A Thing Worth Doing…
We have all heard that a thing worth doing is worth doing well. The saying is meant, of course, to inspire people to do their very best to achieve quality work. GK Chesterton, author of the Father Brown mysteries early in the last century, pointed out that a thing worth doing was worth doing badly.
I agree with him. A thing worth doing is worth doing. How well we do it is a different question. A church pastor, for example, may be a poor speaker, lousy counselor, and impatient with those who struggle, but what he’s doing seems worth doing. At the other extreme, the undetected serial killer is doing what he does very well, since he is undetected, but we can all agree it is not worth doing.
One problem with the saying we have all heard is the tendency to not start doing things worth doing. Hesitancy may be because we can’t “see” the end result, or we may not have the expertise to do it perfectly, or we lack some sort of resources, or a myriad of other reasons. The good works don’t get started because we don’t think we can do good work.
Another tendency is to determine that something is worth doing when it really isn’t. One may choose a profession, for example, simply because one has the skills that seem appropriate. But that might not lead to a passion for the job (or the various terms like “self-actualization”). The results are usually neither good works nor good work. Or, we do really well at something not worth doing.
When faced with a decision to do or not do something, we might be better off to ask if the task is worth doing badly.