When Good Enough Isn’t Good Enough

Published: September 9, 2016

There are few intolerable consequences for settling for good-enough performance. Risking the pursuit of greatness isn’t for everyone. It comes at a cost not many are willing to pay. In most professional endeavors, good enough is good enough. Why, then, do some people, some partners, some teams, and some organizations reach for the sky?

Good enough is comfortable. As a goal, comfort works best if you are an independent performer with no accountability to anyone else. As soon as you factor in the precious cargo of a teammate, the choice to aim low becomes selfish. Unless everyone on the team is unified around mediocrity, the least ambitions and most risk-averse member sets the tone for the group.

The best rewards usually occur in partnerships with others while stretching outside of the comfort zone. Brave investments, time-tested trust, mutual accountability, deep connections, daring discovery, thirst for change, and poised adaptability create the recipe for greatness. It’s shared discomfort that generates creative ideas and novel solutions.

Consider these strategies when comfort and safety are draining the life out of your team:

  • Relocation: change the venue.
  • Reevaluation: entertain a new interpretation.
  • Reorganization: alter the structure.
  • Revitalization: introduce the energy of youth.
  • Reconstitution: add or subtract people from the team.
  • Reboot: unplug and enjoy a fresh start.

The re-“fill-in-the-blank” of anything assumes the desire to take something to the next level. It is fueled by the combined energy of teammates wanting more for themselves, each other, their customers, and their contribution to a better world. Sometimes, you have to shake things up.

Photo of Steve Ritter, the co-founder of The Center for Team Excellence

Steve Ritter

Steve Ritter is an internationally recognized expert on team dynamics whose clients include Fortune 500 companies, professional sports teams, and many educational organizations. He is on the faculty of the Center for Professional Excellence at Elmhurst College where he earned the President's Award for Excellence in Teaching. Steve is the former Senior Vice President, Director of Human Resources at Leaders Bank, named the #1 Best Place to Work in Illinois in 2006 and winner of the American Psychological Association's Psychologically Healthy Workplace Award in 2010. Steve provides ongoing workplace culture consultation to many thriving companies including Kraft Foods, Advocate Health Care, Kellogg's, the Chicago White Sox, AthletiCo, and Northwestern Mutual Financial Network.