The Virtues of Lowering your Standards
Wednesday, September 17, 2014 28 Comments
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:
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 Geekshared 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.”
A 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?
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 ADDandSoMuchMore.com.
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 our “kissing 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.
A 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.
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.
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?
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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.
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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 ADDandSoMuchMore.com
(in case you missed the links above)
- Brain-based Coaching with Madelyn Griffith-Haynie
- ABOUT Executive Functioning
- ADD/ADHD and TIME: will ANYthing work?
- ABOUT Activation
- ABOUT black and white thinking.
- Top Ten Reasons to Reframe Procrastination
- Task Anxiety Awareness
- Nine Challenges to Effective Functioning
- ABOUT the Challenges Inventory™
- Alphabet Soup
- Shame on Shoulds
- Moving from Black or White to GREY
- ABOUT Alphabet Disorders & Alphabet City
- Are we hard-wired to hyperfocus on bad news?
- Domino Problems
- The “everything equally well” problem
- Top Ten Tips to Combat “Laziness”
- Lead us Not into Temptation (with Stay off the Slide)
- Repair Deficit
LinkLists of other supports for this article – on ADDandSoMuchMore.com
- When you are NEW to ADD (or this blog/Attentional Struggles/ADD Coaching)
- Variations on ADD-ADHD (Are YOU included in this subset?)
- Individual Challenges Inventory™ Series article-links by category
- LinkList of Articles in the TransitionTamer™ Series
- LinkList of Articles in the TaskMaster™ Series
- LinkList of Articles in the Time & Time Management Series
Related Articles ’round the net
- Janet West’s great take on this topic – Does the Dog Walk You?
- 3 Steps to Become an IMperfectionist
- I Am Tom Nardone, and I Can Make Your Dreams Come True!!!
(always a hoot – never “appropriate”)
- FORGET ABOUT HAVING A ‘TRANSCENDENTAL’ EXPERIENCE!
- Do You Agree the Prefrontal Cortex is ‘Shut-Down’?
- Train Your Brain: How to Reduce Anxiety Through Mindfulness and Meditation
- Why Do We Dance?
BY THE WAY: Since ADDandSoMuchMore.com 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