example, you might say to your friend Richard, "You know, I realized that I made up the the idea that you think I should keep my house as clean and neat as you do yours. Is that true? If not, what standard, if any, do you have about how clean and neat I should keep my home?" Then, even if Richard does have a standard for you that is higher than your "good enough" standard, you could still choose courage to do it your way anyway. 

"Good enough" standards are good for everybody!

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