Well-Rounded is Over-Rated

“And the award goes to… the most well-rounded person!” Said no one, ever.

Achieving modestly in many areas may be what our middle school principal suggested, but it’s no way to become a history-maker. We’re led to believe we should be ‘pretty good’ at a lot of different things, but the truth is that the champions in all life’s pursuits embrace an opposite, counter-intuitive approach. They focus all their energy on just one thing, sacrificing most other areas of life to become world-class at a single, important, memorable quest.

This last week, we celebrated the life and legacy of the Queen of Soul, Detroit’s own Aretha Franklin. She was adored by millions and left her mark on the world, not because she was decent at fifteen things. Instead, she poured her entire being into her music. Franklin honed her craft over the decades, sharing her unmistakable voice and artistry to elevate us all. Would the impact have been as great if she spend only 15% of her focus on music, spreading her energies into various other hobbies and subjects?

In our busy lives, filled with information-overload and endless possibilities, the hardest thing to do is say NO to so many tempting paths in order to stay manically focused on just one. Discovering our calling, and then pursuing it with street fighter determination and tenacity, is the surest path to victory.

Balance is overrated. Well-rounded is another phrase for human energy that’s been diffused. Instead, become the Serena Williams, Pablo Picasso, or Ernest Hemingway of your own profession. Follow their lead at becoming the giant in their respective crafts, rather than being the master of none.

The cliché of “not putting all your eggs in one basket” is frankly for the birds. Instead, take absolutely every egg – and your friends’ eggs, neighbors’ eggs, and every other egg you can get your hands on – and stuff your one basket full. Singular focus – not well roundedness – is the mark of a champion.