Friday, September 18, 2009

Good Enough: The New Achievement

So the other day, someone passed around an article about how “Good Enough” really is acceptable now. Okay, so I get that I’m a bit of a freak-o, over-achiever by nature and I don’t sit and do absolutely nothing well (note: I’m actually WAY better at that than I used to be; I can sit and watch a show without multitasking…true story!); however, why is good enough and average now acceptable?

This thought process has actually been building all week for me. The week started with me hearing a news story on how the American economy is number two for the first time ever (we’re now behind Switzerland). No knock on the Swiss, but really? I was shocked by this one...but apparently they’ve really got it together over there. Well done! On the heals of this I was told by a co-worker that their child’s new schedule was really putting pressure on them because it caused them to have to spend more time at night reading and helping their kid adjust to their new grade level and work load. (Uhm, isn’t that part of the parental gig?) But the topper for me was then the aforementioned article.

This all has me thinking now (shocker, I know) about how we as a society have changed. Good enough and average are now the norm. Few seem to strive for something different…for something better. Outside of the sports realm, what do we try and excel in, collectively, on a regular basis? Sure, we say “we’re the best”, but story after story shows that we’re falling behind other countries in education, humanitarian efforts and scientific advancements.

You might be thinking, “but these days have overloaded scheduled thanks to play-dates and excessive sports activities”...right? Perhaps I should clarify then…when I say excel, I don’t mean at things like exhausting our kids with superfluous time fillers and jam-packed schedules. Nope, I’m referring to us seemingly accepting average levels of effort in things like grades, our levels of parenting/hands-on involvement, or advancing and achieving as a society and country as a whole as being “good enough”.

Yeah, yeah, yeah...sure, I see that I’m getting all Andy Rooney on you here, but really, why is good enough okay now, but for the generations before, for the Great Generation and Baby Boomers, good enough wasn’t even an option? Yet some how, when my generation, Generation X, took over, we moved the scale over a tad so we could what, kick back and play with our iPhones more? And while I’m on it, heck, we couldn’t even be bothered to take the time to come up with a generation label that stood for something...we’re now Generation X who has given birth to Generation Y. Lame!

Now I’m not saying that I’m going to look at my baby girls and ask them when they get a 97 on something “what happened?” What I am saying is that if they continually bring home 75s, for example (that’s a C, or “average”, here in Texas), I’m gonna have to re-evaluate the current state-of-the-state to see what we can do drive that up to a B or an A.

I’m also not super keen on being second as a Nation. Haven’t we always prided ourselves on being ahead of the curve...being innovators...being the best of the best? Good thing Einstein and Franklin didn’t just accept the status quo as “good enough”; just think of where we’d be if they had? And what if in the 1960’s the young people of the Nation had decided good enough was in fact, just that? Think of all the injustices that would still be in place.

Why not hearken back to a better system of “normal” when we as a country, united to make things better? Why not help those around us and not simply brush it off as someone else’s problem; push yourself to give a little more. Why not want better for your kids than you had; there’s nothing greedy or wrong with that, is there? Let’s not just hope for a better future for our kids, let’s help create one.

As a generation, let’s demand a better label than “X”...better yet, let’s earn a better label! Why not put more value back in academic achievements rather than in sports; perhaps then it will be cool, once again, to excel in school and not to simply “get by” so long as the student remains eligible to play in the big game this weekend.

Perhaps consider teaching our kids that good enough really isn’t, but that their personal best, whatever level that might be, is what’s more important. Remind them that one person can make a difference and that every voice counts; so learn what you can, help who you can and try and make things better than they were before. Tell them and show them, through your actions, that good enough really isn’t...”For the Times They are A-Changin'” and good enough just won’t do.

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