Excellent vs. Just OK

Somebody once told me that you can do one thing excellently, or several things just OK. It stayed with me for a long time because as my lovely late grandmother used to say, “You do too much.”

Perhaps I do. And perhaps that means I can’t be an expert in any one thing.

Or maybe I can.

When I was a kid, good friends were ranked in the state as top tennis players. They played every day, guided by their own private pro, hitting the ball again and again on the tennis court behind their home.

I played tennis in a class once a week at the local tennis bubble. I also danced. I wrote for the newspaper. I dabbled. And I was happy.

But I was never a tennis star.

Today, those same friends won’t pick up a racquet if you pay them to. They are so done with the sport after so many years of being forced to do it. I, on the other hand, love tennis. I’m still no superstar, but I have a lot of fun, get a great workout and engage body and mind in strategy, focus and exhilaration.

I’m not saying they were wrong to excel at such young ages in the tennis world. Truth be told, I envied them back then, to be so good, to travel widely to tournaments, to master the sport.

It’s the same thing in my career. I never worked at the New York Times, but I have eight books out and have written thousands of articles for magazines and newspapers around the nation.

So is it enough to be happy with where you are, or should we strive to reach the top of the top?

You already know what I’m going to say. It’s enough. It is always enough. Wherever we are is where we are supposed to be. I am happy to be a pretty-good PR pro and a pretty-good writer with quite a few books and articles to my credit.

I don’t need to win awards (although I have a few) or be known by everyone. That might be nice, but it isn’t necessary.

I’ve had clients who have divided focuses, doing several things all at once, and my instinct is to encourage them into one singular focus where they can make their mark. Some people say yes, some people resist.

And I have come to learn that both responses are OK.

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