When Vaguely Right is Good Enough

Too often it is easy to fall into a trap of perfection—many of us experience this challenge from time to time. Simple decisions, such as what to wear or what to eat, can become daunting due to a proliferation of options. But is perfection always required? When is a decision good enough?

Recently I read Triggers: Creating Behavior That Lasts–Becoming the Person You Want to Be by Marshall Goldsmith. Essentially it is a book about the incredible challenge of personal and organizational change. Goldsmith cited one example that I found quite interesting. Goldsmith coached a senior executive who stated that one thing that would make him happy was to improve his golf game. In his late fifties, he had a lot of demands on his time, was never an accomplished athlete, and disliked practicing. Goldsmith asked, “Why don’t you quit worrying about getting better at playing golf and just enjoy it?” His point was that “marginal motivation produces a marginal outcome,” further elaborating:

“If your motivation for a task or goal is in any way compromised—because you lack the skill or don’t take the task seriously, or think what you’ve done so far is good enough—don’t take it on. Find something else to show the world how much you care, not how little.”

My personal take away is that what is most important is to choose what matters. Where do you really want to strive to be the best and make a difference? In comparison, when does being vaguely right and good enough get the job done? You will be much happier and healthier if you choose carefully where you spend your most valuable and limited resource: motivation.

For more on the topic of decisions and choices, see these earlier posts: