SELCO: Good Enough Is More Likely Than Perfect When the SHTF

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Author of The Dark Secrets of Survival and the online course SHTF Survival Boot Camp

No matter what the prepping industry and preppersphere likes to say, you usually will never have a perfect plan, perfect settings, or perfect gear that will work everywhere and every time.

And no, you are not perfect, you are just human being.

It is not only connected to prepping and survival, this, you should be best, first, “perfect” or whatever is part of normal modern consumerism world.

The thing is that in survival, your “I am perfect”or “My preps should be perfect” may lead you to mistakes and eventually to bad things.

Good enough

For all of us who are normal average folks, there is something that we will be forced to implement sooner or later when SHTF and it is thought (or principle) that we called “good enough” here in the Balkans.

At this moment, you need to understand that “good enough” works only if you put it in context.

It works differently in different contexts.

Here is one example: is rainwater that you collected from the rooftop safe for drinking?

In the context of normal everyday life (not SHTF) where you want to collect water from roof for drinking, it is not safe for drinking.

Why?

Well, roofs may be dirty, air may be polluted (so the rain is polluted, too), gutters may contain dirt… and you have normal “pure” water available from other sources (tap water, bottled water from the store, etc.)

So, why would you risk your own health by drinking rainwater? Even after you invested work in filtering and boiling it, it is still not completely safe, and you still have normal access to clean water from normal sources.

So, in this context it is not safe, do not bother.

Now, if you put this question of “is rainwater collected from roof safe to drink” in time of SHTF, when normal services are not working, there is no running water, no electricity, no normal life… you have a completely different context.

You have a situation now where you do not have drinking water, and possibly it is dangerous to go and look for safer sources of water, so basically, you are in a moment where you going to choose whether you are going to drink rainwater or you are going to suffer without water, which will lower your other capabilities that you are going to need hard in time of SHTF, and eventually, you will die without it.

Well, you are going to drink it because, in this context, it is good enough.

Of course, you will do whatever you want to make it cleaner, boiling, filtering etc, but it is not going to be 100 percent safe – it will be good enough because you need it very much.

You are still going to be faced with the danger of drinking some amounts of chemicals from pollution or roof type or whatever, BUT in this context, it is about you choosing between having some bad impact on your kidney or liver that might show up years later or you dying without water (or being not ready to defend yourself or to collect other resources because you are desperately thirsty).

Another example would be sleeping in partially destroyed building where there is probably asbestos dust from destroyed roofs and other material. If you are choosing between standing in the rain and hiding in that partially destroyed building with asbestos dust, common sense says you will stay in the rain.

On the other side, if we change the context and you are choosing between that asbestos dust and being rounded up in the street and shot in the middle of a civil war or some similar SHTF, you would run to an asbestos dust building and spend the night there because it is good enough.

This good enough is something that you will meet very often when SHTF, and it is very important to recognize it in time-fast, so it may save your life.

Sometimes, from two bad things, you will have to choose a thing that is less bad.

We are conditioned to recognize bad things, especially if we live in functional societies. We have learned to see things that are not safe.
It is good to spot those things, but when SHTF, almost all things become unsafe, and usually, you will have to choose things that are good enough, but at the same time, they will still be unsafe.

Two ends of this

There is something else that needs to be mentioned here: there are two opposite ends to this. One is “Nah, whatever, “and the other is “It needs to be perfect.”

Both are kind of wrong. Based on this being good enough, you might think of it as I said: Everything will work and everything will be good enough. That is not true. This end is shrugging your shoulders and not taking any precautions at all or trying to make things the best that you can in the situation.

It is not like that: good enough means that you recognize what will work and what will save you in a given context, what will work and save you in that moment when danger is immediately – and use it that is good enough.

The other end is that you need to be 100 percent sure that something is working before you use it (do it); in other words, it needs to be perfect. It will never be perfect when SHTF. It cannot be. Plans will fail, equipment will not work, people will fail…you will work with what you have with what is good enough.

The point is that you will need to be somewhere between these two ends, but of course, always aim to be the best.

If we use both the above examples (rainwater and asbestos dust building), common sense says you will aim for the best your filtrate and clean that water in whatever way you possibly have and can. You will aim for best.

But if you need it badly, boiling and filtering it through clothes will be good enough if you do not have any other additional way of filtering and cleaning it.

If you need fast and badly to take shelter in that asbestos roof building, you’ll do it, but still, you might wear some kind of mask or pull your t-shirt up over your face, or you’ll choose a place with less destruction in the building. You’ll take care that something not fall on your head… you’ll do as best as possible.

Good enough is good enough.

So, this good enough is not you being negligent, and it is not you shivering in fear because nothing is completely safe.

It is you doing things, completing task with choosing less risks, less bad stuff. It is you surviving by being smart.

What are your thoughts on “good enough?” Can you think of any other examples where this might apply? Do you have any reasons why you don’t agree with this philosophy?

Let’s discuss it in the comments section.

About Selco:

Selco survived the Balkan war of the 90s in a city under siege, without electricity, running water, or food distribution. 

In his online works, he gives an inside view of the reality of survival under the harshest conditions. He reviews what works and what doesn’t, tells you the hard lessons he learned, and shares how he prepares today.

