There Is No Shame In A DNF, Just Spin The Right Number Of Plates For Your Psyche, But Don’t Let Anyone Down

Hi folks, welcome!

spinning-platesAs I finished a race recently, I heard the announcer mention that another competitor, just ahead of me, had never had a DNF (did not finish), as if this was a success story. This I found to be odd, as sometimes, if you push yourself, you are bound to drop out to avoid risk of injury, as a training decision, or just to protect your health. Then again, it depends on how your brain works, I guess, which reminds me of a conversation I had with a friend.

Winning The Games Scientists PlayI considered my friend, another senior scientist in the same institute, to have a similarly successful career to my own, but he took a completely different approach to mine. He always finished what he started. When it came to his attention that this was not the case for me, he challenged me on the efficacy of my research philosophy, which was in part based on an interesting book, “Winning The Games Scientists Play”. I’d had a good year that year, with plenty of research results, publications, and presentations, and as I recall, our discussion went like this:

Friend: “Kevin, why don’t you finish all of your projects?

FitOldDog: “Sometimes I lose interest in a project as my ideas have changed, or I now consider the work to be down a blind alley, and if it has no affect on other staff and I can get away with it, I just drop it and move on.

Friend: “But you should finish what you start. It’s more effective.

FitOldDog: “You’re saying that if you start and finish three projects in a year, and I start ten similarly valuable projects, but only finish five, then you did a better job than me?

Harry Potter and Dumbledore

“It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.”

Friend: “Yes! Clearly I did! You left five projects unfinished, whereas I finished all of mine.

FitOldDog: “But I finished five projects to your three, making my system much more productive.

Friend: “Yes, but I finished everything I started, while you left lots of projects uncompleted.

And so the debate went on with no resolution.

We just have very different approaches to life, which can be a good thing in a friend – they can get you to think and maybe change your mind for the better. In this case, his approach is not my approach. I’ll stick to spinning lots of plates, letting a few crash to the ground, whilst keeping plenty more in the air.

In my opinion, what is important is that which you do get done, not that which you don’t get done, as long as there are no negative consequences for others.

-k @FitOldDog


Speak Your Mind


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Disclaimer: As a veterinarian, I do not provide medical advice for human animals. If you undertake or modify an exercise program, consult your medical advisors before doing so. Undertaking activities pursued by the author does not mean that he endorses your undertaking such activities, which is clearly your decision and responsibility. Be careful and sensible, please.