Is ‘If a jobs worth doing, it’s worth doing well’ a complete rubbish phrase?

I think I’ve subscribed to that phrase, that’s why I bring it up. But at this point in my life I reconsider it.

For example, if you were doing a task that earns you $5, but to do it ‘well’ costs $10, then it’s clearly not worth doing well, is it?

What does it cost to do it ‘well’, however ‘well’ is defined (and indeed, who defined it?)? What do you actually get out of the task?

If doing it ‘well’ costs more than what you’d get out of the task, that’s not doing it ‘well’, that’s just screwing up.

Yeah, I somehow subscribed to complete rubbish.

I’m almost thinking it was made for a caste of labourers/lower downs, because while it wouldn’t profit them at all, it’d work for whoever they laboured for.

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5 Comments

  1. jatori said,

    16 March, 2009 at 7:11 pm

    For the most part, I agree with you (Pareto Principal fan), but what about ‘jobs’ that aren’t about making a profit?

  2. Callan said,

    16 March, 2009 at 10:56 pm

    Well, all tasks (I’m not just talking about working under a boss) are about profit, even if it’s just to see someone smile.

    It’s the non fiscal tasks which are harder to see the cost/profit ratio, thus allowing a nonsense phrase like ‘if I jobs worth doing, it’s worth doing well’ to continue even when it’s not worth doing well. It’s hard to judge the worth of a smile, for example (and to be clear, I mean for just one person – it would obviously vary between people. But even when they decide for themselves – well, I would say its hard to judge the value of a smile, for other people. Maybe some would disagree. And say this bracket is too big…!).

  3. Guy Shalev said,

    17 March, 2009 at 12:33 am

    You’re falling prey to a false dichotomy Callan.

    If you say something, and then someone presents an opposing case, it does not necessarily mean you have to completely abandon the original statement. You can refine it, you can put limits and boundaries on it. Same as “Yes, but…”

    The statement is not “Complete rubbish”, it just doesn’t apply in specific cases. Is it a good sentiment to have in mind? Yes.

    Also, the job is about effort, not necessarily resources. It also talks from the view-point, as Jatori alludes to, that you need to do. If you’re going to fix your house, which you plan to live in for the rest of your life, it may be cheaper, even over the whole life-time to do a patch-up every 6 months, but it’ll detract from your quality of life, say, or your pleasure in your house.

    And, it’s a sentiment to keep in mind, so that even if you go against it, you do so mindfully, purposefully, and not out of lack of care for the quality of the job you do.

  4. Callan said,

    18 March, 2009 at 12:21 am

    Why refine it? Why put limits and boundaries on it? Why put effort into salvaging this phrase? It’s not like were restoring grandma’s old, dilapidated rocking chair. That has sentimental value. These words don’t have sentimental value, do they?

    I’d say “Run across the road with your eyes closed” is a rubbish statement, though sometimes you’d make it, so it just doesn’t apply in specific cases (where you get hit by a car). Does that make it a good sentiment to have in mind, though?

    In terms of the house, I don’t get what you mean. Your evaluating various methods, rather than stating one is ‘doing it well’ and thus is the one you have to do. Your deciding on the way you want to do it – the phrase isn’t “If a jobs worth doing, do it the way you want to do it” (though on reflection that’s quite a nice saying). Or I’m not getting your example.

  5. Guy Shalev said,

    18 March, 2009 at 12:45 pm

    My point is simply to avoid throwing out the baby with the bathwater, or put another way, I reject in some cases the statement “This is rubbish” when a statement/theory is correct 90% of the time.

    If it’s right 90% of the time, then it’s obviously not absolute, but unless you find a theory that is better than that, then it serves its use. Saying “it’s rubbish” means that it is of no value, that it’s complete and utter crap.

    Refinement is here to keep that 90%, and point out with warning signs the 10% where it doesn’t apply.

    People are too fond of finding one negative example and throwing away an explanation that is otherwise correct.


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