When good enough just isn’t…

So everyone else is satisfied – why is it I’m not?

What I’ve experienced of business thinking is that the goal is the best possible result, at the lowest possible cost, sold for the highest possible price. That means that a product or service is made available on the basis that it’s adequate… and, I guess, if folk are satisfied to buy that product or service at the asked-for price then that only seems to confirm that they think it was.

But in a creative environment I don’t think merely adequate is acceptable – I don’t mean that we should spend forever working on the same thing – because there comes a time when, as Seth Godin would say, you have to ship*

However, the point, I think, is that, having shipped something, even if others find it ‘adequate’ the creative spark within me wants to do better next time.

Of course not every situation we find ourselves in is ideal and therefore – though we might have done our best ‘under the circumstances’ – the results may still be dissatisfying and leave us disappointed and wanting more.

I’m not talking about striving for perfectionism, however; refusing to settle for ‘adequate’ is not perfectionism – it’s a hunger and a desire to raise the personal bar so that our best is better – whatever the circumstances.

“To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift” – Steve Prefontaine

Whether you do what you do for your own pleasure, for the sake of the creative act itself, or whether (as I do when I’m playing my bass guitar in church) you are offering it as a gift – I think the goal is to always present the best you can but also always to seek to be able to offer better next time.

Settling for ‘good enough’ – in my mind at least – is just not good enough.

* I loved the following quote from that same blog post so much that I printed it out and, for several years, displayed it on the wall in my office at work as a reminder.

In a long distance race, everyone gets tired. The winner is the runner who figures out where to put the tired, figures out how to store it away until after the race is over. Sure, he’s tired. Everyone is. That’s not the point. The point is to run. – Seth Godin (Fear of Shipping)

With years of experience playing bass in a wide range of situations a dear friend once said that if you were to cut me in half you'd find the word 'bass' written all the way through - yes I know that's so cliche - but that doesn't make it any less true! Like so many people I have more than one 'day' job - but most of my work-time these days is spent working for Interconnected Solutions.


  1. Good stuff Matt. We always want to strive to be better next time round and we learn from our mistakes and improve upon our enterprises.

    Creative people are always most critical of their own efforts, so Seth is right when he says it’s time to ship. You have to get to a point where you draw a line under it and say ‘that’s finished’ and move on to the next thing.

    Listening back to my recent album I can always find the flaws in in from my point of view, which listeners may well not pick up on. However it took a more refined ear that mine to spot the mobile phone interference on one of the tracks! There’s a lesson for me to learn right there!


    1. Thanks Andy

      “it took a more refined ear that mine to spot the mobile phone interference on one of the tracks! There’s a lesson for me to learn right there!”

      I think that’s exactly the point – not that you then should feel compelled to go back and edit or re-record – that defeats the point of shipping… but of course next time I guess you’ll try to avoid the mobile phone noise….

      Which reminds me of one of those ‘ooops’ moments from a years ago (just how many years that is will be apparent) when I was putting down some bass for a friends project and we were getting an electrical through the channel. We spent a fair amount of time trying to track it down, checking leads, batteries etc. The odd thing was it only seemed to be happening when I was playing – not when the bass was on a stand….
      Eventually we found it ….it was the pager on my belt!!!

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