What's GOOD ENOUGH, anyway?

As if to prove just how interconnected we all are (and how blissfully unaware we are of this), my coaching calls in any given time period all seem to center around a particular theme. The theme lately? GOOD ENOUGH.

What's GOOD ENOUGH, anyway?

Well, for a lot of us (I’d venture to say all of you who are reading this post), GOOD ENOUGH seems to mean settling with subpar work; it’s the slippery slope to mediocrity; it’s the status we allow ourselves only when we’ve absolutely run ourselves into the ground and are plumb out of time and bandwidth. And even then, GOOD ENOUGH is less an empowered choice than it is a reluctant surrendering.

But really: What’s GOOD ENOUGH? Like, objectively-speaking?

It’s hard to tell.

(Let’s be real: There’s no way an objective definition of it even exists. But let’s try for one anyway.)

I’d like to propose a new, possibly radical understanding of it.

GOOD ENOUGH is shorthand for two separate determinations:

This is GOOD, and

this is ENOUGH.

 

Why two separate determinations?

Well, my clients are accustomed to excelling and even then, pushing themselves to do more and better. When they hear my suggestion to aim for GOOD ENOUGH, they’re quick to see it as a single unit of measurement: From their perspective, an effort that’s GOOD ENOUGH has barely cleared GOOD. They see the ENOUGH part as a mark below, a minus, points deducted—instead of the qualifying score, a clap on the back, the solid achievement that lands them (still!) in the top percentile.

And when GOOD ENOUGH is seen as something that barely clears GOOD, it’s no wonder we’re going to be far less inclined to willingly aim for it. (After all, who wants to barely be GOOD?!)

This means we’ll continue to aim for EXCELLENT when it comes to each and every endeavor on our list and in our life—and, in the process, cheat ourselves out of the satisfying feeling of being good and being enough...and being able to move on to the next thing that needs our attention.

From my work with clients, then, here’s a list of what I’ve learned about GOOD ENOUGH: 

  • GOOD ENOUGH is sanity-keeping.

  • GOOD ENOUGH is sometimes EXCELLENT, sometimes GOOD, but never POOR or BAD; though it will inspire some fear of the latter two, that fear will prove to be unfounded every single time.

  • GOOD ENOUGH can’t shape-shift into anything less than GOOD ENOUGH.

  • GOOD ENOUGH doesn’t sit atop a slippery slope.

  • GOOD ENOUGH isn’t actually detectable by others.

  • GOOD ENOUGH leaves room for many other endeavors to be GOOD ENOUGH (whereas EXCELLENT usually doesn’t; one thing gets to be EXCELLENT while everything else sort of falls off the radar into...not so much POOR or BAD territory, but more like...OBSOLESCENCE).

  • GOOD ENOUGH is GOOD; GOOD ENOUGH is ENOUGH.

What’s your working definition of GOOD ENOUGH? Do you like mine better? (It's yours to keep.)

Your insight is closer than you think

I've seen it time and time again.

I get on the phone with a person who claims to be really stuck. She's tried a bunch of different things, but nothing much is happening except the same merry-go-round (which is not so merry) of thoughts and problems, would-be solutions and discouraging outcomes.

Is she actually stuck? Do I believe her?

Well, I believe she thinks she's really stuck (which is just as good as being stuck—because, let's face it, there's no objective way to measure stuckness; it's a feeling, and as with any feeling, it ebbs and flows with little to no intervention).

Her thinking is, truthfully, her only problem.

 

So, where do we go first?

Do we unstick her? If so, how? (Asking for a friend, right? ;-)

Do I try to convince her she's not actually stuck, she just thinks she's stuck? And will that be enough to unstick her?

What we do together is explore the thinking that's behind the feeling of stuckness.

 

Questions I might ask her include:

How do you know you're stuck?

What does 'stuck' mean for you?

What's an indication that you're stuck?

Could that be an indication of anything else, or does it always and absolutely point to stuckness?

What are some of the thoughts you find yourself thinking about being stuck?

Why is being stuck a problem for you?

What if being stuck wasn't a problem? What would you do (or not do) then?

Once we can begin to see how her thinking has created the problem (or the problematic feeling of stuckness), we recognize that nothing more—no outward action—is necessary.

It's an inside job, you see.

 

And when she comes to understand that her thoughts are the only obstacle between her present stuckness and her future ease and flow, she sees that the power to unstick is and always was hers and hers alone.

