I Don’t Want You to Live a Good Life. Here’s Why.

on December 19, 2011 | in Life in General | by

I don’t want you to live a good life.

I don’t want you to have a good job or a good relationship.

In fact, I don’t even want you to be a good person.

Because good, it turns out, is the enemy of great. Good is the epitome of mediocracy. In fact, too much good can kill your soul.

Before you call me a weirdo who likes to wear goofy glasses (who, me?!), allow me to explain.

* * *

Good is the enemy of great.

– Jim Collins

* * *

“My life is good,” I think to myself every day as I drive to work.

And it is– in fact, it’s damn good. From every outside perspective, I have zero reason to complain.

I have a job that I don’t hate– one that affords me the ability to use my brain, to work with some pretty cool people, and to earn a steady paycheck.

At the age of 27, I own a beautiful home and a little black car and a closet full of clothes (oh, and two super cute dog-children).

Friends: I’ve got them. Family: I have a great one. Guys: There are times when I can’t keep them away from me.

But no matter how good my life is, I just can’t shake the feeling that this isn’t it.

This isn’t the life that is mine; it’s not the life I was built for.

It’s as if I’ve been sitting on the couch my whole life watching a really good TV show– perhaps the best TV show I knew existed– but then waking up one day and realizing that no matter how good it is, well, IT’S STILL JUST A FREAKING TV SHOW.

And HOLY SHIT, maybe I can turn off the TV and get off the couch. Maybe I’m made to live a life that’s so much more than “good”– maybe I’m built to live a life that’s “great.” I mean, even the best HD ain’t got crap on real life.

Most people will look back and realize they did not have a great life… because it’s just so easy to settle for a good life.

– Jim Collins

Do you ever get that feeling too?

This past June, I attended Chris Guillebeau’s World Domination Summit Conference in Portland, Oregon. If you don’t know who Chris is, you really ought to check him out. Chris has the goal of visiting every country in the world by April 7, 2013, and as of today he’s made it to 174/193 countries, kicking ass and taking names along the way.

“If you don’t decide for yourself what you want to get out of life,” says Chris, “someone else will probably end up deciding for you.”

At the conference I met some people who’d found the courage to follow their own versions of great– people like Kim, who’s selling all her crap, quitting her job, and giving it all up to travel the world. People like Joshua, who decided to get rid of– well, 90% of his “stuff,” including his car, his house, and even his six figure job– in order to focus on what was truly meaningful to him. (Read this: “You Are Not Your Khakis: How To Donate 90% Of Your Stuff Without Even Realizing It.”)

Any one of these three could have chosen to settle for the “good” life– they could still be sitting on their couches and watching their lives pass them by. But they aren’t. Instead they’ve chosen to live out their greatness.

We’ve all got our own version of greatness– what’s yours?

Your version may not look the same as Chris’ or Kim’s or Joshua’s– it may not involve traveling the world or quitting your job or getting rid of your crap– and yet whatever it is, it is yours alone to claim.

The one thing standing in your way is just this: In that split second that you drop the “good enough” to reach for the great, your hands will inevitably be empty.

And the truth is, we’re all scared shitless of having empty hands.

We’re so fearful to let go of the “good enough,” because what if we end up with nothing at all?

And yet this is the necessary and the freeing but terrifying truth: that until we are willing to risk it all and to allow ourselves to feel the emptiness of an open palm, our hands will always be too full to reach out and grasp the great.

For those of us who count ourselves among the lucky, the day will come when we no longer feel we have a choice– when the risk of stagnation becomes infinitely greater than the risk of dropping it all.

The day will come when we see that in settling for “good enough,” we are selling ourselves terribly, insanely, ridiculously short.

And perhaps THAT, my friend, is the true risk– that we will never come to know our greatest selves.

* * *

I don’t want you to be a good person.

Nope– I want you to be a great person.

I want you to become the very best version of yourself; that person you were meant to become. I want you to unleash the grandest, most splendid, most insanely amazing display of innate human potential that lies within you.

When it comes to my own life, I’m planning some major changes in 2012– stay tuned.

What about you?

When the year 2012 comes to a close, where is it that you’ll find yourself?

