Don't Be Good

Do you like YouTube? Sure, who doesn’t enjoy turning a two minute long video into an eight hour marathon. Statistics show that 300 hours of video content is uploaded on YouTube every minutes. I like to explore YouTube as well. So many rich entertaining, educating, infatuating things to be viewed. One of my favorite YouTube times is when I am on a cardio machine. I like to watch things that give me new insight and help me get better.


Watching one video recently I was hit with a great comment from a Texas A&M football all access video. In the video Jimbo Fisher was speaking to his team and made a statement that effects all of us.


“When good gets good enough we’re in trouble.”


We live in a time where success is celebrated, but also discouraged. Average is the life many now go with. They accept as Coach Fisher stated that simply good is adequate. It got me to thinking. I am no where perfect and if I’m being honest I have caved to times of average good. Our minds and bodies tell our beliefs that we should stop where we are. That spells trouble. We come to accept that what we have done is at a mark good enough to get by.


In other words, we get complacent and ok with where we are at. On a team, in life, or anywhere that makes things go from troubling to destructing. When a person or group thinks  that the level of good attained is enough they will soon be surpassed by someone else who pressed on. Complacency relaxes us, makes us go on autopilot. When good is good enough we stop, consciously and subconsciously, to find the edge. A sword doesn’t stay sharp it must be sharpened and refined.


We have placed ourselves in mucky waters because of our willingness to be ok with good. We as people are less likely to take risks, push limits, and put in the work. Take some time and look into the work of  Tyler Cowen who is a professor of economics at George Mason University. His opinion on what people in America have become is lazy. You can debate which is worse lazy or complacent I will just throw both out into the trash. Cowen brings about our need for predictability and safeguards in his book “The Complacent Class: The Self-Defeating Quest for the American Dream,”. Our American way often holds on to the hope of just being good and stopping there. While there is certainly a fine line in everything we do tend to overmodify, lower expectations, and create barriers in our minds to satisfy the nature of being good.


“Good is the enemy of great. And that is one of the key reasons why we have so little that becomes great. We don't have great schools, principally because we have good schools. We don't have great government, principally because we have good government. Few people attain great lives, in large part because it is just so easy to settle for a good life.” 

― Jim Collins, Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap... and Others Don't


We can look at the systems people, families, teams, schools, organizations, and governments have put in place to often make sure that once the level of “good” is achieved we stop. Remember, when we stop at good we are in trouble. When we feel as if we are safe and secure in our hierarchy of needs we turn off forward movement. Recently all four major sports leagues (NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL) in America had their amateur drafts. Many of the draftees have now been hit with a crossroads. The tendency to sit back and say “I’ve made it” is acceptable, After all these players did work the majority of their lives to get to this point and no one would bat an eye if they felt that way. With millions now in the bank account it is easy to say “I’m good”. This is also why players, people as well, who get a new contract often have poorer performance that before. Why, because they stopped at good. Cowen’s book also strongly points to the born Americans being comfortably lazy and more or less unwilling to keep striving. He and many have called the hardest working people group in the nation the immigrants because of their supreme desire to push past simply being good. In Adam Grant’s podcast titled “Work Life with Adam Grant” he has an episode about being friends with your enemies. He spoke on a fascinating study done by  Brian E. Pike, Gavin J. Kilduff, and Adam D. Galinsky that pronounced that NCAA basketball teams who’s rival did really well in the previous year’s NCAA Tournament had a better season the following year. They saw that the work that was done previously was simply not good enough. They saw the need to go above and beyond to be better and better. They remember why they started and what the work will mean for them.


“Don’t be afraid to give up the good to go for the great”

― John D. Rockefeller


We are faced with this force every single day in some form. This is why I LOVE the 1% Rule. The rule is to find ways to get just 1% better than before. With those marginal gains we feed our greatness and not the competency of good. We stop shutting ourselves down by thinking we have to go zero to hundred, how about zero to one. Breaking down everything you do and finding ways to accomplish 1% gains will allow us to discover what accomplishments we can set forth in never allowing ourselves to be ok with good. Going from being satisfied with good is uncomfortable. It’s like climbing a rocky mountain only to find that the top is a false peak. Advancing to get better doesn’t mean perfection, it means leaving behind the previous status quo.


Finally, I think of all that this notion of good is. Good is well, good. Who can argue with being good. It is very commendable, but not for the real person. Not being satisfied with good involves many actions that for each circumstance carry a different number. It might be days, weeks, or years (decades) to break through. The enemy tells us that the time is not worth it and we should remain in the good zone. This is why our mentality is more important than the physical. Our mentality is often what goes first when accepting the good fate. We must fight our minds to stay locked in and engaged. When our mind says we are good our body follows because it influences our beliefs.


 Our mind accepts certain things that make it seem like good is the best resort. Use the below sentence to get you thinking about what your (or teams) mindset is at. Then follow it up with an action plan to get better or fix the issue. Sometimes we might have to circle back and find a new way to get better. In that work, even through hardship and failure, we are working to get better meaning we are not accepting of good.


I/We Accept _________________


I/We Will Do _________________ To Get 1% Better


When the idea and feeling of being good is good enough for us to internalize and accept we are in tremendous trouble. We are all in this together even we aren’t on a team. Let’s work to keep each other going to work for improvement and defeat the enemy named Good.



Steven Hovermale