Or, in a sporting context, at what point does the satisfaction of being able to compete in a range of disciplines become lost in the desire to be the best in just one?
For Scott Frew, that point has finally arrived. As a teenager, he represented Scotland at age-group level in both rugby and basketball, showing such promise that he earned a scholarship in the United States. There, having discovered an aptitude for track hurdling, a series of poor decisions and injuries led him to return home, whereupon he was catapulted into contention to play handball for Great Britain at the 2012 Olympics. That he failed to make the final squad for London still rankles, even though he was named as a reserve.
Now, having travelled the world chasing sporting dreams that he never really had and returned to Troon, the 26-year-old believes the time has come to marry his undoubted physical talents to one particular event and end a prolonged period of promiscuity – in a sporting sense – that has left him only with regrets.
"I've had this nearly-guy tag in every sport I've done," he says. "It's frustrating and now, in my head, this is my last chance. I don't want to leave anything behind or be known as someone who nearly went to the Olympics, nearly went to the Commonwealth Games, or nearly played professional basketball in Europe."
All Frew needs to do now is find a sport.
The one thing he has taken from his Olympic disappointment is a desperation to compete in the Commonwealths in Glasgow, an ambition which narrows down his field to 17 disciplines. Having already met with sportscotland and added their talent identification programme to a long list of selection processes in recent years, Frew is poised to begin a month-long trial that will hopefully gauge the feasibility of him attaining the qualification standard in the 400m hurdles, with both long and high jumps also under consideration.
"The conversations we had and tests we did suggested I would be perfect for rowing but that's not in the Games," he says, albeit refusing to rule it out as a possibility further down the line. "I did hurdles when I was in the US and was ranked in the top five in the state of Texas before I ended up winning the state championships at 110m."
How a Scottish student on a basketball scholarship came to be running track in the first place is another matter. His first taste of sporting success – beyond winning the flat race in primary one – came through rugby as part of a dominant Marr College side. Bigger and quicker than most of his peers, the game was easy until the daily development of his privately educated opponents rendered his sporadic sessions insufficient and forced Frew to seek a new challenge.
Basketball was certainly that – he could not use a physical advantage to thrive – but he improved enough to represent Scotland and earn a scholarship in Texas for his final year of secondary school.
"One day I followed a cheerleader outside and ended up running on the track," he says ruefully, admitting it was because of a girl that he chose to enroll in a second division college despite having offers from more prestigious schools. Still, after a successful season on the track, if a less auspicious performance in his other sport – "I played American football to make up my scholarship but I was just a punching bag for them; I'd catch the ball and run while they chased me down" – Frew found himself well-placed to make progress, only for injury to force his return to Scotland.
Unsure what to do with himself, his father, Stephen, entered him in the Sporting Giants programme, designed to identify potential Olympians and, within weeks, he was on the move to Denmark with the GB handball squad. A stranger to the sport, he fell victim to funding cuts before a change of coach and a series of impressive performances for Scotland earned him a recall, only for his hopes to be dashed once more just weeks before London.
Having been so close, the sport coaching student is determined to make sure he is not disappointed again. "I'm at Glasgow University, so I'm going to be here with the free time and I've got the desire, having been so close before," he says. "I'm not trying to belittle any sport, thinking I can just come in and learn it in time for the Commonwealths, because I know from handball how difficult it is and how you can wind people up by doing that. I realise that if I say 'right, I'm going to try to qualify in the 400m hurdles' the guys who are ranked in the top few places are going to be thinking 'no chance' and be a bit suspicious of me but maybe it will give them a little bit of motivation. I don't need any more motivation than it being in my home country. I'm just going to dedicate myself to it, work as hard as I can and try to put myself in the best position to get there.
"If I'm not good enough, at least I will know that I have given it my best shot."