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Home > Blog > The Philosophy of Stretched-Too-Thin
Out of Our Minds
Monday, April 25, 2005 9:56 PM
The Philosophy of Stretched-Too-Thin
Kevin Salwen on Health & Wellness

Not to open up a can of existentialism on you, but I've been thinking lately about this dilemma: Is it worse to have everyone think you're mediocre or to have just some people think you stink?

Some context: Like many new ventures, we here at Worthwhile have too few people and too few resources. So, like my colleagues, I often find myself working superlong hours at a 'two people on hold, gotta get back to that guy' mode. On top of that, it's Spring, and I've signed up to manage a baseball team, help with my daughter's softball team, pitch in with Habitat houses, etc. I know, I know it was stupid to sign up for all those things when I knew we were still in hot-and-heavy startup mode for Worthwhile, but I can give you a great reason for each one (i.e, because of my kids' ages, it's the last season I can coach them; I'm on the Habitat board, so I have responsibilities, etc).

I know you know the pace. We all feel it sometimes. And I know you know this feeling: I don't think I'm doing any part of it to an A+ level. Many days, I wonder if I'm doing any of it to a C+ level. I don't get to chit-chat with friends on the phone; I rarely connect with family; I don't buy tickets for things I've promised to be in charge of.

I know this will pass. It always does. But tonight, I got to the existential musing: If you only have X amount of time, is it better to perform at an average or below-average level across the board or be real good at a few things while sucking at the rest (which, by the way, has the parallel discomfort of inevitably having some people ticked off at you)? Which would you choose?


6 comments

Jeffrey - 4/27/2005 5:24:01 AM
Do you really need to be asking this question? If so, read your own magazine. It might give you the answer.
mark - 4/26/2005 8:11:52 PM
Kevin,
Such is the life of the the recovering straight A entrepreneur. Life is Pass/Fail. I belive it is better to get most things done at a 'C' level and then choose the things that you really need to do at an 'A' level. You really can't do it all. So why are you still trying?
Mark
Jeremy - 4/26/2005 2:47:00 PM
There's a good conversation on this topic going on over at The Alchemy of Soulful Work, which includes some links to other good posts as well:

http://imaginactive.typepad.com/alchemyofsoulfulwork/2005/04/a_person_divide.html
John not the first one - 4/26/2005 10:15:44 AM
If you want someting done give it to a busy man.
A banker in the pre-women in the workplace era - said that to me - it is true regardless of sex. Which I am not sure you have time for either.
martin - 4/26/2005 10:14:18 AM
I've always laughed at the old southern adage that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Well, if that is true then I've got an 12 lane super highway with rest stops and a new HOV lane in place. I too commit to a lot. I've slowly learned to try and do what is right for those immediately around me, my family, my business partner and my friend(s).

I take 'X amount of time' and do in it what I can without trying to fool myself and those around me. I've also gotten better at not worrying about 'the others'. There always have been and will likely continue to be the people ready to disparage whatever it is I've just done.

I'm not sure if that has made me better at any one thing, but it has helped me avoid existential conundrums. And surprisingly, my clients and those I do business with seem happier with me as well.
John - 4/26/2005 1:51:23 AM
I'd pick a few to be good at and the heck with the rest. Making a decision means giving something up.

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