Will you still be settling for the “good enough,” complacently standing by while your potential withers and dies?

Or will you be in pursuit of the great?

# # #


[Image by H.L.I.T]

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  • I truly agree with you on this one. Good is just that good, greatness takes work, but the rewards are brutally beyond what good can offer. I’m happy that you are walking the path of greatness! :)

    • Yes yes yes! I’m happy that you’re walking it with me!

  • Kim

    Hi Therese! Thanks for mentioning me in your fabulous article, I am honored. I really like my good life, but I am so ready to step into my great one.

    • My pleasure, Kim! And I’m so excited for you to step into your great one!!

  • Sarahlou

    As always your post comes at the most perfect moment possible!! Thanks for your wisdom and reassurance that everything will end up just great if we put our minds to it! Love Monday’s for one reason only! x

    • I actually had another post all ready to go, and at the last minute I decided to write a new one instead… so I don’t think it could be a mistake! :) :) Happy to bring some Monday cheer ;-)

  • Here’s to a GREAT 2012! I’m planning some major changes as well. Letting go of the good.

    • Ohhh so excited to hear what they are!

  • Emma

    Thank you! This is exactly what I needed to hear today!

  • Excited to hear what your plans are!

  • confession from a broke degenerate loser: I snuck into WDS. I had no idea you were there! Anyways, I JUST finished a documentary so very aligned with this post. “Discover the Gift”– you should check it out, you may have heart wracking sobs like me because you’ve just experienced a huge “Aha” in your life. xx!

    • Admitting you snuck into WDS… on the internet… priceless! :-)

      I will definitely check it out– tomorrow morning after I get some sleep! Talk soon, missy!

  • You must be psychic, because this was exactly what I needed to read right now. Can’t wait to hear about your plans! Love ya.


    • I get the “mind-reading” comment often– the trick is in my super powered glasses ;-) Shh, don’t tell!

      <3 <3 XoXo

  • 90thatmatters

    Great post. Part of the reason I left my previous job was that when I looked at my past 7yrs I realized I was living good, but wanted an opportunity to chase great.
    Keep up the good work.

    • Love it! Absolutely focus on what matters most.

  • Hi Therese,
    I have to agree that most of us have been conditioned to live the status quo at the expense of our spirit. I say follow your excitement and see where it leads you. Anything beats mediocrity.

    • Agreed, Justin! Don’t worry; I’ve got plans in the works!

  • Simply #AMAZING!!! Love the insight and story.

    I actually left my job as well to pursue leadership development full-time! Excited, nervous, anxious, excited… let the REAL journey begin!


    • Yes; it will be always be a JOURNEY, that’s for sure! Congrats on figuring out what’s important to you, Ryan.

  • Theresa Orlovsky

    Hi! I really enjoy your blog! I’ve been frustrated with the after-college “so what are you going to do now” questions which have now turned into “so what are you going to do after grad school?” or “So what will your job be?” I realize how much I hate how so many people see education and life as itself as a means to an end, instead of an experience.

    In the post college days, I’ve been discussing a lot of the crazy questions with a mentor, and I must say, you are hitting on a lot of things I’ve been discussing with someone who has a Ph.D. in philosophy.

    Also, a lot of what you say reminds me of speaker Matthew Kelly, who repeats over and over that our purpose is to become “the best version of ourselves.”


    Thank you and keep writing!

    • therese

      Hi Theresa,

      That same frustration is shared by so, so, SO many of us! Looks like you’re asking the right questions… and they *aren’t* crazy; not at all!

      Thanks for sharing!

  • Lexi

    I actually cried reading this because it’s so true. I just need to push myself to let go of “good.”

  • Patricia D

    Is it possible to “taste it” without even knowing what “it”is?

    I just return from the best 5-day trip ever rocking it out in my first mind-blowing music festival in Malaysia, and just living. I’m back home and I don’t feel the same. That voice in me that has telling me to “go for it”, whatever it is, is back… after 2 years of working in an awesome advertising/PR company. Maybe my time here is done. Maybe its time to really go for it. Whatever it is…

    Thank you for your post.

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