The Virtues of Lowering your Standards

 When “Good enough” is Good ENOUGH!

©Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC

Let’s delve deeper into a couple of foundational problems,
particularly for those of us with Executive Functioning dysregulations:

* struggles with activation, and
* the perils of falling victim to black and white thinking.

Hand in hand, each exacerbates the other,
until it’s truly a miracle we ever get anything done at all!

To the neurodiverse AND the neurotypical

On a very different kind of blog, post-production supervisor and self-professed Edit Geek shared his thoughts on the very topic I planned to write about today (the image above is his). He began and ended his relatively brief article with a wonderful synopsis of exactly what I am about to tackle in this article.

In Defense Of ‘Good Enough’

For many people . . . ‘good enough’ is a dirty word. It suggests a lack of care or investment. I think good enough [needs to be] be embraced.

Knowing what is good enough for the work you’re doing allows you to invest [your resources] in the places that will benefit the most.”

The last line of his article is perfect:

“Don’t think of ‘good enough’ as settling for something inferior or imperfect, think of it as striking a perfect balance.”  ~ Dylan Reeve

NOW, let me fill in the middle

. . . from a slightly different vantage point, for a different life-application, speaking to a completely different “audience.”

Chinese finger-trapA Chinese Finger Trap

EVEN THOUGH doing the very BEST one can may seem laudable to a great many productivity gurus, that desire often creates time management problems for practically everyone, and frequently leads to rumination and inaction for many of us.

While the neurodiverse among us are noodling the very best way to tackle something, we’re generally doing nothing much at all otherwise — nothing much that will keep our lives from falling apart, that is — nevermind much of anything that will move us forward.

In an unconscious attempt to calm our rising task anxiety we tend to seek out what I call “avoidance activities” – internet browsing, FaceBook updating, LinkedIn discussing, friending, tweeting, texting, twiddling.  Puttering.

The harder we try to free ourselves from lack-of-activation, the tighter we’re stuck in rumination and awfulizing.

Any shade of completion beats chronic indecision and “procrastination” – hands down!


Be sure to check out the sidebar for how links work on this site, they’re subtle ==>

Any Job Worth Doing is worth doing WELL?

click image for sourceYou don’t say?  ANY job?  Really?!   It sounds more than a little black and white to me.  Perfectionistic, actually.

I haven’t found perfectionism to be a particularly useful trait in anybody‘s life — and it can be a complete disaster in the lives of most of the readers of

In fact, perfectionism and black-and-white thinking is one of the most troublesome of the Nine Challenges to Effective Functioning identified and measured on my Challenges Inventory™.

Let’s not even go there.

QUITE the problem!

While black and white thinking can pose a problem for almost everybody occasionally, ADD/EFDers (and ourkissing cousins) frequently appear to struggle with it to a significantly greater degree than you’ll find in the neurotypical population.  It tends to shut us down faster and to a significantly greater degree, too — and it takes most of us longer to recover.

I have a theory about the source of that sad observation.

Given the years of censure most of us have endured when we don’t do things in a manner that makes sense to the neurotypical mindset, we have developed a learned fear of “doing it wrong” (again!).

We tend to ruminate whenever we aren’t 100% certain how to proceed.

  • Because “wrong” doesn’t suggest a clear opposing concept to make it easy to decide what’s “right,” we’re rarely 100% certain.
  • We seem to get stuck in a decision-loop — endlessly weighing options before we are able to initiate action.
  • “Doing it right” comes in many too many shades of grey – and we certainly wouldn’t want to pick the wrong shade!

A Job Worth Doing is Worth Doing adequately, too

JUST because a task is worth doing, doesn’t mean that it is automatically deserving of top-of-the-line priority focus.  Duh!

(Aren’t these “Do it WELL” folks the same ones who swear that
“slow and steady wins the race?”)

By extension, it’s always seemed to me that if the job’s worth doing at all, any forward progress is good forward progress, right?

“mgh logic” aside, I’ve discovered that much of the world fails to see productivity in any manner other than the one represented by the first version – much of the neurotypical world anyway.

Maybe that kind of thinking works to kick them into gear,
but it certainly doesn’t do much for us.

No matter. They continue to intone it as if it were a universal truth, without stopping to notice that it’s a great big black and white SHOULD.

That’s the tricky thing about Black and White Thinking:  few of us believe that WE do it unless it is pointed out to us, example by example. Until you become aware of an unproductive habit, it’s impossible to do much of anything about it, and the beat goes on.

