Four pots on the stove

I recently read a blog regarding the four burner’s theory.  The author’s hypothesis starts with the premise that each segment of our life can be compared to a burner of a stove.  On each burner is a pot that contains a gourmet meal.  Each pot requires not only special ingredients, placed in at specific times.  Each vessel requires also unique stirring patterns and variations in heat and cooking times.  The act of cooking and keeping focus on one or two pots, at the same time, is reasonable.  Three pots can be managed, with training and practice.  However, 4 pots at once isn’t reasonable.

But we all innately disagree with this conclusion.  We pretend that we can overlap skills used to cook in each pot, but we end up with anything but gourmet output.  We end up with Walmart grade food, or, to get it meaningful, we get drive through quality from every pot, when we attempt to focus on all 4 burners at once.

The pots have names

Pot 1 is called family

Pot 2 is called friends

Pot 3 is called health

Pot 4 is called work.

The four burners theory states that if you are the only cook, you need to cut off one burner if you want to be successful.  If you want to be REALLY successful, you need to cut off two burners.

If you are normal, you are already deep in disagreement.  You are not even pausing to evaluate the many positions presented in this argument.  Some of you even conclude that your life represents not just the exception to this rule-you represent the case study that disproves this position.  You stand and shout, “I have a great support structure that accommodates doing all of these well!”

I, too, have a great support structure.  I have very much thought that I have done them well.  I am happily married to a happy wife.  I gather with friends nearly every Tuesday night and Sunday night and do life with them.  I am an uber-fit athlete who has  experienced success. I am the president of a business and own a beautiful house with no mortgage.

Garbage.  I am NOT capable of 4 pots, on the stove, at the same time, despite the fraudulent evidence I present both to you and myself that I can do 4 pots.  Set aside, I have spent years of my life taking turns letting the contents of my pots become inedible before starting over.

This weekend, I am “off” on the health pot, and this month, I have been “off” on the work pot, too.  Just a few hours ago, my oldest son got married.  Of the pinnacles of life as the father of a groom, my primary tasks as a parent reached completion.  At our guidance, he is now educated, gainfully employed, lives on his own and has publicly selected his girl with the words, “until death do us part.”

Yet, some regret trickles in.  This weekend, the ITU World Championships in both sprint distance duathlon and standard distance duathlon are taking place in Aviles, Spain, and many of my friends are posting on Facebook and the like of their travels and the buildup for the big event.  I wish that I had this burner cooking, right now.

Without regret, I joyfully chose to stay at home and celebrate as my wife and I get our first daughter!  Welcome to our family, Lauren!


Later this month, I will supervise our scout troop at summer camp in the Pisgah National Forest for a few days before heading out to do Powerman West Virginia.  A few days later, I will travel to Bend, OR, to compete in the USAT National Championship both in Standard Length Duathlon and Sprint Distance Duathlon.  After that, I will focus nearly exclusively on work and health, as I prepare for the ITU World Championships in Long Course Duathlon in Zofingen, Switzerland, early in September.

What pot do you pretend tastes good, when you know you’ve left it alone for too long?

Ask your spouse…I’ll bet that they know.



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