We usually want to do our best and put our best foot forward. We want to be seen as someone who is great at what we do and a real winner. But then there are times where we don’t want to do something and our effort really shows it. Perhaps we were asked to do something that we really don’t want to do, so we get it done as quickly as we can so we can get on to the things we want to do. Maybe this is where less than our best is good enough. During these times, I can’t help but think of Half-Assed vs. Half-Right.
When I was growing up, I was taught that I had to do my best, and to never do a “half-assed” job. I often heard many of my elders say things like,
“Any job worth doing is worth doing right.”
“Everything you do has your name on it.”
“Don’t do a half-assed job.”
That last quote has really stuck with me through my years. Whenever I go to do anything, I want to do my best because I don’t want to be a “half-assed” kind of guy. Doing something half-assed is doing less than our best because we don’t see the value in doing what we are doing. You know, the type of effort that says, “I don’t really care about this, so I am going to do the bare minimum just to get it done.” This is the effort you want to avoid. On the flip side of this type of effort is an intentional, thought out effort. And that approach is Half-Right.
During times where resources are limited, or your list of tasks is really long, another approach may be necessary. And that approach is in seeing the value of getting things half-right. Half-right says that sometimes we can say, “This is good enough.” We can concede that what we are doing does not have to be perfect and that it doesn’t really matter. In the grand scheme of things, doing this task half-right is all that really matters. Perhaps it is that this task is not as important or doing that little extra effort on one task is less important than getting started on others. And that does happen. You will face times where the little extra effort will not be important and will not matter. It is up to you do decide where being half-right is good enough.
Half-Assed vs Half-Right is really about intention and vision. How important is what you are doing right now? Did you do a crappy job because you don’t see the value in what you are doing or because you are just trying to get to something you really want to do? Or, did you do the job half-right because in the grand scheme of things, doing this one little task to perfection is not worth the effort that it will take from something that is more important.
It’s okay to do a job half-right, but it is not okay to do a job half-assed. Make sure to do your best on the things that really matter, and for others, do them half-right. Half-right is about intending to complete a task to a point where is it good enough to be considered done, but not overly-done in that it slows up progress on other tasks. The simple thing to remember is that it is okay to do things half-right but NEVER do them half-assed.
This post was inspired by a book titled 18 minutes by Peter Bregman. It is a great book about being intentional about your day with 18 minutes of planning. If you are interested in reading this book, you can pick it up via my affiliate link here: