If you read business books of any kind you will quickly come across the idea from Jim Collins’ book Good to Great that good is the enemy of great. But I was struck again this week as I read an article in Smart Money magazine by Glenn Ruffenach titled “Some Long-Term-Care Insurance is Better than None” that the “good is the enemy of great” axiom doesn’t always hold true. This is especially true in the realm of planning.
The premise of Ruffenach’s article is Voltaire’s quote: “Le mieux est l’ennemi du bien”. While I don’t speak French, this apparently translates to “The best is the enemy of good” or “The perfect is the enemy of the good”. The idea being that while pursuing an unattainable “best solution” we often fail to implement that which would be good enough. In regards to long-term-care insurance Ruffenach argues we often only look at the “best” option which can come with a hefty price tag. Rather than choosing a less expensive option that, while not doing everything still provides enough benefits to stop a financial calamity, we choose instead to eschew any coverage. Thus the best became the enemy of good enough.
I have a colleague who tells of a young couple she was counseling. They did not move forward with their planning because they just could not decide who would be the best guardian for their minor children. While there were many good options, they simply could not settle on who would be the best. As the months/years wore on tragedy struck, both parents were killed in an automobile accident. No guardians had ever been named. After a bitter, expensive and lengthy struggle a guardian was finally appointed by the local court. Again, the best became the enemy of good.
While I believe we should all strive to be the best we can be, we should never let the pursuit of an oft times unattainable “best” solution place us or our loved ones in the worst position. Sometimes good is good enough! As we enter 2012 make the commitment now to get your plan in place. Commit to make decisions, even if they are just good enough.