Well-rounded. It’s not the shape that many of us look to be, but it is the type of person that we strive for. We hear a lot about being well-rounded and being balanced, but lets not confuse the two. Strengths and weaknesses, how do we understand the two? On which should we focus on?
There are two schools of thought concerning our strengths, weaknesses, skill development and employment of our skills. One side says that we should not worry about our weaknesses and instead, focus on employing our strengths. The other side says that we should look to turn our weaknesses into strengths, or become well-rounded. Here, I want to argue against the latter.
I have a friend. Let’s call him B. He use to be a businessman for GE before being called to the missions field and he is now in seminary with me. However, he couldn’t quite get away from the business world, as he has his own small business in addition to taking classes. He can’t get away from it because he’s such a good business man. God has gifted him with that ability. On the other hand, he is not a very strong artist. His handwriting is atrocious and his mind isn’t abstract enough for the arts. I think its also safe to say that he does not knit, or know Chinese, or play the guitar or know about the history of the Amish. Should he look to become a calligraphy master, fluent Chinese speaker, professional musician and a history buff? At the expense of his business, should he or should he not look to become more well-rounded by taking up all of those skills/knowledge?
I don’t think he should and here’s why.
1. Being well-rounded will consume your time
Unless you are a genius, becoming proficient in a new skill or area can take time. Lots of it. No one can become an expert in physics, or learn how to computer program or become a great planner or become proficient in (insert ability) without having to take time. Michael Jordan didn’t become a great player right away. Michelangelo didn’t paint works of art right after birth. It took time! Now, take the time it takes to become proficient in one area and multiply it, since becoming well rounded means being good in many areas. It can add up! There’s no way we can become great at everything with the time that we have. Greatness, proficiency and ability all take time to develop.
2. Being well-rounded will consume you.
I believe that when you become “good” at many things, then people will come to you for everything. I have a professor that everyone considers a genius. He’s incredibly smart. He reads out of the Greek New Testament as if he were reading out of an English bible! So whenever we have a question, outside of class, many of us immediately think to ask him. And if not for some self-discipline, we would all go to him all the time for answers, burning him out. If you become proficient at everything in the office, the “Mr. Do-Everything,” you will never get home (and that, a balance in life, is a post for another time). Additionally, some pursue “well-roundedness” because they want to be needed by others. That desire is dangerous and it will quickly swing you from the highs of joy to the lows of loneliness, giving you an emotional whiplash. Being well-rounded so others will need you is dangerous. Being well-rounded in general will consume your time.
3. Being well-rounded with blunt you
Have you ever tried to cut yourself with a paper? Not the edge, but the flat side of the paper. Its practically impossible. The flat side of the paper has no way to make an impact on you. In the same way, when we focus on being well-rounded, our impact in our jobs, our ministries, our relationships becomes blunted. When trying to become good at everything, you don’t have the time or energy to become great at something. But when we focus on our strengths and leverage them, our impact becomes exponential. For me, I know what my strengths are (knowing yourself could be a whole other post!). I believe that I am good at administration, planning, speaking and taking the initiative. I am not good at research, computer programming and working with my hands (construction). If I worked really hard at learning the computer languages so I could write programs, I wouldn’t have time for planning events or working on sermons. Aiming to be well-rounded would blunt my strengths.
As my seminary professor Dr. Higgins once said, “What’s the problem with being well rounded? You’re not sharp in anything!” That’s why round is the wrong shape.
Next week: why a triangle is the wrong shape.
How have you tried to be “well-rounded?” Did you see it as beneficial or not?