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Can we talk about the "f" word?

Which one you ask?

  • The sacred "f bomb" which can be used as a noun, verb, adjective, etc. to add emphasis to anything?

  • Or perhaps the big F-E-A-R that we try to avoid at all costs?

  • Or go the opposite direction with focus (bonus * for this one), which has gone out the window in 2020.

I'm talking about a different four letter F word today: fine. Ask my husband and he will tell you I banned that word from our vocabulary long ago. Fine never actually means fine (which is defined as "of high quality"). Take a look at a few examples:

  • "How was your day?" "Fine."

  • "How do I look?" "Fine."

  • "How about sushi for dinner?" "Fine."

  • "Do you like your job?" "It's fine."

  • "What did you think of my presentation?" "It was fine."

Let's be clear: it's never just fine.

"'Fine' is the ultimate indicator of apathy and discontent. 'Fine' means a standard is barely being met. 'Fine' means there’s the potential for something to be better. 'Fine' means there’s more to learn and dig into." Claire Lew, CEO of Know Your Team

When you hear "fine" - let it be a warning signal, especially when it is your own answer. Get curious and dig into why that's your answer. If your situation is simply "fine", what would it take to make it "good" or even "great"?

If it is truly "just fine" and there's no opportunity for improvement, dare to ask yourself "why are you tolerating just fine?"

What are you avoiding that allows "fine" to be an acceptable answer? If your job is "just fine" or your relationship with your boss is "just fine", or the feedback was that your work is "just fine" - what are you not willing to risk in order to go for great?

That other four letter "f" word comes to mind here: fear. Fear of stirring the proverbial pot? Fear of disappointing someone by speaking up? Fear of repercussions for speaking out about the sub-par situation? Fear of what the feedback might be if you ask for it?

What if, just hear me out, what if stirring the pot results in an improved relationship? What if the feedback allows you to become a better leader? What if speaking up results in positive change for you and others in the same predicament?

Let's all agree: when "fine" comes up, don't succumb to fear; find the f'ing courage to focus on finding a better answer. How's that for using all my F words in one sentence?


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