We see the singer on stage take the easy note.
We see the co-worker down the hall do the bare minimum.
We see the screenwriter resort to formulas.
Phoning it in is an assumption. It’s an assumption that what you’re doing is good enough, the basics are covered, and there’s no need to do anything extra.
But that’s not the complete picture; phoning it in works the other way too. It is a form of learned helplessness. Phoning it in is another way of telling the world, “No matter what I do, nothing will change.”
Why should the singer take the leap to the next note if it won’t move the audience?
Why should the coworker do anything extra if it doesn’t make a difference?
Why should the screenwriter take the audience down unpredictable roads if nobody is going to see the movie?
But these if statements are conditional; there’s no way to prove their accuracy.
Pessimism is your best guess at predicting future events. And we’re bad at guessing.
So if given the choice, do you want to be remembered for A) doing the bare minimum, B) admitting you’re utterly helpless, or C) working towards the best case scenario at all times?
I don’t know why anyone would choose anything other than C.
But that’s just the way I see it.