In an article about the National Football League, Why Good Just Isn’t Good Enough, I read that “poor quarterback play” won’t win them any games. I read an article, Why Good Isn’t Good Enough, that stated we wouldn’t eat food if our server spat on it, even though, “scientifically speaking,” the food was good enough, as in not spoiled. I read an article about our school system, How to Be a Great Leader – Why Good Isn’t Good Enough Anymore, that stated clueless leadership results in lackluster programs because of “facilitators who are nice but so disorganized that they can't tie their shoes.”
Even though the authors didn’t search very hard for unique titles, certainly their collective hearts are in the right place. They are simply advising us that we shouldn’t settle for less, we should strive for more, and in particular, we should strive for great.
But good isn’t less. And I didn’t read anything that remotely sounded like it had actually been good to begin with. “Poor” is not good. Spat on food isn’t good. Disorganized leadership isn’t good. And much else of what I read was similar to this – articles stating that good isn’t good enough, but basing their arguments on situations that were pretty lousy.
So, if we don’t have an understanding of what good is, how can we possibly get to the next level?
The definition of good from Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/good) states: “of a favourable character or tendency.” Some of the listed synonyms include adequate, virtuous, competent, skillful, pleasant, suitable, attractive, decent, respectable, moral, upright, virtuous, noble, worthy, blameless.
That all seems okay. So what’s our problem? Why isn’t good, good enough anymore?
I argue that it is. Good is still good. It still means all of those lovely things listed above. We still use good in meaningful ways. We still use it in a number of expressions:
- “He’s good for it.” You can loan him money and he’ll pay you back.
- “As good as gold.” An assurance of quality.
- “Good riddance.” We’re glad that thing/person is gone.
- “Good for you!” We’re pleased with your news.
- And, of course, “good enough,” which used to be self-explanatory, but now seems to be under attack.
Good is not the problem. We are the problem. There is a scale from bad to good to great, and yes, good is lower on the scale than great, but it’s not bad. Just as your taller friend does not make you shorter, great does not make good bad.
The problem is that we’ve ill-defined good as bad and want to hurdle the middle of the scale and head straight towards the upper echelon. That won’t work. As is the case in the articles listed above, if we are aiming for great from bad thinking bad is good, aren’t we only arriving at good, not great?
(I might want to blame the self-help section in our local bookstores, but that’s for another article: On self-help: You’re not helping.)
The image is taken from GOOD, a global community working towards individual and collective progress. A few of their tweets looked pretty interesting. To check it out, visit: https://twitter.com/GOOD