You Can Only Be Good At So Many Things At A Time

I’ve been watching a lot of America Ninja Warrior lately because summer. And I was about to say there are just two kinds of stories on this show—redemption and come-uppance—but that’s not totally true. It’s actually a much more interesting show than people give it credit for.

But, still. There are themes. And one of those is that people are constantly giving up everything to become good at ANW, to finally conquer Mt. Whatever-Its-Called (seriously, they need to do a better job explaining the ins and outs for those of us who aren’t, like, nerding out over every new ANW obstacle). On the show a few weeks ago there was a guy who had quit his job and worked as an usher at a movie theater now just to make ends meet while he trained full-time for ANW, because you can only be good at so many things at a time. If he wanted to be good at this, and whether or not you value the “this” that he wanted to be good at is irrelevant, then he couldn’t just do it as a hobby.

Whether the movie theater ushers (or running bums or aspiring triathletes) are viewed with benevolence or a sense of ‘it’s time to grow up’ seems largely to depend on if they’re successful. If you put aside a career and work odd jobs to pay bills and live with your parents, all in order to make the Olympic team and you make it, then it was all worth it. Sort of. But if you come in 4th at the trials or whatever the cut-off is, then you’re just a guy living with his parents.

People keep asking me what I’m doing now. And I don’t know what to say. They want me to have gotten a super exciting job at a super exciting publication that they’ve heard of, and to be training for Ironman, and working on ambitious side projects, and presumably not sleeping. But, with the exception of one job I applied for and did not get in the spring (even though I would have been totally awesome at it, whatever), I’m not really looking for that lifestyle. I’m working and I’m training and you can only be good at so many things at a time.

Steve has appointed himself as my “elite athlete consultant” and his self-described job is basically to tell me that no, I shouldn’t take that extra gig or project or go to that extra event or worry about that extra thing. If you want to be good at some things, then you can only do so many things.

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