Spent Saturday at the King County Acquatic Center in Federal Way (the “KCAC” if you’re cool) watching the State YMCA Championship swim meet with over four hundred competitors. Fourteen’s swimming career began last August at the start of high school. She decided to swim because she recognized she wasn’t lighting the soccer world on fire, her parents encouraged it, her older sissy was a co-captain, and she thought it would be a good way to make friends.

The season exceeded her expectations in part because she improved a lot, a result of swimming five times a week and improving her technique. Dropping time is fun. Now though she’s an intermediate swimmer and dropping time is considerably harder. And swimming isn’t as fun. Saturday she swam more slowly than she had hoped. There had to be an explanation she thought. “Was the pool meters?”

The great thing about competitive swimming is there’s an almost perfect correlation between one’s training, pre-race prep, and race day performance. Fourteen misinterpreted her results on Saturday. Her conclusion, “I didn’t race very well. Just didn’t have a good day. Maybe I’m not as good as I thought.” The truth of the matter is she hasn’t been training consistently and intensely enough to swim any faster. It doesn’t matter if you have the perfect track on on your iPod pre-race and are completely amped, race day is simply a barometer of the quality of your training. The question is have you put in the time, have you done the work?

Aren’t we all like Fourteen? We often want to see improvement in some aspect of our lives without investing much time and energy in whatever it is? For example, recently I’ve read some extremely successful blogs that generate one hundred plus comments per post. When I do this I don’t think about how much time those bloggers spend on their blogs, I just say to myself, self, “You should have a blog like that.”

One’s blog readership and juice is almost exclusively a barometer of time and energy invested. The blogosphere is a meritocracy.

So the question for Fourteen, me, and maybe you, is how badly do we want to swim fast, have a widely read blog, get out of debt, lose weight, make a relationship work? Fourteen has other priorities like school and I have a day job. She swims and I blog “on the side” or maybe the “side of the side”. Maybe you try to reduce spending, save money, eat more healthily, exercise more consistently, and spend quality time with your partner “on the side”.

The challenge is being honest with ourselves about what’s most important. In the meantime, we shouldn’t be surprised by the meager results of our sporadic, abbreviated labors.

4 thoughts on “Shortcut-mania

  1. Nice thoughtful post Ron. I would like to emphasize that just as it is important to be aware that our success is proportional to the amount of time and energy we put into things, is making peace with the fact that it may be just fine if you are a mediocre swimmer, a size 12, a modest scholar and fit enough to get up the hill to upper campus. Says she who is the queen of too many endeavors!

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