He never stopped learning about survival and preparedness since the war. Regardless of what happens, chances are you will never experience extreme situations as Selco did. But you have the chance to learn from him and how he faced death for months.

Real survival is not romantic or idealistic. It is brutal, hard, and unfair. Let Selco take you into that world.

Picture of Selco

Selco

Selco survived the Balkan war of the 90s in a city under siege, without electricity, running water, or food distribution. In his online works, he gives an inside view of the reality of survival under the harshest conditions. He reviews what works and what doesn’t, tells you the hard lessons he learned, and shares how he prepares today. He never stopped learning about survival and preparedness since the war. Regardless what happens, chances are you will never experience extreme situations as Selco did. But you have the chance to learn from him and how he faced death for months. Read more of Selco's articles here. Buy his PDF books here. Take advantage of a deep and profound insight into his knowledge by signing up for his unrivaled online course. Real survival is not romantic or idealistic. It is brutal, hard and unfair. Let Selco take you into that world.

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  • I lived off of ramen noodles and scavenged food for a month. It wasn’t ideal but it was good enough for that time. I learned from that experience and if I had to do it again, I could. You work with what you have at the time, sometimes. Good article.

  • Perfect is the enemy of progress. If you always wait for perfect you will never progress, because it is extremely rare that circumstances will align for a perfect situation. The prepper community is full of people looking for the perfect knife, the perfect BOB, the perfect BOL, etc. etc. Nothing in life is perfect. Everything is a compromise to some degree or another. In many ways it’s kind of like that old drinking and driving commercial, “Know when to say when!”

  • People that need perfection in preps or survival situations have zero real life experience and ,I think, they believe their ability to purchase stuff (material property or real estate) Gives them the edge.

    To the unskilled prepper, perfection and the accumulation of stuff is that person’s “good enough”

  • Well, when it comes to SHTF, I think perfection is surviving till the next day.
    Might be dirty, sweaty, smelly, might not have a quite full stomach, might be cold and wet, but I survived.

    I tend to think if I can get to at least 80%, that is good enough. Would it be worth the extra time and energy to get past that? Depends on the situation. I think pursuing that 100% at some point gets to diminishing returns on energy or resources invested.

  • Excellent article!
    You’ve gotta prioritize your needs. My dad grew up in the rural Ozarks during the depression. He taught me about “good enough” while I was a kid. Every decision will likely not be perfect, but will it be good enough when placed in context? These kind of decisions don’t (and won’t!) come easy, but people make them every day – and you can too.

  • As always, good points in your article. What needs to be said, again and again, is that the most important prep takes place in your mind. If you are mentally prepared for challenges, then you will succeed. Easier said than done but essential none the less.

  • It is said that perfection is the enemy of good enough. I have come to the conclusion that I have prepared about as far as my present circumstances allow. Perfection is out of reach. So rather than waste time and effort for perfection, I can do more for good enough. I might be down to a diet of rice and beans before it’s all over.

  • In today’s world “good enough” is understood. And when the SHTF “good enough” will shift lower still. BUT while there is still time it is worth the effort to pay attention to detail and keep pushing forward so there is less chance of lowering one’s circumstance to lower then acceptable. I work with my attitude everyday to maintain goals. Semper FI. M

  • The key here is to have as much knowledge and as many skills as possible. It’s all about using your imagination to do the best you can when the situation requires it. It’s the way it has always been.

    This is why I recommend people just starting to prep to collect water in gallon milk jugs, buy a month or two of rice, beans, sugar, flour, etc, have a workable medical bag, and begin learning the skills. Once you have one month covered, upgrade for a second month’s worth of food, get bottled water, and so on. The point is to cover as much ground as possible as quickly as possible.

    • Good sensible advice.

      It can be very intimidating for a new prepper/preparer to watch the videos and read online blogs about what to buy. Whole house generators! Freeze dry food! Expensive solar equipment! Huge water tanks! If you don’t have “XYZ” you have a death wish.

  • As a perfectionist, I have come to learn how to live when things don’t go exactly as they should (like my trial run of the engraving I posted on my FB, LOL). However, considering that I was looking to kill two birds with a shot, the learning was incredibly valuable. This is because the mistakes made were much more important to collect real world data. The piece is not perfect, but then, it can be corrected enough to keep it as a sample.
    I have been on a (mostly) beans and rice diet for a few weeks these days, to make supplies to last for longer; some cheese on top, and that’s good enough to make it through. In the meanwhile, whatever I can have on my table should be good enough. Except for armadillos. They eat venomous snakes down here and many people has died for eating them.

  • There comes a time on every project to shoot the engineer and begin production. That time is when things are “good enough”.

  • As an experiment I have collected rainwater in rain barrels and filtered it with my Berkey and drank it exclusively for almost two years.

    This was initially just a test to make sure I didn’t get sick and could trust it for my family if SHTF. As time went on I realized it was just fine.

    I also think the chemicals added in into tap water and the impurities collected from decrepit infrastructure is 10x worse than anything in the water from the 10 seconds it spends running down my roof.

    Also, no fluoride.

    Think what you want, my experiment proves for long periods of time filtered rain water is just fine. Honestly, you can thank me, because now you know you could do the same if you needed to with no problems.

  • Doing what’s good enough is often forced on us, but we will never escape the fact that life’s a bitch and then you die.

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