You Are Good Enough

“Hey Ollin, I want to be a writer, but I worry that I’m not good enough to be writer. Am I good enough?”

“Hey Ollin, I have this great idea for a novel, but I worry that I’m not good enough to bring this story to life. Am I good enough?”

“Hey Ollin, I have this manuscript I’ve been working on for a long time, and I know I tried my best to make it work, and that’s all I could hope for, but I still worry that I’m not good enough–and this is preventing me from sharing my manuscript with others for feedback. Am I good enough?”

“Hey Ollin, I’m ready to publish my novel, I’ve done everything in my capacity to make it the best novel it could ever be, and that’s all I could hope for, but I still worry that I’m not good enough to get this book finally published. Am I good enough?”

Before I answer that question, let me ask you first:

When you ask me “Am I good enough?” do you mean “good” as in “intrinsically worthy”?

“No, Ollin, I don’t mean that. I mean: do I have the chops? Can I pull this thing off? Am I capable? Do I have the ability?”

Okay, I see. Look:

Anyone has “the chops” to do anything. Anyone is capable and has the ability to do anything. Now, if you don’t have the ability you can acquire the ability. If you don’t have the skill you can acquire the skill. If you don’t have the experience you can practice over a long period of time and gain that experience.

Yes, some people may be incapable of certain things because of the adversity they were born into, or because they were forced into a difficult position in life due to no fault of their own. But being born into adversity or experiencing adversity is not in your control. That is out of your control. So whatever is out of your control is something you must simply accept and work with.

But you are not asking me whether you can overcome adversity, you are asking me whether or not you are good enough.

And if you want to know whether or not you can acquire the ability to be good enough, then, yes, of course you can acquire that ability. Everyone can.

But here’s the thing: I’m not sure if you are being totally honest with me here. Because I suspect that everything I just said doesn’t make you feel any better, and doesn’t really answer your question. This is because, I suspect, you already knew everything I just told you.

You’re not stupid.

You know what it takes to be “good” at something. (Good as in: “experienced,” “skillful,” and “able.”) You have been told over and over again ever since you were a kid: “If you want to succeed work really hard over a long period of time, focus, have a vision, study, practice, practice, practice, never give up, and your dreams are likely to come true.”

You see, the “secret formula” to success is, in the end, no big secret: it’s a formula that has been taught to you ever since you could understand the words that were coming out of your parents’ mouths.

So, if you already know what to do in order to be good enough, then why are you still asking me your question?

I suspect that it’s because you are not looking for a “success formula” that would require you to do something. You are looking for a success formula that would require you to be something.

Examining The Real Meaning Behind The Question: “Am I Good Enough?”

When you ask me “Am I good enough?” it appears, at first, like you’re asking me a question about ability and skill, but I strongly suspect that you’re really asking me a question about intrinsic self-worth

Here’s why I think I’m right about the real meaning behind your question:

You already know what to do in order to be good enough. (If you don’t, you must have missed every single motivational speaker that every came to your High School afternoon assembly.) You already know the not-so-secret-formula to success: have a vision, work very hard, study, practice, focus, and never give up. This success formula is available to everyone, and will always be available to everyone no matter who you are or whatever background you have.

So, if you already know what to do in order to be good enough, then why are you still asking me: “Am I good enough?”

It think it’s because you want me to tell you who to be in order to be good enough.

You see, you know what to do already, but you’re just not sure that you can do it.

Let me say that again with slightly different wording: you know that certain things can be done, you just don’t know if YOU can do them. Other people can accomplish things, but the PERTINENT question is can YOU accomplish them? Your question doesn’t have to do with whether or not a task can be accomplished, or whether or not a certain skill can be acquired, it has to do with whether or not your very nature will allow you to accomplish such a task–or master such a skill.

The question is: are YOU good enough?

Not whether or not the work is good enough.

No.

Are YOU good enough?

Not whether or not your experience, your level of skill, or your level of maturity is good enough.

No.

Are YOU good enough?

Not whether or not your idea, your manuscript, or your marketing strategy is good enough.

No.

Are YOU good enough?

Are you, at your very core, good enough?

Fundamentally, intrinsically, at the base level, you are asking me:

“Am I good enough?”

And here is my answer to you:

You Are Good Enough

You are good enough. You are good enough. You are good enough.

If you weren’t, you would not be here. You would not have the urge to write your story. You would not have the urge to follow your passion, you would not struggle so hard to follow your dreams (you wouldn’t struggle at all, because you would have no dreams).

You are good enough because no one in this whole wide world can pull off what you are about to pull off. No one.

You are good enough because every advertisement, every TV show, every movie, every book that featured people who seemed far superior to you was not real. Those people in those fictional worlds were all fake. Those people didn’t exist. They never did and they never will. They were engineered, fabricated, and manufactured to be “good enough.”

But you, on the other hand, are not fake. You are real. You were not “engineered,” “fabricated,” or “manufactured,” you were born.

You were born to be good enough.

You are organic, not plastic. You are four-dimensional, not two-dimensional.

It breaks my heart to think that you could ever question your own majesty. It breaks my heart to think that, somehow, you think you were born flawed, dysfunctional, or with some “essential parts missing.”

You are good enough just as you are. If you weren’t, then why would you be here? Why would you exist? Just so you could spend eternity worrying about how inadequate you are?