The problem with someone else pointing it out is that, unless the pointer has stellar, charge-neutral communication skills, we tend to hear it as judgment rather than observation.

Since feeling judged ineffective in any manner generally turns us into fighters or fumers, it’s much more effective to learn to identify it on our own.

So ANY time you find yourself agonizing over a decision or spinning your wheels, unsure how or where to start, consider the possibility that black and white thinking is lurking in the background somewhere.  Don’t agonize over trying to identify it specifically — simply name the dynamic and move ON.

Pareto 80-20A new take on Pareto’s 80-20 rule: At least 80% of the make-wrong we attract is a result of less than 20% of our behavior.  With those odds, it’s a good bet that any shade of grey will attract far fewer negative comments than NO shade of grey.

  • Flip a coin, throw a dart, enie-meenie-minie-mo it.
  • For probably 80% of life’s to-dos, ANY shade of grey is likely to please most of the people most of the time.
  • It is also true that no matter what we do, we will always see the Greek Chorus slouching in our direction, asking why we didn’t, don’t or won’t do things some other way (with a deprecating tone to their tune).

If you’ll take time to notice, those nay-sayers do it to everybody, but we seem to take their not-so-subtle make-wrong to heart more than many.  We’re like canaries in the mine – the first to fade when the air is foul.

As we start to ruminate and our engines begin to stall, we need to remind ourselves that it’s really not about us. Their own insecurities are bleeding through their facades of competency.

They seem to believe that making us wrong will make them right.

We must all do our dead level best to ignore their comments.  Resist giving in to the urge to defend yourself and your choices, attempting to explain.  It slows you down — and they rarely get it anyway.

Lower your standards!

Nobody has TIME to do everything perfectly. “Good enough” is often more than fine.
Forget about doing it “right;” get it DONE!

Play my Least and Quickest game the next time you’re stuck.

For every single part of each task, ask yourself the following two questions:

“What’s the least I can do to get this done?”
“What’s the quickest way I can get it off my plate?”

(Don’t forget that dumping or delegating might handle both of those objectives)

Shoot for a good C-minus

After years of suffering the consequences of mistakes and misunderstandings, most of us here in Alphabet City end up setting our own bar so unrealistically high that it works against us.

We’d have to be super-human to do what we’re agonizing over attempting to do — in some manner we sincerely believe that the rest of the universe probably uses when they do it “right.”

Take a good look around.  Every life has oodles of oopses, large and small.  We get stuck in quicksand primarily because we ruminate over ours while they let theirs go with a laugh or an excuse, and quickly forget they ever happened.

So we tend to do so too – forget about their oopses that is.  Our own come back to haunt us every time we attempt some new task.  We seem to be hard-wired to hyperfocus on the bad.

As we continue to “try harder,” fervently hoping to avoid domino problems, we make it all the more difficult to access our PFC (prefrontal cortex – that part of our brain that orchestrates the executive functions necessary to actually DO much of anything of a cognitive nature).

Our agita has drawn the attention of our old friend Mr. Amygdala, who sounds the alarm and marshals all defenses to fight, flee or freeze. He won’t go back into his cave until we find a way to calm down.  And until he goes back into his cave, we’ll continue to find it difficult to access our higher cognitive abilities.

©Phillip Martin

If you’re scratching your head over the last two paragraphs, you’re probably relatively new here and missed the earlier posts in the ACTIVATION Series. Welcome.

For the Cliff Notes of the frequently referenced Mr. Amygdala metaphor, click HERE for Supercharge To-Do List Functionality and scroll down until you see the little cave man (or search for “Mr. Amygdala”).  It’s a quick couple of paragraphs in the article above, and is a foundational concept.

When we begin by aiming for what many believe is, at BEST, the underside of adequate, Mr. Amygdala snoozes on and we do just fine — as long as we never push so hard that we get frustrated and our stress level goes up.  Repeated stress signals “sensitize” our little cave buddy, and our PFC functioning goes rapidly downhill from there.

IN ANY CASE – What we create shooting for C-minus results is likely to be more in-line with the A-minus jobs of many who aren’t citizens of our universe – since most of us are creative and smart and have no idea, really, what aiming lower actually looks like!  That puts us ahead of most of the pack, as long as we continue to find some way to stay calm enough to get more things done.

Give up the quest for “perfection”

THEY need that “tough love, do all things WELL” approach, apparently – or at least they seem able to accommodate it and continue to think.

