Several years ago, my friend Elizabeth Burke and I rowed twice a week through the Seattle winter. We ventured out without fail as dawn was breaking - rowing two single shells or a double. We'd row from the Fremont Bridge to the Chittenden Locks and back, or maybe across Lake Union and on to Lake Washington. Sometimes we'd come back to our home at the Lake Washington Rowing Club and wipe the ice off our boats. But we always came back with an irrefutable sense of moral superiority! We'd done it again!

Rowing - particularly Rowing Through the Winter - provides a richness of metaphors...instructive in my life as a Family Physician and the Home Dialysis CarePartner for my profoundly ill husband, Steve Williams. Now that Steve is gone, rowing reminds me of consistency and focus - so critical during grieving. Rowing requires balance, as does my life.

Row with me this winter. Linda Gromko, MD

Friday, October 22, 2010

Perfection is the Enemy of the Good

Voltaire's quote, "Perfection is the Enemy of the Good," has come up for me a few times this week: once in talking with a teenaged patient about his schoolwork pressures, and perpetually in the Weight Management Group we run in my medical practice.

Where did we get that nagging idea that we had to be perfect anyway? Now, I understand that you must aim for perfection in open heart surgeries and in landing airplanes.

But in rowing?

I believe there is validity in doing anything well. But I also believe it's worthwhile to do some things "okay." Particularly if it's something you do for recreation or fitness.

Frank Cunningham would laugh when I told him I was on a vertical climb to mediocrity in rowing! I think he enjoyed coaching his "Friday Fillies" a number of years ago. We weren't breaking any records, but we certainly had fun.

I celebrate the opportunities to row: trying to get it "better" - if not right - with each stroke. Knowing that we are afforded continual "do-overs." We get another chance with each attempt.

Most high-achieving professional women would do well to learn to let ourselves off the hook now and then. Allow ourselves to do something just for the fun of it - just for the fitness - just for the friendships.

My current rowing group, the Novice Women's Team, had a joyful row at Head of the Troll. Of course, we convinced Evan Jacobs to row as an honorary novice(!). For some of the women, it was their first competative athletic event. How wonderful it was that nobody took it too seriously. It would have been hard to take ourselves seriously in our viking horns anyway.

I'm certainly not saying "don't try." I am saying: "Row for the fun, the fitness, and the friendships." 

Linda Gromko, MD

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