So, her first insight might go something like this: Wait a minute—there isn't an actual problem here!

Followed by: I thought myself into a problem...so, I can probably think myself out of it!

Then: If my thinking about a situation is the only way a problem is or isn't created for me...then, nothing is truly an obstacle for me except my own mind!

And there you have it. That's the insight that everyone, without exception, is always on the brink of when she presents me with her unique stuckness (that's not tongue-in-cheek: The individual flavors of stuckness are absolutely unique in that each person who experiences being stuck is unique; what isn't unique is the gorgeous insight that sparks to life, the one that teaches each person just how powerful her thoughts are in creating her reality).

The reason why coaching might carry on for several sessions is because the above insight is surprisingly difficult to apply, contextually, when folks have (for so, so long) believed their problem of stuckness (or fill-in-the-blank with your particular problem) was an externally-created problem, or an internally-created problem requiring an external fix. Sometimes it takes us a handful of sessions together before we've properly and thoroughly established that nearly all of our perceived obstacles are inside jobs.*

And to understand on a cellular level that we're always only one thought away from having an entirely different experience.

*I hope it goes without saying that I absolutely believe in the existence of true obstacles, including but not limited to: grave illness/addiction, homelessness and/or dire poverty, war, abuse. The obstacles I'm referring to in the blog post above are of the thought-created variety—how we see ourselves in the world and what we believe about ourselves—though they almost always feel as if they're true obstacles.

The impossibility of impossibility

As a human and as a coach, I stand against impossibility.

I just don’t believe in it. And so nothing is impossible for me.

I’m not bright-siding when I say this, nor am I plugging my ears and la-la-la-ing myself into a state of denial.

I’m simply but profoundly aware of my immense power to create whatever I want for myself—if only my own mind doesn’t get in the way. And that’s one of my more important jobs: not to let it get in the way.

I believe the same is possible for you, too: You are perfectly capable of getting what you want, IF YOU BELIEVE YOU ARE. And if you truly honor the lifelong task of not letting your own mind get in the way.

What feels impossible for you today? Have you remembered to punch in at your crucial job: to guard possibility from an encroaching nay-saying mind?

You're more ready than you think

I don’t believe you when you say you’re not ready. I just don’t.

I believe you’re scared, sure.

I believe you’re cautious, absolutely.

I believe you’re uncertain about how this thing will shake out, yup.

But not ready? I don’t buy it.

True readiness has nothing to do with fear, caution, or uncertainty; being ready doesn’t require the presence or absence of specific feelings.

 

This is difficult for you to grasp, I know, because somewhere along the way, you got the idea that readiness is linked to emotion—hell, that readiness IS an emotion. You’ve long thought you need to FEEL ready before you ARE ready.

Let me tell you something: Readiness is a decision. It’s a commitment. It’s active.

It doesn’t happen TO you. You CHOOSE it for yourself.

So, when you say you’re not ready and I say I don’t believe you, what I mean is this: I know you’re capable of deciding to be ready; I know you’re capable of commitment; I know you’re capable of take acting whenever you want to, regardless of how you feel.

You’re far more powerful than you think. I see it in you.

Isn't it time you commit to that first, small step of sending me a message (“Helen, this resonates with me!” will do just fine)—so I can tell you, specifically, just how powerful I know you are?

How would you explain it to a child?

As a human and as a coach, I stand against over-complication.

If it can be said simply, say it simply.

If it can be done easily, do it easily.

Shortcuts are usually good (unless they compromise integrity—use your best judgment).

Shorthand tends to get the point across.

Over-complicating serves no one, least of all you. It doesn’t even earn you brownie points or gold stars.

You want to be a hero? Volunteer to teach someone to read. Listen deeply when someone speaks to you. Help someone change a flat tire.

But don’t make things harder than they need to be. That’s not heroic. Valor is never attributed to the people who, for kicks, create more hoops for themselves to jump through. We don’t revere those folks; we pity them.

If you’re uncertain about whether or not you’re over-complicating it (whatever ‘it’ is), ask yourself: How am I making this harder than it needs to be? See what comes up.

If nothing comes up, try imagining you’re explaining the process to a small child.

What wouldn’t she understand?

What steps would need to be reconsidered because they’re just too involved, maybe even excessive?

How would you suggest she pace herself, to achieve this thing?

