Why “Good” isn’t good enough.
Now at first this sounds a bizarre and relatively unwise declaration. We all long for what is good. A good spouse or significant other, a good job, good investments, good kids, good grades, a good 401-k, good friends, a good vacation, a good movie, a good golf score, good hair, a good book and occasionally a good bottle of wine. By all accounts, good, seems an impressive goal worthy of our efforts and attention. But odd as it may sound, I have learned across time and experience that good is often our greatest mistake.
Time and again I have both watched and experienced how we hang onto good with a vice grip of possessive pride. If we have earned or achieved good we tend to feel satisfied, grateful and protective of the status or experience we have secured. And perhaps rightly so. Good is certainly worth appreciating and nothing to take carelessly for granted. However, I have found that it can be that thing, that experience, that state of mind that keeps us fearfully unwilling to reach for more. More? If things are good, what kind of self-indulgent, entitled person wants more all the time? I do. And so should you.
More money? More cars? More house? More toys? Nope. I’m talking about more life, more memories, more abundance, more connection, more purpose, more spirituality, more impact, more time spent reveling in not merely what is good, but rather that which we would dare describe as great. More often than not we feel so grateful for good that perusing something grander is a risk we are relatively unwilling to take. For some the notion that we deserve the extraordinary takes an enormous amount of reluctant mental gymnastics. Not many of us can boast an internal dialog that insists we are worthy of absolute abundance in all things. The vast majority of us consider ourselves “lucky” if things are good and dare not temp the fates to ask or expect more. As a result I have found that the comfort of good is what keeps us from letting go and reaching for a life of utterly amazing.
If we quit a “good” job to pursue our passion our life might not exactly resemble that of Richard Branson. What if we end up with the decidedly unglamorous reality of struggling to pay rent or make a mortgage payment? If we demand an extraordinary relationship are we going to risk upending the good one we have and making a righteous mess of things or do we dare to become amazing to and for those we love? Do we accept being content with our tidy cul de sac house or does the dream of ten acres with horses or a house on the lake call us like a siren song that we remain afraid to answer? Do we feel satisfied with partners or employees being good or do we expect them to be exceptional? The reality is, good is something we consider to be within our grasp if we are willing to work hard and dedicate ourselves accordingly. But extraordinary is a horse of an entirely different color. And extraordinary never, ever happens without risk. Without risking letting go of comfort, complacency, ease and those things which could rightly be described as good and free falling toward that which is inspired, exceptional and uncommon.
Our oldest daughter was distraught when we moved to Arizona. Growing up as an Army brat moving was a common occurrence in my life but not at all familiar in hers. The notion of a new and very different school, meeting people and making new friends, adjusting to entirely different surroundings…none of this was on her radar screen as being changes she wanted any part in. Her life, her school, her friends were good. And this new adventure wasn’t merely a hard sell, she went into it kicking and screaming. And I don’t blame her one bit. Having moved so many times myself, I knew in my heart of hearts that she would be absolutely fine. But she didn’t know or feel any of my certainty. She was understandably scared and resentful of the risk we were asking her to take. We were asking her to free fall into an absolute unknown and trust only in what WE knew to be true. And she did it. She fell grasping and grabbing into an entirely new life and what she got a hold of was an experience of profound joy and belonging. She became part of a school, a life, a belief and support system of the most remarkable and astonishing kind. She has friends that aren’t merely good friends, they are heroic, no matter what, weather any storm with you, kind of friends. She spends every single day in the midst of an extraordinary experience and I can promise you that forever more in her mind, good will never be good-enough.
For the rest of us life often throws us unwelcome curve balls that force us toward new and different decisions. And just as often we must make deliberate, somewhat terrifying choices in order to earn the extraordinary. So consider perhaps that those curve balls, those upending unwelcome experiences are the greatest gift you’ve ever been given. A chance to reach for something you never would have believed in before. And those times in our life when we choose with courage…those cross-roads where we surrender to the safety of good or risk it all for the possibility of the extraordinary – these are the times we earn what is possible. These are the times that define us. There never is and never will be anything wrong with good. But oddly it is the unlikely culprit in keeping our life, our story, from what it has the ability to become. Letting go is always a daunting, uneasy experience. But it is absolutely essential if we want to grab a life of astonishing instead.