Never good enough!


It is about 9:35 on Sunday evening and I am Heathrow Airport’s terminal  1 headed towards gate 80 to catch my 22:00 flight to Ireland.  The boarding card says that boarding will close at 9:40 so I need to get moving and get to my gate.

I arrive at a ‘checkpoint’ the lady at the checkpoint is talking with an African gentleman.  I stand and watch hoping that they will conclude their business so that she can scan my boarding card and let me through.  After a couple of minutes I notice that there is an issue and it will not get resolved quickly.  I stay calm despite the urgency to get through this checkpoint.  They keep talking and it is clear he does not understand what she is saying.  She keeps saying that she cannot help him and he has to wait until tomorrow to get his flight and he will then get food on the flight. I intervene.

“What’s the issue that this gentleman if facing?” I ask.  She replies that he is hungry, that he does not have money, that he has to wait until the next day to catch his British Midland flight. I am DELIGHTED – an opportunity to put my Possibility of being of service to work.  I open my wallet and hand over £20 to the man.  The man smiles.  The checkpoint lady says “That is generous of you sir. Thank you.”  I say “Happy to be of service!”.  She scans my boarding card, I thank her, shake hands with the African man and make haste for my boarding gate hoping I will still catch my flight.

I could be happy now.  Some people might even say that I should be happy with myself – I have made a difference to two fellow human beings: one that was hungry and the other who wanted to help him and yet was struggling to do so.  How am I feeling?  I am feeling BAD.  Why is that?  There is a voice in my head and it says “How selfish you were!  What is £20?  It is nothing, you should have given him at least £40! You did not do enough.  You could have done better and SHOULD have done better!”

Then I get it.  This is one of my default positions: NOTHING I do is ever good enough.  I remember all the times I would come home from school and share my test results with my parents.  It was NEVER good enough.  I might have got 86% and it was not good enough because I came second.  I might have come first and that was not good enough because I only got 72%.  I might have got A’s in various subjects and that was not good enough because I got several B’s or a C.

So one of the default settings for my machinery is “Never good enough!”  What can I do about it?  Be mindful and when it talks, let it talk yet pay no heed to what it says.  No more than I would pay heed to what an insane person says.  Nor what a person who is talking gibberish says.  Nor to what a drunk says.  That is the strategy and it does take something to put it into practice because the pull of the default setting is so strong – a lifetime of ‘not good enough, you can do better, you should do better’.

What runs you?