WE don’t seem to be able to survive it whole and healthy. Too much of that kind of nonsense aimed our way, and we stop being able to manage very many of those things they are trying to “tough love” us into doing.

So, for heaven sakes, don’t do it to yourself!

Here’s the REAL problem with approaching accomplishment in that black and white all-things-well manner: time, energy and cognitive bandwidth are limited resources.

When we expect ourselves to do everything “to the very best of our abilities,” where do we think we’ll get more of the time, energy and focus necessary to be ABLE to do everything equally well and at the top of our game?

  • Some of us will shut down in overwhelm, then beat ourselves up for our inability to activate, which makes things worse.
  • Some of us have discovered how to transform expectation pressure into a brain-stimulating adrenalin rush that allows us to slip into a getting things done perfectly state of hyperfocus that is just as disabling.

We wear ourselves down to a nub long before we realize we haven’t been functioning very well, so not much of anything was actually accomplished.

Finally exhausted, we slip into depressive ruminations when we can’t “make ourselves” keep up that pace.

As I cautioned you in Tip #7 of the four-part article, TEN “Practices” that beat back ACTIVATION Struggles: don’t tempt fate — STAY OFF THE SLIDE! 

Changing our OWN Expectations

In the second article about the virtues of Getting to good enough, I share more about the exercise that will help you do exactly that —  as long as you are willing to give up the quest for “perfection.”  Stay tuned – don’t miss it!

© 2014, all rights reserved
Check bottom of Home/New to find out the “sharing rules”
(reblogs always okay, and much appreciated)

No TIME to read all this stuff? Want more help?

man-on-phoneOnce my own life recovers from a protracted repair deficit situation where even the ability to use the systems I have put in place was taken from me, watch for the announcement of an upcoming 12-week TeleClass on Modular Success Systems.

It will help you sort through a great many of the “functional modules” so that you can design an action plan guaranteed to be easier than what most of you are currently attempting to work with.

Classes are a much cheaper alternative to hiring my personal coaching services (and the FIRST time I offer a new class is always your least expensive option by far!). As always, class size will be small to allow for personal attention, so don’t miss the announcement if you want to make sure you sign up before the first class fills.

If you already know that this is something you are going to want to be part of, let me know in a comment below and I’ll make sure you have advanced notice (don’t forget to fill in your name and email on the comment form or I won’t be able to contact you).

Meanwhile, keep reading as often as you can! Until my own life recovers, I won’t have the time to post as often as I have in the past, but there is A LOT already on the site.

Don’t waste this free resource – and I’d REALLY appreciate it if you would help me out by taking a few moments from your own life to spread the word about the blog and the upcoming TeleClass, OK?

To double the benefit, whenever you read a new article, make it a habit to pick at least one of the Related Content links to read at the same time (embedded in the text and duplicated in the Related Links at the bottom of every post).

If you’ll “like” or comment after the pages you’ve read, it will help you keep track and will point others to posts you find especially helpful (as well as helping ME to know what you want me to cover in upcoming articles and Series).

As always, if you want notification of new articles in the Time & Task Management Series – or any new posts on this blog – give your email address to the nice form on the top of the skinny column to the right. (You only have to do this once, so if you’ve already asked for notification about a prior series, you’re covered for this one too). STRICT No Spam Policy.

Want to work directly with me? If you’d like some coaching help with anything that came up while you were reading this Series (one-on-one couples or group), click HERE for Brain-based Coaching with mgh, with a contact form at its end (or click the E-me link on the menubar at the top of every page). Fill out the form, submit, and an email SOS is on its way to me; we’ll schedule a call to talk about what you need. I’ll get back to you ASAP (accent on the “P”ossible!). 

You might also be interested in some of the following articles
available right now – on this site and elsewhere.

