Many years ago, I was part of a team of marketers in Europe. Our team was made up of people from many countries in Europe and this American. It was almost all women, with one, very quiet, very discreet man. Marketing was undergoing (yet another) transformation and job descriptions had been changed. There was a split between product marketing and campaign management, as well as a combining of strategic campaign management with day to day execution. We had spent lots of time going through the roles and responsibilities before the change happened, but the day to day reality was something different.
We came together in a meeting where we hashed out how we were going to stay sane. Ok, I think the official objective was more like “refining the job description”, but staying sane had become our primary objective. We were trying to do too much. We had identified hundreds of things we felt we should be doing. We all felt overwhelmed after a few weeks of actually trying to do it.
We heard from our marketing leader about strategic priorities. We hashed through everything we were trying to do. And then we started to look at what we could eliminate. The hardest thing to do when redefining job responsibilities is to figure out what you can STOP doing. Often times, even when the job description looks quite different, in the day to day reality, people expect you will continue doing the same things as before.
We needed more hours in the day. There was very little that any of us felt we could stop doing. And a lot of new things we really wanted to do more of and better. Little by little, we came to a realization that we had to let go of something! Actually, we had to let go of a lot of little somethings. So we decided to accept – not the idealistic vision we had of doing our jobs – but something that was good enough.
I had no idea just how lucky I was to be a part of such a discussion. To be able to participate and decide, together, as a team, on how we were going to be effective at our jobs was a privilege. In times of change, having a voice, being heard, is hugely motivating. I admire the manager of that meeting and I am sure that the way I collaborated with my teams later in my career was a direct result of participating in that meeting.
I learned one of the most important lessons in my life at that meeting. I’m damned if I know how we got there – a roomful of Type A women, pulling their hair out and trying so hard to shine. But we walked away with a new name for ourselves. We were the “Good enough marketing” team. We actually put it, subversively, on our new team database – GEM team. It sounded snazzy and people didn’t actually know what the initials were for. Some people in the team probably even forgot where it came from.
I, on the other hand, never forgot. When I find myself seething from frustration because I can’t go fast enough or deep enough or whatever enough, I remind myself. It’s great to set the bar high and maintain standards of excellence. It’s great to constantly seek to improve myself and do better. But at the end of the day, my best is good enough. It has to be. And exactly because I care so much about doing my best, you know what? It is. Good enough.