When “Good Enough” Is Best

In an essay exploring the pitfalls of FOMO, Jacob Burak advocates making do with “good enough” rather than trying to maximize our opportunities – in both business and love:

In business, sacrificing maximisation in favour of a predefined ‘good enough’ is known to be the best strategy in the long run. As the saying goes, ‘Bulls make money, bears make money, pigs get slaughtered’: greediness that looks to maximise doesn’t pay.

Business people also know to ‘leave something on the table’, especially in deals leading to long-term partnerships. Experienced capital market investors understand that aiming to ‘sell at the peak’ will ultimately be less profitable than selling once a satisfactory profit is gained. Corporate graveyards are full of companies that did not stop at a ‘good enough’, profitable product that they could easily market, surrendering instead to ambitious engineers with sophisticated specifications and unrealistic plans. …

Even when it comes to emotional intimacy and love, ‘good enough’ works best. It was the British psychologist Donald Winnicott who gave us the concept of the ‘good-enough mother’ – a mother sufficiently attentive and adequately responsive to her baby’s basic needs. As the baby develops, the mother occasionally ‘fails’ to answer his needs, preparing him for a reality in which he will not always get exactly what he wants, whenever he wants it. The child learns to delay gratification, a key to any form of adult success. As we mature, we make do with ‘good enough’ partners almost by definition. Yes, out there is someone probably more suited to our needs – but we might not live long enough to find him or her.