THE PRINCIPAL OF GOOD ENOUGH

It’s never good enough. No matter how much you work at something, you feel it is never good enough. Well, I ask you: When is it good enough? Why do we always feel like our best can never be good enough? When is your best good enough for you and for this society?

Recently, I was perusing the web for inspiring thoughts, when I came up with this self-help website and this quote:

It’s not who you are that holds you back – it’s who you think you’re not.

Every day, I search for all those little things that supposedly make me who I am. I try to play big every day (Remember that old adage – Play Big or Go Home?), but some days I just have to choose to play little. And, that’s OK, too. If you start little, then expand, you will soon be playing big. It just takes time.

Our kids constantly hear about doing their best, when in reality, most people expect them to be perfect. That’s when I think about POGE-The Principle of Good Enough. It is an acronym, (originally a software term from Linux). POGE is defined in Wikipedia as is a rule for software and systems design. It favors quick-and-simple (but potentially extensible) designs over elaborate systems designed by committees. Once the quick-and-simple design is deployed, it can then evolve as needed, driven by user requirements. Ethernet, the internet protocol and the World Wide Web are good examples of this kind of design. This kind of design is not appropriate in systems where it is not possible to evolve the system over time, or where the full functionality is required from the start.

Quantitatively, a measure of “good enough” may be assessed by establishing both a tolerance of only one previous iteration of a design; when the metrics converge to or below the cutoff, then the specification has been satisfied.

In other words, make the best damned thing you can of any product (or situation), and call it good enough! Don’t over- or underestimate; do the task at hand.

My very good friend told me a story about a guy he worked for who needed a very simple computer application. The original worker designed such an elaborate project and after many months it still didn’t work. Finally, my friend was asked to take over the project and he had it done and working in about 3 weeks.  The guy was critical of my friend’s app because it wasn’t ‘sexy’ and relatively basic. The boss was ecstatic because he had something that was ‘good’ enough’ and got his superiors off his back.

Once you believe it is good enough, finish it with pride. When you are at a point where you are satisficed, (Satisficing: a portmanteau of satisfy and suffice; a decision-making strategy that attempts to meet an acceptability threshold), move on to something else.

The ultimate key to success (and thus completion of a project) is keeping the right attitude. We learn to maintain a positive attitude in the face of adversity, and we will have the perseverance to achieve our goals. POGE allows us to accept that sometimes simplicity is good and can be valued just as much as something elaborate and not as effective. It helps us keep overwhelming dilemmas in perspective. It helps us stick to a system of doing things that keeps us organized and unstuck. We learn through trial and error how to get unstuck and to find out where to go from the stuckedness (a term I came up with in my book, Discover The Life You Want To Live). We readjust our attitude and get started again.  

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