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Be a master at one thing, or be highly capable of many things, but never excel?

I was thinking more along the lines of one area or subject. Examples could be sports, education, arts, etc.

Feel free to share any ideas. Interested in hearing your thoughts and opinions.

Thank you :)


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  • Jul 16 2012: It seems right to me to suggest doing one thing well! Probably most of us know people who try to do too much and don't do anything well. Maybe this topic is very subjective in nature--depending on the person!! Maybe doing one thing includes many tasks, but management of it all well, giving one's full attention, is the one thing well done.

    What is the basis for your question? Could there be truth in saying doing one thing well results in greater benefits to society? Is it true that if a person cannot do anything well because he is too busy trying to do too much that such persons do not help people? Is such a person foolish?

    Could there be benefit in being talented at doing many things?

    Sometimes I thinketh we humans thinketh too much!

    • Jul 17 2012: The question arose from a discussion my boyfriend and I had about majors and careers. He believes that it is important to stick to one thing or major so that you can put your all into that area or else, just like you said, one may try to do too much and not do anything well. Whereas I found that to be questionable because if you chose something for the sake of choosing, you may end up putting your all into one thing and miss opportunities that could have better suited you. It's all circumstantial of course, which is why I find this to be a difficult question to answer!
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      Jul 17 2012: Mark and Daniella,
      I love that Mark..."sometimes I thinketh we humans thinketh too much!"......so true!!!

      I agree Mark that this topic is very subjective and depends on the person. You help cleaify your question with your comment above Daniella.

      I think/feel one thing that is helpful is how we define "excel" and "master" as individuals. I don't feel that I am a "master" of anything, and I DO feel that I have excelled at many things in the life experience.

      I agree with your boyfriend Daniella, in that it is important to put energy wholeheartedly into our experiences. That being said, we have a lifetime to pursue a number of various activities, careers, and experiences.

      For me, there have been priorities throughout my life. One thing or another takes center stage. When I first had babies, being a mother was a priority. I owned and managed businesses from my home and played sports, but the kids were the focus, and my life revolved around the family.

      As they grew older, I pursued a career that took me further from the home. I was obviously still a mother, and very much engaged in that, and as the kids grew, they didn't need my physical presence as much, so I had time to pursue other things.

      At the same time, my interest in sports was increasing, and I got to the point of participating in a couple different sports competitively.

      Over the years, my interests have changed, time committments changed, careers have changed, physical abilities changed, and I've had a very full life (in my perception) excelling in several activities and master of none. I believe that what we focus on at any given time is the important piece of the puzzle. I have followed my heart, and used the logical mind to determine how to achieve certain goals. Never, have I chosen something "simply for the sake of choosing". Once something is chosen, however, it has my priority for a certain amount of time, and there is no looking back for missed opportunities.
      • Jul 18 2012: Colleen you seem like a very well-rounded person and I enjoyed your response.

        I do agree with my boyfriend as well, however I feel that there are people, students in particular, who are pressured into finding their niche or major right away. This is where I derived choosing something for the sake of choosing.

        I suppose, though, that this situation could be comparable to marriage. You chose a person you are passionate about and try to work things out for better for worse, for richer, for poorer, etc.

        Maybe it is a matter of knowing when to keep putting your energy into something because you know it can work out, or realizing that it's not going to work the way you had imagined and move on. I know he also believes in marriage to be something eternal and if it doesn't work out, you never give up. There is always the possibility your partner may need a few years to get out of some phase or funk they are in. This is why I'd like to compare the two because I find myself in agreement with him more and more, yet at the same time I can understand, for example, why divorces exist.

        "I believe that what we focus on at any given time is the important piece of the puzzle." I love this and I agree with you 100%!
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          Jul 19 2012: Hi Daniella:>)
          Thank's for your kind words. I do indeed feel "rounded" and "grounded" as I navigate the life adventure:>)

          I agree that unfortunately, there are people who are pressured to take certain paths. It's important for all of us not to feel pressured in ourselves, or contribute to the feelings of pressure by others. We are all on different life paths, and part of the enjoyment for me in the life adventure, is recognizing that we ARE ALL DIFFERENT, with different thoughts, feelings, ideas, beliefs and opinions.

          My daughter and I used to have this conversation when she was a teen. She was interested and participated in almost everything....intellectual pursuits, music, drama, art, sports, etc. She had 3 very special friends in high school...one was an accomplished musician (not interested in sports at all...prefered to spend time playing/studying music), one an accomplished writer/scholar (passionate about writing and studying the writings of others...no sports or music) and one an accomplished athlete (all she wanted to do was play sports...not interested in music or intellectual pursuits). My daughter was close to the top of her class (the intellectual friend was at THE top) played several sports, played 3 instruments, was involved in drama, chorus, various other interests, and had a job.

          Sometimes, she expressed the feeling that she was "speading herself too thin", and perhaps she "should" focus on one or two things. I always told her to follow her heart...pursue whatever she felt like pursuing....be focused with what you are doing in the moment, and don't do more than you think/feel you are comfortable with.

          All 4 of these girls (now in their 40s) are accomplished young women... still very good friends. One important thing they have in common, is that they all followed their heart...pursued what they were passionate about...continue to live life with integrity, curiosity and love....that's what it's all about...in my humble perception:>)

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