The Battle Within: Good Job? Lousy Job? – Which Choice Will You Make?

The Battle Within: Good Job? Lousy Job? –  Which Choice Will You Make?

“I’m having an argument in my head,” said my grandson. “Part of me wants to do a really good job for you and the other part of me wants to do a lousy job so I don’t ever have to do this again!” As we chuckled about it, the thought that occurred to me was, if I were doing this for someone else, I would be having that very same argument in my head.

It was a perfect day to get outside and play. The sky was deep blue, the sun bright and warm, yet the air was crisp and cool. Golfing, hiking, canoeing or a nice bike ride along the river would be great choices. But no, my grandkids were helping me rake leaves & dig up the cannas that cannot withstand the winter months. There are times when a pro can become a con. All those big, beautiful cannas & green trees that we love during the spring and summer are an enormous chore in the fall. We were about half-way done when my grandson walked over to tell me about the argument in his head. I asked him which side was winning. He answered that he was not sure and guessed it would be obvious when he was finished. We laughed, and then off he went to dig up more cannas.

My grandson reminded me of a valuable lesson that transcends generations: how often do we as adults have conversations in our heads regarding what we are going to do? How much we are going to do? How well we are going to do something. On one side, we have the desire to excel and contribute positively to the team and the organization; on the other, a temptation to underperform due to unhappiness and dissatisfaction or frustration in the workplace. The valuable lesson in this scenario is that we ALWAYS have a choice in which side of the argument wins. In this blog post, we will explore the impact of the choice you make in deciding which side is going to win the argument.

My Grandson’s Dilemma: A Reflection of Workplace Reality & Choices
The story of my grandson’s internal struggle speaks to two universal truths:

    • We all have a multitude of thoughts and emotions competing for dominance within us.
    • We all have a choice in how we decide to respond.

The internal battle can be particularly evident in the workplace, where employees often experience conflicting feelings about their roles, responsibilities, and the overall work environment.

If you or someone you know, were once passionate and dedicated to your job and have become disillusioned over time due to a lack of recognition, stagnant growth opportunities, and an unsupportive work culture. At this point you have a decision to make. Which side of the argument are you going to let win? If you choose, the ‘doing a lousy job’ side of the argument here is how it unfolds:

1. Erosion of Motivation and Engagement:

As your dissatisfaction deepens, your motivation and engagement start to wane. The enthusiasm you once had for taking on challenges and delivering stellar results fades away. You start to see your tasks as burdens rather than opportunities for growth, innovation, and contribution.

2. Lowered Quality of Work:

As the ‘lousy job’ voice grows stronger, your commitment to excellence diminishes. You complete tasks with minimal effort, often opting for shortcuts or cutting corners. The quality of your work declines, affecting both your own sense of achievement and the outcomes delivered to the team.

3. Negative Ripple Effects:

Your decision to let the ‘lousy job’ side win does not just impact you – it reverberates throughout the workplace. Colleagues might be forced to pick up the slack or correct mistakes, leading to frustration and negatively impacting your relationships with peers, co-workers, bosses, clients, and customers.

4. Emotional Toll:

Just as my grandson’s internal argument weighed on his emotions, your internal conflict takes a toll on your mental well-being. The guilt and regret stemming from choosing mediocrity over excellence contribute to stress and unhappiness. This, in turn, further reinforces the cycle of underperformance and may lead to illness.

5. Stagnation and Regret:

Settling for subpar performance can lead to a sense of stagnation and regret. Internal conflict can sow the seeds of long-term dissatisfaction, causing talented employees to become disenchanted with their careers and affecting their health.

In this journey of life, we often find ourselves at crossroads, torn between two opposing voices within us. Our work is no different.

My Grandson’s Choice: A Reflection of Workplace Reality

Just as my grandson chose to do a wonderful job for me, it made him feel better about himself and he made the best of a job he “never wanted to have to do again.” You too can make a conscious choice that benefits your own personal and professional. Even though you may be feeling unhappy and unfulfilled, if you choose the ‘good job’ side of the argument here is how it unfolds:

1. Personal Empowerment and Self-Esteem:

In the face of adversity, choosing to excel empowers you to take control of your narrative. By setting ambitious standards for yourself and committing to doing an excellent job, even when faced with challenges, you reaffirm your self-worth and capabilities. This sense of accomplishment boosts self-esteem and fosters a positive self-perception that extends beyond the workplace.

2. Skill Enhancement and Learning:

Opting for the ‘good job’ mindset prompts you to continually seek improvement. Even in an unhappy environment, if you dedicate yourself to excellence, you will actively seek opportunities to acquire new skills, refine existing ones, and expand her knowledge. This commitment to growth positions you for future success, both within and outside the organization.

3. Building Resilience:

Choosing to excel despite adversity builds resilience – the ability to bounce back from setbacks. Just as my grandson’s determination to do a wonderful job was his way of overcoming his internal conflict, by persistently pursuing excellence, you will develop resilience that equips you to navigate challenges effectively.

4. Positive Work Relationships:

A commitment to doing a ‘good job’ can also foster positive relationships with colleagues and superiors. As others recognize your dedication and reliability, trust and camaraderie naturally develop. These connections provide emotional support and contribute to a more satisfying work environment, despite the initial unhappiness.

5. Future Opportunities:

As you consistently choose excellence, your efforts do not go unnoticed. Your commitment becomes a steppingstone to future opportunities, both within the current organization and beyond. Colleagues and leaders are more likely to consider you for projects, promotions, and collaborations, creating avenues for growth and advancement.

6. Sense of Purpose:

By embracing the ‘good job’ side of the argument, you can reconnect with her sense of purpose. You realize and understand that your contributions, no matter the size, contribute to the bigger picture. This renewed purpose injects meaning into your work, even in the face of challenges or dissatisfaction.

7. Inspiring Change:

The choice to excel, even amidst unhappiness, has a ripple effect on the organization. When colleagues witness you consistently delivering high-quality work, it can inspire a positive shift in the overall work culture. This, in turn, encourages others to choose excellence and work collectively toward organizational improvement.

8. Emotional Well-being:

Surprisingly, the act of choosing the ‘good job’ path can positively impact your emotional and physical well-being. Engaging in meaningful tasks and striving for excellence triggers the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with pleasure and reward. This physiological response counteracts feelings of unhappiness and promotes a more positive outlook.

Conclusion: Transforming Unhappiness into Triumph

The tale of my grandson’s internal struggle reminds us that the choice between ‘good job’ and ‘lousy job’ is not solely a matter of circumstance but an exercise in personal discipline and ethics. When you as an employee consciously opt for excellence despite your unhappiness, you will embark on a transformative journey that transcends your current situation.


In the realm of the workplace, this choice has far-reaching impacts. It will lead you to a much happier, more productive, transformative journey of personal growth and renewed purpose. It builds a foundation of self-empowerment, skill enhancement, and resilience that shapes not only your trajectory but also the organization’s success. By choosing the path of excellence, you inspire positive change, create a ripple effect of improvement, and influence the organizational culture.

The next time you find yourself torn between doing a ‘good job’ or a ‘lousy job,’ remember my grandson’s choice. In that moment, you possess the power to rewrite your narrative, empower your journey, and make a lasting impact on both your own life and the workplace around you.

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