“The enemy of great is good.”
I’ve been hearing that for the longest time.
You can be comfortable with good.
You can be satisfied with good.
And thus, you will be lulled into some semblance of a dream state – incapable of pressing onward because what you have is already enough.
But, a significant piece of the puzzle is missing in this equation.
Doesn’t it seem necessary to drive through Good on the way to Great?
I’m not super familiar with the high-quality highway. Still, it seems like any opportunity to get to greatness would have to pass through several variations of “good,” to get there.
So, if good is necessary for achieving greatness, what is this adage getting at?
It is a gentle reminder of a few things.
You are unlikely to get somewhere special if you don’t do anything that requires you to stretch.
The path to good comes from what you would expect—consistent effort applied over a reasonably long period.
It’s not sexy, but gosh darn it, it works.
And for most things in our life, this method is tried and true.
If people approached diet and exercise with reasonable consistency over a long period, far fewer gym memberships would be rotting in databases.
But to get somewhere great?
You have to walk in the woods for a while. You have to look and explore and experiment with ideas others haven’t yet considered. You have to be willing to take risks.
Because, in some way, shape, or form, you have to stand out.
And not incrementally.
You need to be memorable.
And you have to recognize the difference between good and great, which might be more complicated than it seems.
On any entrepreneurial path, much sweat is spent to get to “bad.” You work your ass off to make something that can even scrape the surface of its potential. And then, you have to gear up all over again to take this wheezing, coughing, mewling minimum viable product to a place where it looks handsome.
And after what feels like two whole life cycles of a product? Your inclination is to squeeze every drop of value from this handsome product of yours.
But that’s the catch. It’s not ready.
In his book Purple Cow, Seth Godin delivers a line that seems innocuous but cuts deeper than a switchblade:
“Very good is everywhere, and it’s not terribly remarkable.”
I can make you a very good risotto.
I can run a very good 10K.
I can write a very good song.
And for the most part?
The ripples of these are not significant enough to make waves.
In some ways, this sucks to write. And worse to reread.
But there is truth here.
And the silver lining to this grey cloud is that recognizing the gap between good and great is, perhaps, the biggest battle.
To honor that even when you can do something better than many, or even most, it is not enough.
I’ve worked hard to get to where I am now, which I think I can appropriately describe as good.
I think I’m heading into a chapter of pushing into the uncomfortable edges to work toward greatness.
This week I begin recording my first full-scale project, which is slated to be between 13-16 pieces of art, not to mention the full-scale promotion that comes with it.
I have different structures for live performances that I want to work on.
After believing that I can’t sing for most of my life, I might rip the bandaid off, take a song to an open mic, and try not to get booed off the stage.
I want to write a song in Spanish.
And try something in the style of R&B.
And something political.
If my tone sounds confident, let me assure you: It is not.
There is an excellent chance that these experiments will be embarrassing.
And to that, I say:
Because if I’m unwilling to push the edges, then good may be as far as I get.
And that doesn’t sound particularly great to me.
From my Heart to Yours,