Let me tell you a “not-so-secret secret” about me: I’m an extremist. There, I said it. I have a problem and it’s called taking things too far. I get into something, usually a sport or kind of physical activity, and take it to the limit. I become consumed with it, learn every single thing I possibly can about it, and then move on to the next thing. Honestly it’s a wonder I’ve been able to have success in some of the avenues I’ve had success in. Perhaps if I had a bit more “stick-to-it” in my giddy up I’d even be great at some stuff!

All joking aside, I think our society promotes this kind of behavior. This isn’t me blaming the way I grew up for my propensity for changing direction, but rather holding it and the people in it accountable for the syndrome we’ve all come to know and love: “The grass is always greener on the other side.”  Simply put, there’s always going to be another “Super” thing.  Last month it was kale, this month its asparagus. Who knows, maybe next month it’ll be dark chocolate covered beetles (God I hope not!).

Anyone that knows me knows that I’m a physical person. From the time I was very young, I’ve always played sports. I’ve played football, baseball, ice hockey, and lacrosse. Most recently, as I’ve become older, I’ve focused on more individual sports like running, triathlon, Brazillian Jiu Jitsu, and cycling. Of all of these, cycling has unequivocally become my number one most consistent sport over the past 10 years, but still change has occurred on those two wheels.

For me, first it was triathlon. Then it was strictly road riding. That eventually morphed into mountain biking. And then, as per my usual mode of operation, mountain biking developed into more extreme connotations. I went from racing cross country mountain biking (which is by all means the least extreme version of the sport), to racing in downhill and enduro competitions (which lend themselves to more jumps, technical sections, and higher speeds). So even within the sport I have “stuck” with, I’ve jumped around-never satisfied.

It can be said that I generally have a two year shelf life for most things-my wife being an exception to the rule! (I love you honey!)

I feel that so far this post can be conceived as negative. After all, I did start it saying that I have a “problem”. Thinking a little on the idea of having a problem, though, you can come to the conclusion that problems are not always a bad thing to have. If I gave you the option of having a million dollars or a private jet, you might have a problem in making a decision, but either way, each resulting decision is going to allow you the freedom to do things you might want to but don’t currently have the means to do. Not a bad problem to have, right? And so with my individual “problem”, it’s result has been that I’ve been able to extend my physicality to places that I might not have had I stuck with only one sport and/or activity. I’ve been able to cultivate many different experiences and many different accomplishments, all in different ways, by having the “problem” of never being able to settle for just one thing.

The world we live in today has us believe that we need to concentrate specifically on one endeavor. It makes us believe, particularly in the world athletics, that we need to specialize in order to be the best that we can be. On one hand, I agree with that sentiment. I can guarantee you that Tiger Woods did not spend an equal amount of time playing football as he did practicing his golf swing (then again, did he ever play football???). And, I’ll be willing to bet that Michael Jordan spend a lot more time perfecting his skills for basketball than he did playing baseball (we all know how that turned out!). The other side of this coin, however, has to do with the simple reality that the vast majority of us are not, will not, and perhaps don’t even want to be the next Lebron James or J.J. Watt. For the overwhelming majority of people looking to better themselves through physical activity, the goal is to be a better version of themselves. We should seek to optimize that which we have and not that what we wish we had.

The idea of being a specialist brings with it the unfortunate reality that there will be little room left for anything else-and this not only goes for other physical endeavors, but also for social interaction, intellectual development, and, in general, a properly rounded human being. Sound mind, sound body should be an ideal that we all strive for, no matter what our physical or intellectual attributes may be. Working hard to construct a body that can move well, think well, and react in all situations is paramount. Not doing so in a day and age where we have limitless resources and technology, in my way of thinking, is to do a disservice to those who have come before us and made today’s world a possibility.

So, before I get off my soapbox, I’ll say this: Develop yourselves from every angle. Focus not on just one thing, but diversify and challenge yourself to be efficient in many different plains of not only moment, but of thought as well.  Think outside the box, in training and in life. Be not afraid to fail at a new skill, but rather embrace it with the knowledge that the empowerment you’ll receive after achieving your goal will be well worth the journey you took to get there.