#1735 “Well-Rounded” Is Overrated

Rather, Be Exceptional

In our last few +1s (here and here), we’ve been chatting about How Champions Think and the fact that exceptional people are, by DEFINITION, an exception to the norm.

Let’s continue our chat on the subject for just another moment.

Today we’re going to talk about the perils of being “well-rounded.”

This time, we’ll bring in some more wisdom from Bob Rotella then we’ll invite Peter Drucker and Tom Rath to join the party as well.


Rotella tells us: “I don’t see a lot of exceptional people whom I’d characterize as well-rounded. I see a lot more people who are very single-minded. They have a passion for one thing, and they pursue it zealously. They generally reserve time for family when they’re not pursuing their passion. But that’s about all the spare time they have.”

Then we have Peter Drucker.

In his classic book, The Effective Executive, he tells us: “Whoever tries to place a man or staff an organization to avoid weakness will end up at best with mediocrity. The idea that there are ‘well rounded’ people, people who have only strengths and no weaknesses (whether the term used is the ‘whole man,’ the ‘mature personality,’ the ‘well- adjusted personality,’ or the ‘generalist’) is a prescription for mediocrity if not for incompetence. Strong people always have strong weaknesses too. Where there are peaks, there are valleys. And no one is strong in many areas. Measured against the universe of human knowledge, experience, and abilities, even the greatest genius would have to be rated a total failure. There is no such thing as a ‘good man.’ Good for what? is the question.”

Then we have Tom Rath who echoes this wisdom.

In Are You Fully Charged?, he says: “If you spend most of your life trying to be good at everything, you eliminate your chances of being great at anything. Unless your goal is to be mediocre at a lot of things, starting with what you are naturally good at is a matter of efficiency. Focusing on strengths is in many ways a basic time-allocation issue. Every hour you invest in an area where you have natural talent has a multiplying effect, whereas each hour you spend trying to remedy a weakness is like working against a gravitational force. Yet many people spend years or even decades working on weaknesses in hopes that doing so will make them well-rounded.

Do everything you can to avoid falling into this trap. While well-roundedness may be helpful for acquiring the basic tools in any trade—such as reading, writing, and arithmetic—it loses value as you get closer to finding a career. At that point, what’s more important and relevant is what sets you apart. If you want to be great at something in your lifetime, double down on your talents at every turn.”

That’s Today’s +1.

I repeat…

Want to be exceptional?

Be willing to let go of the “normal” idea of being “well-rounded.”

Practically speaking…

What’s ONE thing you can do to go a little more ALL IN on leaning into YOUR unique strengths?

Get on that.

Be exceptional.

Give us ALL you’ve got.


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