January 20, 2023
I struggle with accepting ‘good enough’. To me, it means mediocrity. It means settling. It’s not a comfortable place especially when so much of what you read or see on TV, social media, or whatever you read is about “becoming better than you were yesterday”, “never settle for less”, “always improving”, “optimization to your full potential”… etc…
As I reflect on this past year, I had to accept “what is” as good enough in so many areas of life. I wrestled with it. I fought (still do sometimes) so hard against it. It sometimes tore me up inside. Good enough is simply antithetical to everything we know about optimization in the workplace, as a competitive athlete, what I do as a coach, and yes, even in dating we’re told “not to settle”. And yet, the last few nights I laid awake reflecting on the question, “what if good enough really was good enough; what does this really look like?”
“Good enough for government work”
I can’t think of a statement that would make my blood boil more than that statement while working as a civilian for the DoD. It was exactly this mentality that made me jump from a secure government job I’d been at for a decade to a cybersecurity start-up at the end of 2021. This past year has been nothing short of a roller coaster. I knew it was going to be an adventure, and I knew there’d be more tough days than ‘easy’ ones. But I never thought I’d have to embrace this concept, “it’s good enough for start-up life”. We had very little processes in place and even fewer policies. And like most of life, it’s from our failures where we learn and make real progress. In start-up life, failing FAST and learning and failing again then pivoting is the name of the game in start-up life! So, write a policy, put in a process, and if it works, great. If we fall flat, even better! Get up and let’s try something else. And the cycle continues.
When I reflect on all the programs, processes and policies we’ve implemented over the past year, and how badly we failed at executing and communicating, I can honestly say that putting something in place was good enough. We’ve had to refine our processes several times, and even put checklists in place. We had to start someplace and then we learned from each of our mistakes. We communicate better. We execute better. We are by no means close to optimization, but we are in a much better place today because what we did last year was good enough. This year, we will continue to build on that improvement, and we’ll be operating more efficiently and smoothly. I have hope again.
“Make today better than yesterday. Life is about becoming better.”
I’ll admit I’m as much a sucker for all these self-help motivational quotes as much as the next person. I spend at least 10 hours a week in the gym training and/or coaching others. I use similar quotes to help motivate myself, other teammates, and whomever I’m coaching. As a competitive athlete, there is always something to improve no matter what sport you play. When you compete, you want to be better than your competition, and especially better than your last performance. It’s what drives you.
This year, my training after Masters Nationals, went better than I could have ever expected. Even with a health scare, a major surgery (completely unrelated to lifting), and then physical therapy, my training leading up to Masters Worlds went fantastic. My strength came back, I had no injuries or muscle issues despite pushing myself to ensure I could compete in December. When I peaked, I hit both of my competition openers (which never happens!). I was so excited and felt ready when I got Worlds. I just wanted to have my best performance on the platform. It would’ve made my comeback so much sweeter.
Unfortunately, my Worlds performance was disappointing. I only made 2 of my 6 lifts (1 snatch and 1 clean & jerk). It wasn’t due to weakness from being dehydrated (I had to do a water cut to make weight) nor was it because I wasn’t mentally prepared (like in 2019). My concentration was thrown off at the last second before lifting the bar when I noticed ice chips in my mouth. Ice chips! I couldn’t believe it. I missed my first lift. When I realized what happened, I knew I’d likely overpull on my second lift (which I did). So, it came down to my third lift – it was a “make it or break it” moment. I had to make it. I went up in weight, and made the lift (matching the world record made in that same session). Then for clean & jerks, my first attempt was a world record attempt. I didn’t know this at the time, thank God. I made it, and then missed my last lifts. Sigh.
It’s hard for me to feel good about my performance, and yet… I made two world records and came home with the gold medal. How can I not be satisfied with “good enough”?
“You’re not the kind of girl who settles. Keep not settling.”
I started dating again last year. It had been six years since I had any interest in dating anyone, and even much longer using a dating app to meet people. After talking with an old college friend, I decided to give it a try. However, I was going to take a totally different approach than when I did this a decade ago! I abandoned the first ‘meet’date’ from an awkward get-to-know-you conversation over coffee or lunch to a fun and outdoors game. There is no better way to get to know someone than over a game of golf! A game that shows some skills either in the long or short game. It’s a sport that can make you so feel on top of the world when you know you made contact with ball just right and it lands right in the middle of the fairway, and then totally frustrates you to no end on the very next swing!
Now mind you, I am absolutely terrible at this game! I’m a weightlifter and I swing a golf club like one! However, I’ve learned to love this game in part BECAUSE I am so terrible at it. And so as I was chatting with several guys, many claimed to enjoy playing golf. Yet, when I proposed playing a game, only a handful took me up on the offer. Test #1 complete. Hah! And so a few golf games later, an afternoon shopping in Charlottesville’s downtown outdoor mall, and a bourbon tasting event, I can say my various online dating experiences this time around was actually a lot fun! No terrible asshole experiences. It’s a win!
I know “reality” dating shows make people think dates should either be extravagantly romantic or some kind of dopamine, thrill-seeking experience to stimulate desire, euphoria, attraction, and arousal. But in all honesty, I found I can get all of that in what some may call “the mundane”: staying home, cuddling on the couch, watching football, an easy and comfortable conversation that lasts for hours, a quick lunch at a local Italian restaurant, and a stop at the grocery store before getting together with friends to celebrate the New Year.
This is good enough. Even if it doesn’t last. Nothing does, and it’s okay.
I still may not necessarily be comfortable with good enough, but I am learning to accept what is.
And when I do, I see that good enough really is good enough… for now, and that is all that matters. Now.