Pre-COVID19 many of us lived our lives driven by a desire for perfection. Whether consciously or subconsciously, the idea that anything short of perfect wasn’t enough informed and directed a great portion of our thoughts and actions.
In business, companies focused on putting out the best products by spending months or years entrenched in development meetings with teams of experts and panels. Their success was determined by their ability to beat out the competition and reach ever-increasing benchmarks.
Teachers were under pressure to do increasingly more in order to help their students achieve higher scores on standardized testing. They were pulled in every direction and told to improve their practice by adding rigor, engagement, social emotional learning, and more significant differentiation.
Parents were pushed to give 100% of attention and focus to their jobs during the day and then expected to go home and immediately jump into giving equal attention to their children until everyone went to sleep.
But all of that’s changed now.
In the wake of uncertainty, we’ve all had to adjust and adapt at the snap of a finger.
Business is not about putting out the best new product. It’s about doing enough to keep as many employees paid as possible. It’s about finding ways to continue working while full companies are forced to work remotely and working around the challenges that it brings.
Teachers and schools are not focused on standardized test scores. Their priority is creating a sense of normalcy for their students and offering support. While they are teaching digitally, the belief that academic achievement is not the end all be all has allowed them to deliver lessons that are perhaps less rigorous but no less valuable.
Parents are trying to get their work done while taking care of their children simultaneously. There is no longer a way to give 100% focus and attention to both at the same time.
Our lives are no longer about perfection. They are about doing the best we can, knowing it’s not going to be perfect, and accepting that it’s enough.
There is a magical weightlessness that comes with the word, “enough.” In some contexts it means the stopping of something in an attempt to not overwhelm. Otherwise it simply means “as much or as many as required.” Either way, it signifies that there is no need for more. It is all that’s needed, just as it stands.
Some may argue that embodying the idea of enough leads to mediocrity, but enough is not synonymous with less quality.
Instead, living in a world that is guided by the acceptance of enough rather than perfection means that you are free from the constant pressure to be, do, give or have more than you possibly can in this moment.
Imagine what it would look like if more businesses were lifestyle businesses, “run by the founders with the aim of sustaining a particular level of income and no more; or to provide a foundation from which to enjoy a particular lifestyle.” Would there be fewer layoffs as a result of trying to grow too large or too quickly?
What if teachers were encouraged to take more time to nurture and develop the whole child rather in a way that was flexible and not dictated by standardized test scores? Would our children be happier, more kind, and just as intelligent? Would education be filled with and maintain more high-quality educators?
If it was encouraged for parents to put their children first over work, would more women be empowered? Would parents feel less guilt or shame about their ability to have a career and care for their families?
I do not have the answers to these questions, but I do know we have entered a period where we value enough over perfection. It’s true that the world is still faced with problems, but we have come to accept ourselves and others with more grace, more patience, and more kindness–and right now, that is enough.