Should she try to do all the steps at once, or would you recommend she stretch them out over the course of a week or a month?

Do you stand against over-complication, too? But do you find yourself somehow over-complicating things anyway? Tell me about it below.

This is your very first step

I can share with you all the best tips for approaching your Big, “Impossible” Thing. I can help you figure out what your first small step is—or, if you’ve already begun (go, you!), I can help you figure out your next small step. I can work with you to create an effective and consistent roadmap for going after and getting the thing you want.

But what I can’t give you is your WHY. WHY you’re driven to pursue your Big, “Impossible” Thing in the first place. The deep need or desire that’s at its core. Only you feel that in your heart, and only you can communicate it to the world.

If you’re not so sure you know your WHY, that right there’s your first step.

Before roadmapping or logo-designing or outlining or editing a single page on your website or sending an email inquiry—before all of that comes the very preliminary, very crucial step of determining WHY you need to realize this vision in your lifetime.

Without your WHY, you can spend all the time in the world on the legwork of your Big, “Impossible” Thing...and still not have a sense of clarity (and that essential resolve) when it comes to the big picture.

A WHY flings you out of bed in the morning. A WHY makes those necessary admin tasks a whole lot less of a drag. A WHY opens your eyes to opportunity and paves the way for serendipity.

Though I can’t just hand you any old WHY, I can help you dig around and determine yours. I promise you it’s there inside you—you only need a little assistance to articulate it.

Are you clear on your WHY? Leave a comment below, or email me—I’d love to learn what you’re up to, and WHY it’s so important to you.

When it's time to audit the beliefs you hold about yourself

As a human and as a coach, I stand for choice in all things—including our relationship with ourselves.

Recently, I worked with a client who was under the impression she had to believe everything she thought about herself. She reasoned that, because she thought it (and knows herself better than anyone), it followed the thought must be true. An indisputable fact.

For years she’d been operating within a long-held suspicion, a hunch, that she was deeply flawed. Like, flawed in a way that nothing could fix, that she couldn’t blame on anything external. Flawed in the sense of being defective. Of containing a manufacturing error. Not-good-enough all the way down to her core.

Mind you: This woman is remarkably intelligent and capable. She’s gifted, yes, but more than that, she’s tenacious and focused, highly creative, and visionary.

There are imperfections, because those exist within all of us. But she isn’t defective (nor are you, nor am I). Machinery can be defective; people cannot.

Anyway, the meat of our coaching conversation was uncovering where she was repeatedly buying into a belief system that not only failed to support and empower her, but was one she’d never consciously CHOOSE for herself.

So then, after locating where her autopilot thinking kicked it and kept her in a mindset of deficiency, our job together was to bring a level of CONSCIOUSNESS and CHOICE to her thoughts. THINKING them might be out of her control, but BELIEVING them is a decision.

Each of us gets to make choices all the livelong day about what we believe—even, and I daresay especially, when it comes to the self-beliefs that run through our brains.

Do you suspect you need an audit performed on your self-beliefs?

(Pssst! A different client of mine once said about me, “She's a really good and empathetic listener, but also skilled at synthesizing information and getting it back to you quickly so you can really see what you've been saying and thinking and believing about yourself.”)

Email me if you’re ready to examine some of those thoughts and question some of those beliefs (and then maybe choose some different, better beliefs). I’m here to help.

Your imagination can be used for worry OR creation—which will you use it for?

As a human and as a coach, I stand for using the imagination as a tool for creation, not for worry.

My coaching role model, Steve Chandler, taught me this distinction, and now I see it everywhere.

You can use your imagination to envision the future YOU FEAR—one that’s ripe with worst case scenarios and disappointments, unrecoverable failures and powerlessness—and then live timidly so as to avoid all that could go wrong (because you’ve given that possible bad fate so much of your energy, it’s become all the more frightening; a boogeyman of epic (though entirely self-created!) proportion).

Or, you can use your imagination to envision the future YOU WANT—the joy, the success, the connection, the health, the you-name-it—and then live fully, robustly, and confidently (because you’ve decided that's the future you’ll engender for yourself).

One is PASSIVE (“What’s going to happen to me?!”), while the other is ACTIVE (“What will I make happen for myself?”).

One is a VICTIM mentality, while the other is an OWNER mentality.

