May 2008

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
        1 2 3
4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17
18 19 20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28 29 30 31

« Petting | Main | Rational Evil »



All this noise about 80 - 20 reminds me of Tolkien's short story, Leaf by Niggle. A story about a man who kept painting a tree in his garage and painted and painted and couldn't leave it as "good enough" till they carried him off to the cemetery. The garage was destroyed and all that was left of the masterpiece was a single, "Leaf by Niggle."


80%? Go tell that to the kids in school who strive to get into college. Getting by with a C (7 point scale) doesn't usually work out.


I've been an advocate of the 'good enough' way for many years now as any effort to make any job/exercise/chore perfect expands the particular to infinite lengths.
Today, Sunday, I got up, had coffee and cleaned the cat boxes(s), vacuumed the top floor of the house, cut and trimmed the front and the back lawns, weeded two areas of garden took digipix of a buttercup ring in the lawn and some Iris just opening with the neighbour cat strolling by, went to the pharmacy to pick up some pills, bought a hot chicken from the supermarket on the way home and made a lunch for my boss and myself...all before 2pm.
If I didn't use my 'good enough' approach for each job I would still be vacuuming... whereas I'm happily sitting here two fingering stuff to you without thought of using spelcheck... Good enough? It's a Wonderful Life!


I had a calendar on my wall of Zen proverbs -- one said:
"%70 is perfection"

Indian Techie

Thank god for good enough weekend.

Cheers from the silicon valley.

LA Clay

yeah, whatever.


You may have stumbled across a source of conflict in relationships. Meaning: a 75% man and a 95% woman would probably have conflict in a relationship. Maybe a mismatch in the Golden Happiness Ratio is the source of all nagging.


I know dozens of school music teachers who think just like you.

D. Mented

The ones who are satisfied with way less than 80% gravitate to jobs that are responsible for other people's finances, or lives...or the fate of the free world...
The ones who want 110% always seem to end up as my boss.
D. Mented

Noel Hurtley

Right on the mark as usual!


what about pride in what you do? i mean perfectionism is one thing, but you can still be pretty laid back but willing to do a good job at something just to feel proud of it. if you did everything 80% then surely at some point you'll feel like you let yourself down. what if michaelangelo gave 80% on the sistine chapel? or beethoven gave 80%? somehow i don't think you can do that for everything. sure, for unimportant stuff like a job you don't really care about, or tidying around the house, but the rest you've got to at least go for 90-95?

and what about sex? giving only 80%'s really gonna make you popular. i mean i know you're married and everything now but that doesn't mean it's ok...


Somehow, recently I've heard this new mantra which is pretty much your whole post contained in a few words:

Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

How many things never get done because we can't do them "perfectly"? Good is usually good enough.......

Jeff R.

Holy Hannah!
I hope this doesn't apply to the folk who design/build my next motor car - or the surgeon who performs the triple bypass I'll need soon - or the (fill in the obvious blanks)

"Oh! The hip bone's connected to the... myeh, who cares?"

Some tasks don't matter much.
Some do.

We're all glad you're a cartoonist.


I was going to comment but thought... nah.

Avi Bernshaw

"For example, it might surprise you to know I’m a better artist than my comic strip indicates – about 20% better."

Damnit, Scott! When I teach classes on cartooning, I tell kids "You don't have to draw that well or be talented. Just look at Scott Adamseseses 'Dilbert', it looks like it was drawn by a retarded lagomorph on crack, and it's one of the most popular cartoons in the world!"
But now you tell us that you can actually do better, which blows my theory out of the water!
I'd tell them about Gary Larson instead, but no one under the age of 23 seems to know who he is.

Ranting aside, would you be kind enough to post some of this better artwork, Scott?
I'm sure a lot of your readers (by which I mean me) would love to see what you really are capable of when you try.




go lazyness!


i declare this comment "good enou


It's like with anything - there's got to be some common sense balance. Absolute crap is unacceptable of course because the output cannot be used. But if every company waited until something was absolutely 100% perfect before making it available for sale, they'd never release anything at all.

100% perfection, while admirable, is simply overkill for most things. "Good enough" is fine and people should stop feeling guilty about "settling".

And there's no absolute scale for perfection for everything. When cleaning my house, 40% effort done once a week is fine. When doing my taxes, 100% perfection once a year is necessary. When writing reports at work, 20% perfection seems be acceptable. :) Etc, etc...


Huzzah to you sir!


Meh, it'll do.

Chris Kankiewicz

I totally 80% agree with you Scott. Throughout my elementary school years I always strove for that 100% in everything I did. Come middle school I had an epiphany and realized I could have a shit-ton more free time and still pass all of my classes with less work than normal. Come high school and my first job and K-mart, this held true and thus far into my college life as well.

Also, to add to this Happiness Ratio theory of yours, I've noticed that if you can't get something done right, all you have to do is make it pretty. People love things that LOOK good whether or not they actually ARE good. One of my favorite examples for this is the iPod. A very pretty little device that is mediocre at it's job and freezes or crashes all too often... yet it's still the number one music player on the market. What is up with people these days?!


And by 3:52 PM, still no comments ;-)


Pareto's Law holds true for most situations in life!

Og the Invincible

That's a good way of thinking about it. I need to think that way more often. I have problems with my own view of "good enough". I'm getting better, but I've historically been a perfectionist. As a result, little of what I do would satisfy me. I often work extra hard on something, then step back and say, "Hmmm, I could still do more. What if I tried it this way?", and so it would go. In the end, the client I was doing the job for would have been happy had I stopped half way through. It was probably the greatest cause of stress in my life, and it was largely self-induced. The funny thing is, even knowing this, I still can't help myself sometimes...

The comments to this entry are closed.