Why is “good enough” acceptable?
One of my supervisors at my first summer job in 1982 had a saying when he was satisfied with his task at hand, “It’s good enough for government work.” In fact, we actually worked for a government agency, but I think that he would have said this regardless of our employer. This adult really didn’t care whether the job was done right or wrong. What mattered to him was that it was checked off his list. The quality of workmanship or the care in his craft were never on his mind. This “gentleman” was teaching me “the faster we can get it done, the faster we can go on break.” I remember how much this bothered me, even at 14 years old. This “good enough” mentality, that so many of us accept on a daily basis, has literally troubled me for 30+ years since that first summer of employment.
I struggle with this concept in our society on a daily basis. It seems that most people are always on this “race to the bottom” in areas that really matter. What areas of our life should we accept this “good enough” mentality?
Is it OK to be a “good enough” parent?
How about being a “good enough” spouse?
Or even a “good enough” boss?
My answer is a resounding “absolutely not!” If these areas aren’t where you strive to be the best, then are your priorities straight? If you are not trying to be the best parent or spouse that you can be then why did you choose to be one in the first place? These two roles are my priorities by far. With all the distractions of technology and social media, Parenting in 2016 is a true task. There is nothing more important than striving to be the best role model and teaching my children through example. My #1 goal in life is to raise my children into healthy productive adults and I will never stop trying to be a better father.
As a spouse, my wife and I have learned to talk about all of our struggles each day and never ignore the problems that are difficult to discuss. A successful marriage takes an effort that I didn’t know was inside of me. It is constant and difficult work. And, fundamentally, she deserves the strongest effort from me. My best friend in the world should have a spouse that never stops working at being better at that role.
And finally, the last one is my biggest struggle. Being a boss is one of the hardest jobs I have each day. Why? Because the qualities of being a great boss do not come naturally for me. My personality type is on the opposite spectrum of the traits of being a great manager of people. You can be a leader and lack certain sensitivities…… and unfortunately that is me.
Knowing this, I think about improvement in these areas and work on it every week. Why? Because everyone in my life deserves it! My children deserve to have the best parent possible. My wife and partner deserves to have the best husband that I can be. And my employees, who work their tail off, deserve to be treated with respect and shown how valuable they are to our business. “Good enough” is never enough in any of these areas.
So how does this apply to our clients and partners in business? I hear prospective clients and industry insiders make these statements:
“But you won’t see that in print”
“The customer won’t pay for better quality”
“The client doesn’t ask for more than this”
These comments drive me insane. It brings me right back to my boss’s “good enough for government work” statements back in 1982. I don’t understand why a business would want to position themselves as “good enough.” Really? You just want to be an average company and deliver just enough to get by? Are you only delivering the bare minimum to your client? Are you just satisfying them or just finishing the job?
In this dog-eat-dog world, if you are not pushing the limit of your business forward, then you are falling behind your competition. Period! If your customer’s were asked what stands out about you and your business, what would they say? “Photographer X gets the job done and I am happy with them.” That would be great to hear from your customer, right? But wouldn’t this be better: “I am constantly blown away with the level of quality that Photographer X delivers. I can’t get that from anyone else!” Doesn’t that sound Better? This is the level of satisfaction that I am striving for with my business. Are you?
I am thrilled when my business partners give me this kind of feedback:
“My client told me that they saved 30% of their prepress budget due to how clean and accurate my images were and asked me who I am using now for photography.”
“The lab had never seen that level or resolution before. What a huge difference.”
“We strive to have our business thought of as “World Class”, thank you for helping us get to that level.”
These are ACTUAL QUOTES FROM OUR CUSTOMERS over the last few months. My competitor can be happy with “good enough” customer service. Not my business. I want to create a level of support and partnership that they can’t get anywhere else in the world. Is this too high to shoot for? I don’t know, but I can tell you that it isn’t easy and we don’t always succeed. But when you push yourself to go further YOU ARE GOING TO FAIL. However, my experience teaches me that I learn more from failures than success. And I don’t want to succeed at being average. Striving to be the best there is … anywhere… is where I want to position my company. I was reading a forum the other day and I stumbled across this being said about my company from a customer that I had not even spoke to for a while,
“I have never received the level of customer service from any company, in any market, like I have from Capture Integration. They set the bar from which all others should be judged.”
I was blown away when I read that. But it also reaffirmed that all the hard work, the long hours, and teamwork was worth the effort at trying to be the best in the world. It’s these affirmations that make it all worthwhile and let us know that our strategy of not wanting to be “good enough” is the right one to take.
I am sure that there are tasks where you just need to accomplish it and get the job done. For the life of me, I can’t think of one right now. I feel foolish that I can’t even think of a single thing. I guess it is due to the work ethic that my father engrained in me from a young age. He said, “if it’s worth doing, then it’s worth doing right.” I find no holes in that thought process. I am, and I assume most of you, are running a photography business. I wrote this blog to start the process of discussion. What part of our business is it OK to say it’s just “good enough?” Are you delivering the absolute best product possible to the client or one that is just acceptable? I challenge you to think about your life and your business with this same question.