For links in context: run your cursor over the article above and the dark grey links will turn dark red;
(subtle, so they don’t pull focus while you read, but you can find them to click when you’re ready for them)
— and check out the links to other Related Content in each of the articles themselves —

Related articles right here on
(in case you missed the links above)

LinkLists of other supports for this article – on

Related Articles ’round the net

BY THE WAY: Since is an Evergreen site, I revisit all my content periodically to update content and links — when you link back, like, follow or comment, you STAY on the page. When you do not, you run a high risk of getting replaced by a site with a more generous come-from

About Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, MCC, SCAC
Award-winning ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching field co-founder; [life] Coaching pioneer -- Neurodiversity Advocate, Coach, Mentor & Poster Girl -- Multi-Certified -- 25 years working with EFD [Executive Functioning disorders] and struggles in hundreds of people from all walks of life. I developed and delivered the world's first ADD-specific coach training curriculum: multi-year, brain-based, and ICF Certification tracked. In addition to my expertise in ADD/EF Systems Development Coaching, I am known for training and mentoring globally well-informed ADD Coach LEADERS with the vision to innovate, many of the most visible, knowledgeable and successful ADD Coaches in the field today (several of whom now deliver highly visible ADD coach trainings themselves). For almost a decade, I personally sponsored and facilitated seven monthly, virtual and global, no-charge support and information groups The ADD Hours™ - including The ADD Expert Speakers Series, hosting well-known ADD Professionals who were generous with their information and expertise, joining me in my belief that "It takes a village to educate a world." I am committed to being a thorn in the side of ADD-ignorance in service of changing the way neurodiversity is thought about and treated - seeing "a world that works for everyone" in my lifetime. Get in touch when you're ready to have a life that works BECAUSE of who you are, building on strengths to step off that frustrating treadmill "when 'wanting to' just doesn't get it DONE!"

31 Responses to The Virtues of Lowering your Standards

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  9. Reblogged this on ADD . . . and-so-much-more and commented:

    Consider this a Track-back Tuesday post.

    Late last night (or early this morning, depending on where you are and how you track time), I received a comment from an extremely frustrated ADDer struggling with cellphone and I-pad impulsivity. Most of us can relate, huh?

    You can read her comment HERE (my coaching response follows).

    Double-checking one of my older articles that I suggested she read, I notice that it received fewer “likes” or comments than I thought it would when I wrote it. It struck me that MANY of you who read only occasionally probably missed it, and it’s a goodie. It contains more than a couple foundational concepts that create issues that most people find problematic, and those of us in Alphabet City frequently find debilitating.

    SO . . . I am reblogging my own post, hoping it will provide a few keys to turn a few of YOUR locked doors.

    If you want to add velocity to your self-coaching efforts, take the time to read the articles linked within that post as well. They will open in new tabs/windows, so you can click them as you come to them and keep on reading.



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  19. Hey I shared this on google plus with my peeps and you are crushing it over there
    you have like five comments


    • Thank you, thank you, thank you! You will, no doubt, achieve your gold statue everybody-knows-Nardone aspiration – if only through your ability to know where to post what! I stand in your shadow.

      MY GOAL, for 25 years now, is to become visible to a few pivotal scientists so that they will start thinking in directions congruent with what those of us who deal with ADD/EFD every day know is part of the EF puzzle (especially some of the sleep researchers<==== Linklist to sleep posts).

      I want to shake them out of their confirmation bias so that I can see the puzzle *solved* while I'm still young enough to benefit personally!!! (And I want that damned "H" to be taken out of the name because it causes non-expert doctors to miss WAY too many valid diagnoses.)

      Money? I only need to make enough from what I do to keep me from living in a cardboard box under a bridge, stay off the bread-lines, get around to all the conferences without having to eat peanut butter for a month to pay my way, and be able to afford an actual vacation once in a while. (okay, and a housekeeper, Christmas presents, and a Shih Tzu puppy!)

      RANT WARNING: how come Temple Grandin – through HER first person-account – can change how autism is thought about and treated while ADD is still primarily a big joke to most of the world?

      How come OUR first person-accounts are demonized as "anecdotal" – EVEN when we can quote science like a neurologist? GRRRRR (Rant over)

      Okay Big Boy – educate me. What do I need to do to READ these comments and actually USE that platform? (Maybe I do have tech Alzheimers!)

      I have a G+ account (if I did it right) – but (says she, blushing) I though it was an EMAIL account, and I’ve never used it, except to sign in for blog comments. I just found out yesterday that there are over 5 RSS readers and that I don’t have to use the kludgy WordPress one or hop around blindly.

      How does *anybody* keep up with tech evolution and all the “socials”??? How do YOU?

      Thanks again for helping to get the word out. You are my new best friend.



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  21. janetkwest says:

    I’ve included an excerpt of this in my Sunday 28th blog post. It was along the lines of slowing down. Does the Dog Walk You?

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Pingback: Elias Cresh Is Interested In YOU! | Elias Cresh

And what do YOU think? I'm interested.

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