How to Lead Better

The Beauty of Good and Good Enough

How to Lead Better

The Beauty of Good and Good Enough

What is the difference between what does ‘good’ look like and what does ‘good enough’ look like?

The question ‘what does good look like?’ is around us having an orientation towards which we are moving. There’s a quote by Stoic philosopher Seneca, that goes along the lines of: ‘No wind is favourable unless we know to which port we are sailing.’

And it’s this idea of directionality – in what direction do we want to head? And from understanding that, how do we recognise if we are moving towards or away from what we want more of or what we want less of? – that what does good look like speaks to.

And what we want less of is just as important as what we want more of.

Sometimes the greatest impact comes from something we want to move away from. Whereas what we want more of might be something we want to move towards.

There’s a really useful framework called the Choice Points framework by Dr Russ Harris, that can be useful in unpacking, “What does good look like?” Because it asks us to think about:

  • what’s valuable to us?
  • what has priority in terms of our time, our attention, our effort, our emotions?
  • where do we want to invest?

Because ‘what does good look like?’ can be a whole of life question. But equally for a team it can be ‘what does good look like for us in this meeting?’ In a conversation, it can be ‘what does good look like for us to have resolved or to have come to next steps on, in the next 20 minutes?’

As I coach senior executives I kick off each session with ‘what does good look like for our time together?’ even though we will have exchanged emails in the days leading up,  because something may have happened just that morning that means that that is what they we need to take a deep dive on, and there’s no point us trying to focus on what we emailed about because this issue has taken over the whole scenario.

What does good look like is such a useful tool to focus attention and get to the heart of what’s important.

It’s about setting an orientation, a directionality, but not in some fuzzy way. It’s actually saying this is where we are heading towards, this is the port we are sailing towards.

What does good enough looks like is about how we get there, and that may not be in the way that we think we’re going to as we as we leave port now.

So what is ‘good enough’?

Good enough is asks us to embrace ‘that’s good enough now for us to make progress’ and to let go of needing to be perfect and having all the answers. But it’s good enough to take the next step and then the next step. It helps us avoid perfectionism and get out of procrastination because we know it doesn’t need to be all of the answer, for all of time. It is enough that it moves us in the directionality of what we’ve decided defined good is.

So that’s the distinction between the two and you can see how they work beautifully together, with ‘what does good look like?’ setting the orientation and direction in which you are heading and ‘what is a good enough?’ to make progress towards it.

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