Good Enough

On a random Wednesday back in the day (all days back in the days are Wednesdays), a discussion came up about a certain piece of racing equipment. The general consensus among several of us, myself included, was that said piece of equipment was really not very good. At best, it was neutral. At worst, it was a detriment. Another not-be-named party commented that he (or she) thought it was “good enough.” The idea of something being good enough to race with struck me as kind of odd. Now, I am absolutely a totally type-A obsessive person, who probably worries an awful lot about the details, but I’m not sure that’s a bad thing. Of course you don’t want to overlook the “big picture” in favor of the details, i.e., no matter what tires you choose, if you don’t ride your bike, you are S.O.L. But that’s a different issue entirely; I would classify that under the heading of “How Much Speed Can I Buy,” which as a unique and very popular subset of “Laziness.”

This is not same thing. This is about that last one percent that does indeed make a difference. Case in point: the Speedo LZR. I would argue that there is a not a single swimmer (at least by now) not swimming in a LZR who feels his suit is “good enough.” Well, maybe he does, but he’s also probably thinking that just making the finals is “good enough,” or merely that having made it to the Olympics is “good enough.” Said swimmer is not yet at the point of that 1% mattering, at least within the context of the Olympics. Among all swimmers, certainly they are. But isolating them against their competition, they aren’t.

However, at the same time, if you asked of that swimmer, “Do you want to have your best race at the Olympics?” I would think most of them would say, “Yes.” So from that perspective, is anything that doesn’t allow this to happen adequate, even if the best race is simply 7th place instead of 8th place in the semis? Is there anything that is really “good enough”? If you are invested in something then I’d argue that the phrase simply doesn’t have a place in your vocabulary.

“Good enough” is a term that ought to be reserved for the toilets in the restroom at the pool, or the quality of paint of the lines on the road, or the amount of parking at the track. It is a way to describe those things which do not measurably impact your performance, which is to say what you do in training and what you do in racing. If something matters at all, it matters enough that “good enough” is not good enough.

The old adage is, “anything worth doing is worth doing well.” But in sport, or really any endeavor where you have a desire for excellence, it’s not just about the things you do, but also the things you use to support that doing (though I guess choosing what you use when doing is a thing you do, sort of… That was a lot of “dos”). The whole system must work in concert in order to truly excel. There isn’t room for something to just simply be adequate.

I’m sure that sounds obsessive. But in the spirit of cheesy quotes (which I’ve been using, unfortunately, on a fairly regular basis), “Obsessive is a word used by the lazy to describe the dedicated.”

One thought on “Good Enough

  1. The case I found the most puzzling was the Russian backstroke swimmer Arkady Vyatchenin. He was the one with no cap and a remarkably large (but admittedly stylish) bed-head. There may have even been styling product in the bed-head.He tied for the bronze… you have to think a cap (or two like MP) might have got him 1/100 and a Silver medal…. Way to go cool guy.


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