Doing Two Things Badly

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Like many people, I’ve spent a fair bit of time over the last two weeks watching some of the best tennis players in the world fighting it out for the Wimbledon Championship. Yesterday’s match between Djokovic and Federer was a superb example of two incredible athletes displaying their skill and experience at the highest level. I cannot begin to imagine how it must feel to be No 1 or 2 in the world (the world!) at your chosen occupation. I can only guess how much dedication is required to achieve such a position, how many sacrifices have to be made, how demoralising it must be after countless hours of preparation to face injury or defeat. I am in awe of such talented, focused and hard-working people.

I also know I am not like them. And I am only partially envious. I often wish I was passionate about just one thing. I wish I could focus all my energies wholly on one specific area – spend all my waking hours learning, improving, honing my skills… But, (like the vast majority of the population, I suspect) I have divided loyalties. I have two huge passions in my life – one is writing, the other is all things equine. I’ve achieved moderate success in both areas, but I’m sure that if I committed myself to one or the other, I’d achieve much more. To some extent they complement one other, so for example in the long dark hours of winter when there’s little opportunity to ride, I get much more writing done, whilst in the summer it’s the horses which tend to get top priority. And the physical nature of horse riding and care makes for a complete contrast to the task of writing, so each provides a break from the other.  But recently, I’ve had stories short-listed in three different writing competitions and I can’t help wondering, if I was wholly focused, could I land the top spot?

Someone once said, “it is better to do one thing well than two things badly” and I’m sure there is much wisdom in this. On the other hand, you have to know yourself, and your nature. I am definitely more of a two-things-badly person, and I fully accept I’m never going to be World Number 1 (or even 100,000!) in either of my chosen fields. But that’s ok. I love my writing, and I love my horses, and I can’t imagine life without either. So I’ll keep doing a bit of both, and if I get some more stories published, or win a few more rosettes on the way, well, hey, that’s a bonus.

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