The good is the enemy of the best

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The good is the enemy of the best

Good is comfortable, easy and most importantly safe. You’re in the middle of the crowd, right where you want to be, unnoticed and average. This proverb hits the mark in every way, from every angle. We settle for mediocre and good all the time these days and especially in adulthood we slowly lower our standards until there’s barely any pride left. I think it’s because the best is so damn hard and makes us vulnerable to criticism. The problem is we measure the best against others, instead of trying to be the best we, as individuals, can be. Two very different things with incredibly different outcomes.

This can spark some interesting discussion if a teacher introduces this proverb at the right time in class. Different cultures, ages and level of English should impact the discussion and perspective. Look for topics in your coursebook that can compliment this proverb and the subsequent conversation, for example: competition, sport, hobbies/leisure activities, jobs, school and education etc. You can ask follow up questions like:

How important is it in your culture to be the best?

Do you strive to be the best at the things you take on? why?

Why is good the enemy of the best? Is it motivating to think so?

Where does the most pressure to be the best come from? Parents, bosses, teachers, yourself?

Are there any disadvantages to being the best?

Want more proverb ideas to incorporate in your lessons? Then sign up for the newsletter by clicking the ‘Newsletter’ button at the top of this page. Or check out the proverb series videos for more.

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