Singer Billy Joel said, “I am, as I’ve said, merely competent. But in an age of incompetence, that makes me extraordinary.”
Being a good enough therapist is compelling. Besides, there are real upsides of being average. It means you are doing a good job, like the rest of us.
But it’s not your best. (I’m not talking about seeking to be the perfect therapist).
One therapist came up to me during the first break of a workshop. She said, “You know. I like what you’ve said. I’ve been using outcomes measures over the last few months. It’s great. And I’ve figured out how effective I am.”
“Great. What did you discover?”
“I discovered that I’m average,” she replied. “Ok. So what are your thoughts about your performance?” I asked. She said, “Since I’m ok, I’ve decided to stop using the measures.”
To be average is compelling. “The greatest obstacle to discovery is not ignorance—it is the illusion of knowledge,” says Daniel J. Boostin.
So what is the propelling question that is going to drive you to not settle for “good enough”? After you’ve figured out your baseline performance, why bother with all the effort with deliberate practice, reading papers and books, spending hard earned money on workshops after workshops, even recording your sessions and getting help from a supervisor to get better?
It’s important you figure out your WHYs. Hint: The folks I’ve seen highly motivated and brimming with life as they pursue the road to excellence, aren’t focused on themselves. A beautiful paradox.
Competence is an enemy of excellence.
Are you willing to go beyond and walk the long road?
David Foster Wallace said that he thought good nonfiction was a chance to “watch somebody reasonably bright but also reasonably average pay far closer attention and think at far more length about all sorts of different stuff than most of us have a chance to in our daily lives.”
Maybe it’s better not to have New Year’s Resolution but to have New Year’s Absolution. Let’s absolute ourselves for settling for “good enough.”
 Somehow it seems that therapists like Donald Winnicott’s notion of a “good enough” parent, but use it out of context when it was meant to address overzealous parents who were pushing too hard on their kids to be perfect. See this post on the difference between the pursuit of perfection vs excellence.
 Cited in the Art of Thinking Clearly, by Rolf Dobelli