W. Richard Stevens, Buckminster Fuller, and my other professional role models were embodiments of the saying “if a thing is worth doing, it’s worth doing well”. A person doesn’t write three volumes about a network protocol or design a new world map unless he believes that these things are worthwhile.
This attitude is closely bound to a strong intrinsic sense of what “doing well” means – a personal standard. No one asked Buckminster Fuller to spend years creating the Dymaxion Map. Who would demand that much, except himself?
Most people don’t have that attitude. They put in the minimal effort to accomplish the task and get the reward. Their standards rise and fall with their circumstances. They cut corners, do things at the last minute, focus on the superficial, make it up as they go along. They are secretly proud of the fact that they got away with it one more time.
I see that and I think that what they’re getting away with is cheating themselves of their own potential. Why are they holding back?
Of course there are often situations where you simply have to do things and your heart is not in them. What distinguishes a professional from a dilettante is a commitment to doing a job well, even if you don’t fully believe in it. You don’t make excuses to yourself or other people as to why you didn’t try your best.
When the time comes to do something you’re passionate about, you will have the mindset to do justice to it. You weren’t waiting for the perfect opportunity to show what you’re made of. You were showing it every day.