Good is the enemy of best

Vintage teacup on stack of old books

Author’s note: When I have appropriate content, I’m going to be trying to post on Tuesdays about my favorite tea I’m drinking and about subjects that I am finding worth discussing — whatever is topical at the moment, or maybe a life lesson that I’ve recently come to learn.  

I’m definitely not trying to be preachy with any of this but I do believe in lifelong learning and so, wanted to use this platform to share some of my experiences with you all. If it helps one person, it’s worth it.

Did you ever try out for a sport you thought you might be good at and discovered it wasn’t really your thing?  Growing up, I was rarely in the same school for two years straight and I remember trying out for various sports at the urging of my parents:

  • Gymnastics.
  • Soccer.
  • Cheerleading.
  • Basketball.
  • Football.

Me on the balancing beam.

I actually did okay in gymnastics, if a bit too chubby in build, and that somehow gave folks the idea that I was athletic (ha!). But, as the post title suggests, good isn’t necessarily great.  I’m paraphrasing  Oswald Chambers (I think) who was switching around around a quote by Voltaire. But I digress.

So when soccer came around and my older brother signed up, I of course was trudged down to the field to give it a go.

We all discovered, to my parents’ eternal shame, that I can’t kick a ball to save my life.

Later came cheerleading (just as physical, more feminine) and I learned that I don’t have rhythm.

Basketball, I couldn’t quite nail the hand-eye coordination and the concept of dribbling instead of just carrying the ball and running very fast (I mean, dribbling is just a waste of time…)

That inevitably lead to football, and I was assigned in P.E.  as (and I’m about to get VERY technical here), “someone whose job it is to run really hard and fast against the opposing team, and never carry the ball”. Football fans, help me out, is this a linebacker?  Generally this ought to have kept me out of trouble in practices until a fateful day when I accidentally made an interception (go me!) and ran a touchdown… for the opposing side. Ahem.

No more football after that!

That embarrassing childhood story aside, leads me to my point:

“You have to try a lot of things sometimes before you find your perfect fit.”

Put another way, an expression about kissing a lot of frogs springs to mind.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with experimenting. It doesn’t make you a bad person or mean that you’ve necessarily failed either. It’s just not your thing. And being okay at something doesn’t necessarily make it God’s best for your life either.

A more recent case in point…

Recently, I made a decision to turn down an opportunity that just wasn’t the right fit for me, at this point in my life.  It could have been amazing, and it will be, for the right person. After spending several weeks giving it a go, I came to the regrettable conclusion that it just wasn’t my thing.

Now, in that sphere, I’m sure that people may wonder how I could turn down a great opportunity but I do genuinely believe that seeking a great fit means acknowledging when it isn’t you.  Sometimes, to get back to my sport illustration, where there’s natural talent and interest, you can grow into a better fit from where you start. And if that’s you, by all means, keep at it!  Let me know in the comments below if that’s you and I’ll be right beside you, cheering you on.

But if the talent isn’t there, or if your heart just really isn’t into it, I’m here to tell you, it’s okay to say, “Thanks, but no thanks.”  In my opinion, it can take as much courage to admit when something isn’t working than pressing onwards, desperate to make something work when any number of factors may be screaming at you, mutely, trying to get your attention.

Be open to listening.

Be open to being brave and sometimes, saying no.

And if you happen to be in the reverse situation, where you’re facing a mountain and you are determined to climb it, keep at it!

And for all of you looking for a little uplift, here is a recent song I found by Moriah Peters that I hope encourages you. It’s aptly called, Brave.

For more on Oswald Chambers and a related article on trust and decisions, see The Good or The Best? devotional entry.

The phrase “Perfect is the enemy of good” was popularized in Voltaire’s poem, “La Bégueule”  (1772), in which he references an older Italian expression: “Il meglio è nemico del bene” (1603), translated as “The best/better is enemy of the good” (Wikipedia).


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