Why put in effort? You put in so much hard work, but you’re not sure if anyone notices.
You might have thought this at some point. After exerting a lot of effort to make something great, to go above and beyond, if not a single person notices, then what’s the point? This doesn’t have to be pessimistic, either. It could be practical—why spend time and energy when you don’t need to?
If you like to put in effort to make things good, and to make good things, keep doing that. Because people notice.
The thing I respect most about people is when they care. Not care as in “be kind”, although that’s good too, but care as in they don’t half-ass anything. They’d rather not do something than do it with an offhanded attitude. This is not to be confused with cutting corners when a situation calls for it. Sometimes, you have to make compromises to prevent the whole thing from collapsing. Perhaps this respect I have comes from how the effort reveals the capacity to trust, knowing that if I had to trust them with something important, it would be well taken care of.
It doesn’t matter what they’re doing. It could be writing an essay, having a conversation, cleaning a kitchen, or producing cutting-edge research. The quality of the effort they put in determines how respectable the person is—not what they’re doing.
This reminds me of the advice “follow your passion is bad advice”. Those arguments often use careers as an example. They say choosing a career based on a “passion” for something is a bad idea, because working on what you’re passionate about does not imply that you’ll be satisfied or happy. In fact, it might take that passion away from you, once the work becomes drudgery. They say the cause of career satisfaction is putting in the effort to do something to a degree of almost unreasonable quality. That is, to not half-ass anything, because doing that is the cause of unsatisfaction.
I notice this in consumer goods, whether physical objects or software, and even in how a company communicates to its customers. It’s obvious when they care about what they are creating, when they care about their craft—and when it’s done offhandedly. The latter, I’ll deal with, if the thing I’m using can’t be obtained otherwise. But the experience won’t be memorable, and I won’t have that deep feeling of respect for the effort they put in. The former, I’ll take notice, and smile inside.
Recently, I’ve felt it important to express gratitude for those who put in the extra effort. The feeling of not half-assing something is great, but when someone notices it, you feel complete.
But if you don’t get thanked for putting in the effort, don’t worry—people are already noticing, no doubt. I have a long list of blogs I enjoy reading because of this quality—the quality of having been created under unrelenting care for the craft, but I’ve sent messages to only a handful. I should send one to the rest.
Lastly, even if people don’t notice that effort consciously, they do subconsciously. Someone who has eaten deliciously cooked meals for a long time is used to that, but they’ll notice when they eat something poorly cooked. It just takes a shift in environment for the subconscious to become conscious.
Whatever I do, I’m trying to take this attitude with me, because the feeling of having put in my best effort, despite that phrase being a bit cliche, feels immensely satisfying, in a way that’s hard to describe. You just have to try it for yourself.