No, that’s nonsense.

I won’t accept that from you, because somewhere deep inside you know that isn’t true.

You know that there is no one else in this world you can be, but you. So who else would you need to be in order to be good enough? But you?

much love,

Ollin

Today’s Courage Exercise

Repeat this mantra to yourself all throughout your day:

“I am good enough.”

Or you can also try:

“I was born to be good enough.”

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19 comments on “You Are Good Enough

  1. Christina says:

    Great post Ollin. I struggle with this every day. I worry I’m further down the learning curve than I thought I was, and that I’m not capable of getting to where I need to be. This is despite my writer’s group telling me my fiction is good enough – and a published author telling me the same thing. This is despite a freelance journalist who gets published in the national newspapers telling me I’m really talented and my work is good enough. The issue is self doubt, and it blights us all. Every day.

    I disagree with one point. Some people are incapable because of adversity? No way. Look at Stephen Hawking. I’ve also had my share of adversity – serious illness since 2006 keeping me off work. Last Christmas I could barely walk or drag myself upstairs. I was too weak to dry my own hair. In my previous career I wasn’t a writer, yet I’m getting the above comments? Adversity stops you temporarily, but in the long term it makes you stronger and more determined. You may be interested in my latest post “overcoming adversity”, http://www.cswimsey.com/2012/10/overcoming-adversity.html or you may not🙂. Either way great post Ollin and keep up all your good work. Self doubt affects us all, and it is the dark art which is the biggest threat to a creative – especially me!

    Keep well.

    • Ollin says:

      Hey Christina,

      I said that part because I did not want to belittle or overlook the fact that people have to go through real struggles. For them, it is important to validate that struggle. But of course, they can overcome that struggle, and I linked to my own post about overcoming diversity in that section. So you can go to that post if you want to learn about that issue.

      But I was trying to clear the way, get rid of all the parts of this question that had nothing to do with the question to arrive at the straightforward point.

      This is not an “can I overcome diversity” question. If you have adversity, you just accept the adversity and work with it to overcome it. But here we are talking about intrinsic self-worth.

      I’m working on the assumption that you’re smart: you know you can overcome adversity. That’s not the question, you question is can YOU overcome adversity. Are YOU good enough to overcome adversity.

      My answer is yes: you can.

      I hope that makes sense now.

      • Christina says:

        Good answer Ollin – that sentiment did come through in your original post – it is probably the semantics of “Yes, some people may be incapable of certain things because of the adversity they were born into, or because they were forced into a difficult position in life due to no fault of their own.” which caused me to question. “Semantics” being the operative word. I know you’ve come through your own adversity so I know you know what you are talking about. Respect where it is due – I love your blog🙂 I think creative people do need encouraging on the daily mental battle that is self doubt – myself especially! That is why I liked your post – in fact many of your posts.

        • Ollin says:

          No worries, misunderstandings happen! (Maybe I should have been a bit more clear, oh well.)

          Thanks for your kind words!

          • Christina says:

            Thanks Ollin. I didn’t mean to sound critical – I just meant to raise a discussion point – maybe I should have been clearer too. Oooops – sincere apologies.

            • Ollin says:

              That’s okay Christina! I didn’t think you were being critical, I think you were raising a good discussion point about a part of my argument that was not clear.

              Turns out we are both in agreement! But I am always open to disagreement and constructive criticism, so no worries there!

  2. Sandee says:

    Ollin,

    These words of encouragement were exactly what I needed to hear today (and every day!). Thanks so much for speaking a truth I so desperately need to understand and believe. Why is that so hard?!

  3. Kat says:

    Ollin,

    I want to thank you so much for this post. Your words have touched me. I will follow my dreams, because I AM good enough.

  4. paladin10 says:

    Hey Oliin,

    This is totally uncanny. I’m not a proponent of replying to messages that are canned in nature such as this. But the timing on this subject is exactly what I’ve been asking myself. I feel that I’m at a crossroads in life on deciphering whether or not I really have the credentials within me to become a “writer”. I have this thing in me, that says that I have to have some sort of validation that I am a writer. I have written ebooks, articles for other webmasters and they liked my work. But because I have this , maybe I should call it inferiority complex, that because I didn’t go to journalism school that I don’t deserve to be a writer.

    Times are dry now, and I am desperate for work and deep down I know I can do it. But I always seem to look outwards to find my validation. I can tell you, Oliin, honestly that because of this timely post that I have seemed to find myself. I don’t need someone to tell me who I am. I already know. Thank you so much,

    Jim

  5. Armada Volya says:

    I started writting because my husband told me that I was good enough and should stop saying that I suck at writting. Turns out he was right.
    Thanks for reminding me about it.
    Now off I go to make myself even better with a ton of practise and a red pen.

  6. Yvette Carol says:

    Hi Ollin! Wow, I like that last line, I was born to be good enough. This is an issue I work with most days, and I do say a lot of affirmations. But I haven’t heard this one before and I love it. Thank you!

  7. Sarah says:

    Thank you, what a wonderful post. Time to stop procastinating and waiting for a “sign” that this is the path I should follow. Time to finally right that book thats been desperately trying to get out if me for years!

  8. […] with you. I’ll never leave you. I forgive you for not being perfect, and remember: you are always good enough for […]

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