On “Pretty Good” and “Good Enough”

August 13, 2013 § 1 Comment

     When it comes to writing, “pretty good” and “good enough” are not acceptable. That goes for the work we do for ourselves as well as what we do for others.
     Consider for a moment, a few of the synonyms for the above terms: medium, middling, moderate,average, common, adequate,commonplace, ordinary, reasonable, okay, mean, passable, all right, tolerable.
     Is this what we want said of our writing? Will this get us to our goal? Is this what we want to put out there for the world to see? Is that the helpful advice we want to pass on to others concerning their writing?
     Consider the two poems below…

Pretty Good

by Charles Osgood (1933-)
from the Osgood File, 1986

There once was a pretty good student
Who sat in a pretty good class
And was taught by a pretty good teacher
Who always let pretty good pass.
He wasn’t terrific at reading,
He wasn’t a whiz-bang at math,
But for him, education was leading
Straight down a pretty good path.
He didn’t find school too exciting,
But he wanted to do pretty well,
And he did have some trouble with writing
Since nobody taught him to spell.
When doing arithmetic problems,
Pretty good was regarded as fine.
5+5 needn’t always add up to be 10;
A pretty good answer was 9.
The pretty good class that he sat in
Was part of a pretty good school,
And the student was not an exception:
On the contrary, he was the rule.
The pretty good school that he went to
Was there in a pretty good town,
And nobody there seemed to notice
He could not tell a verb from a noun.
The pretty good student in fact was
Part of a pretty good mob.
And the first time he knew what he lacked was
When he looked for a pretty good job.
It was then, when he sought a position,
He discovered that life could be tough,
And he soon had a sneaking suspicion
Pretty good might not be good enough.
The pretty good town in our story
Was part of a pretty good state
Which had pretty good aspirations
And prayed for a pretty good fate.
There once was a pretty good nation
Pretty proud of the greatness it had,
Which learned much too late,
If you want to be great,
Pretty good is, in fact, pretty bad.


Good Enough

My child, beware of “good enough,”
It isn’t made of sterling stuff;
It’s something anyone can do;
It marks the many from the few.
The flaw which may escape the eye
And temporarily get by
Shall weaken underneath the strain
And wreck the ship, the car or plane.
With “good enough,” the car breaks down,
And one falls short of high renown.
My child, remember and be wise,
In “good enough,” disaster lies.
With “good enough,” the failures rest
And lose the one who gives the best.
Who stops at “good enough” shall find
Success has left them far behind.
For this is true of you and your stuff—
Only the best is “good enough.”

Author Unknown


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