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Raise your hand if you know the answer to the following question:
What’s the enemy of great?
Chances are a montage of social media posts, motivational speeches, and self-help books just flashed through your mind, all proclaiming that “good” is the droid you’re looking for.
Good, they cry, is what’s holding you back from dreaming your quest and manifesting your visions into fantasy.
Good, you must understand, is never good enough.
To truly live, good must die.
You must commit every fiber of yourself every day to the pursuit of great. You must strive, suffer, and surpass. You must go big or go home.
Beware satisfaction, as well.
It’s not enough to never come up short, you must also never come down with a case of contentment.
Remember: whatever you’ve accomplished, you could’ve done at least a little more if all your chips were in the middle.
On and on this philosophy goes, winning wide approval among people from all walks of life.
It rings true because it’s not wholly misguided—by definition, you can’t achieve the extraordinary through the ordinary—but there’s a problem.
It’s impossible to be great all of the time. Most of the time, good enough is all we can muster.
And that’s perfectly okay because, ironically, a whole lot of “good enough” can make you great. In fact, it’s the only way to get there without losing your nerve or sanity.
Think about it for a minute. When’s the last time you were truly outstanding in your performance of any activity? When your faucet was fully open and you were fully in a state of flow?
Now think about how much effort, energy, and presence that demanded, and how drained you probably felt afterward.
Does it make sense to continually expect that from yourself? Of course not.
That’s a surefire way to destroy motivation and mood and eventually burn out because as sexy as perfect is, it’s equally elusive. Like the muse, it can’t be commanded, cajoled, or contracted with. It comes and goes as it pleases.
Thus, appreciate the fleeting moments of perfection but don’t calibrate your expectations to them.
Instead, you should demand something else from yourself—something rather mundane but also readily achievable and sustainable.
That something else is consistency.
In other words, the “big secret” to achieving excellence is developing your ability to be great at being consistent, not consistently great. And this mostly comes down to just showing up again and again and being just good enough to get just a little bit better.
If you can do that, you can make steady progress that compounds over time because it relieves pressure and anxiety, reduces the risk of injury and burnout, and provides useful feedback.
By the same token, “did I show up and put in yeoman’s service?” is a much more productive question to ask yourself at the end of every day than “was I great?” Or even worse, “was I perfect?”
That isn’t to say that standards don’t matter and “good enough” means just going through the motions.
It also doesn’t mean you shouldn’t force yourself to do difficult things or resign yourself to mediocrity.
“Good enough” is about accepting and working with what you’ve got and where you’re at, not what you wish you had or where you want to be.
It means acknowledging the fact that you can’t microwave real results. They take time no matter how “optimized” your approach.
Taking dieting, for example.
Many people want to know the “best” diet for losing weight, and these days, many of those conversations revolve around carbohydrate intake.
According to research conducted by scientists at Stanford University, how much or little carbohydrate you eat doesn’t matter. What does is adherence. That is, people great at being consistent lose the most weight regardless of carbohydrate intake.
The same goes for training.
Simple—even simplistic—programming and rock-solid consistency beats even the most scientifically sound routines and shaky compliance every time.
Similarly, an obsession with heroic effort in the gym is a vice, not a virtue—one that ultimately and inevitably leads to disappointment, injury, and flameout.
So stop trying to have great workouts. Stop trying to be invincible. Stop trying to rush the process.
Strive for consistency instead, stay patient, and in time, once you’ve given enough “good enough,” you’ll find yourself capable of great.
What do you think about this post? Have anything else to share? Let me know in the comments below!