If we all truly have the power to create our reality through the thoughts we think and the beliefs we believe (and we do!), then why not use our imaginations to think up some really awesome, really desirable states of affairs for ourselves...instead of using them to fear the worst, as though we’re living life on some kind of dread spectrum, hopeful things will be slightly less bad than we fear they’ll be.

Where do you need to shift out of a worry mindset and into a creation mindset? Want some help? (It’s easier to do with a buddy.) Comment below or email me, and we can hop on the phone to get you owning the future you want.

Which came first: the feeling or the action?

As a human and as a coach, I stand for FEELING AS A BYPRODUCT OF ACTION.

So many of us (myself included) have, at one point of another, fooled ourselves into thinking we must feel a certain way before we take action; we’ve made FEELING the prerequisite for DOING.

Since becoming a coach, I’ve come to see and believe that all of us are capable of DOING—regardless of our motivation, readiness, or energy.

I’ll admit there have been times I’ve definitely said (and believed! That’s the trickiest part!) something along the lines of: “I don’t feel motivated to do X,” “I’m not ready to do X,” or “I just don’t have the energy to do X right now.”

Over the years, I’ve recognized this very same tendency in my clients. We've used these beliefs as reasons for why we’re not taking action to achieve the things we say we want to achieve. The yoga practice we want to start, the catering business we want to bring to life, the half-digitized family photo album we envision passing along to the next generation. We’ve become so familiar with these excuses that we don’t question whether or not they hold water.

We’ve accepted them as reasonable beliefs—hell, maybe we’ve even promoted them to facts—for why forward movement in the direction of our dreams isn’t possible right now.

We’ve conditioned ourselves to be more than okay with putting off our deepest desires, our wouldn’t-it-be-awesome-ifs, until some elusive (and not even promised to us) future date.

At which point...what exactly? We believe the stars will align, all systems go, and our dreams will emerge from us effortlessly and unconditionally?

Oy. That sounds like a direct path to having deathbed regrets.

And if there’s one thing my work is in fierce opposition to, it’s deathbed regrets. They’re just not necessary. We’re all too powerful and capable to live our whole lives wishing for more and to die feeling disappointed.

I’m here to help you identify those screwy beliefs that are keeping you static and holding your dreams always at arm’s length.

I’m also here to tell you: Don’t wait for the right feelings to show up before you take your first step; take your first step and then see what feelings show up.

Risk-taker, mistake-maker

As a human and as a coach, I stand for risk-taking and mistake-making in the name of growth.

Some risks are smaller and some mistakes larger than others—but if we really pay attention, we’ll notice the powerful learning opportunities that all risks and all mistakes provide us with, no exceptions.

For me, cooking is a near-daily risk (albeit a small one), as I’m not super confident in the kitchen.

I can follow any recipe like a good student, but the thought of improvising stirs up (there I go again with the puns) a ton of self-doubt.

At the same time, what I learn about myself from engaging in an activity that intimidates me is HUGE.

It gives me invaluable self-knowledge that can be applied to other, different pursuits. I know more about myself as a wife, a business owner, and a yogi from the simple act of trying new things in the kitchen.

In my coaching work, I help folks lean in to the stuff that feels really edgy for them, the equal-parts-exhilarating-and-terrifying options in their lives, because it’s right there, in taking those risks, that real growth happens.

And what’s so freaking cool is: Growth happens regardless of outcome!

You can make a giant mistake in the process of going after your vision; you can even fail gloriously and fantastically—but you’ve become someone new for having attempted the thing in the first place.

Looking for someone to hold you to your edge, and then support you as you grow there? I’m your woman. Leave a comment below for a complimentary coaching session.

Creative Problem-Solving

As a human and as a coach, I stand for creative problem-solving.

In my day-to-day life, this might look like slapping some craft paint (all kinds of greens and blues, if you were curious) on a whole pile of black picture frames I bought years ago when I was Serious About Uniformly-Framed Art On My Apartment Gallery Wall.

In my coaching work, this often looks like reframing (ha, see what I did there?) the situation to inspire rather than deflate.

Sometimes that means my client and I make a game out of the ultimate objective—who doesn’t love games?—or we come up with little mental if/then autopilot maneuvers to try out when the going gets tough.

The upshot in both cases is FUN; when we bring fun into the equation, problems become opportunities for playful experimentation.

And experimentation is always where we find our best solutions.

I now offer single sessions (goodbye, expensive packages!), so if you’d like a little creative assistance with your problem, let’s talk about how I can help you.