Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Good Enough

Over the years I have done a little bit of everything. I have painted walls, hung wallpaper, constructed furniture, loaded trucks, shipped parts, changed oil, hung doors, built a camp fire, pitched a tent, reloaded shot gun shells, repainted a car, and grilled steaks. I must confess that in all these activities, I never once had a goal of good enough. My goal was always perfection -- paint where paint belongs, wallpaper seams matched and straight, functional and aesthetically pleasing furniture, trucks with a balanced and safe load, parts shipped to arrive in one piece, oil in the car and not on the driveway, doors that sealed, camp fires that gave heat and light, shot gun shells that delivered their proper load, a car that looks like it was made that way, and steaks medium -- charred on the outside and pink and juicy on the inside.

I do not like the phrase, "good enough." Good enough implies to me I'm beginning with the lofty goal of mediocrity. Good enough implies to me I really don't need to try my best. Good enough implies to me the effort is more a vague intention than a real attempt at getting it right. Well, I say, "good enough never is!"

I agree with the old adage, "If a job is worth doing, it's worth doing right." So why do we often seem to think that good enough is? As I look around today I see lots of examples of poor craftsmanship. I see expensive furniture made with butt joints and not dovetail ones. I get recall notices from car manufactures who inform me parts are out of alignment. I buy pens that won't write. I watch workers stock shelves with dented cans. I have to finish cleaning the car after it has been through the car wash. I look for gifts that will not break the first time they're played with. I am surrounded by companies who overpromise and under deliver.

I am pretty sure if I hung a door that didn't close, my wife would be upset. I am very certain if I shot at a trophy buck with a shell that misfired, I would be upset. I know for a fact if I put more paint on the floor than on the walls my wife will get verbal about my ability. Yes, I know that when I start a task, my goal is not that it's just good enough, but that it's perfect -- or at least as close as I can get to something approaching that. I still take pride in my work. I take pride in my accomplishments. I still drive by the brick wall I helped build and feel a sense of triumph to see the joints still holding, the wall still standing. I believe guys are designed not merely to be good enough, but to be always striving for perfection.

Can you just picture the results from a good enough nuclear weapons safety-switch design?

1 comment :

Micheal said...

As a struggling perfectionist myself I know the feeling of things being just good enough. I have had to learn that sometimes it is okay for things to be good enough for me because it is not perfect. Yet I do find myself having a higher standard than average and that does drive me to do things well and when I do a job well I am then able to take a moderate about of pride in it. Something in men definitely drives use to work so that we can hear those wonderful words from our heavenly Father, "Well done, good and faithful servant."