Turns out Being Well-rounded is Not the Best Way — for us or our kids

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Becoming well-rounded is a common pursuit. The person who can “do it all” is the one who gets the most praise and acclaim. We have our kids in both dance and sports, both academics and arts, both scholarship and friendship.

Well-rounded is the gold standard for success. That is certainly what I believed…and just about dropped over in exhaustion from trying to achieve it.

Turns out, being well-rounded is not the best way, for us or our kids.

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Ingrained Focus on Being Well-rounded

Imagine your child someday comes home with a mid-term report that looks something like this:

English — A
Social Studies — C
Algebra — F
Biology — A

Which of these grades would you spend the most time discussing with your child?

Give yourself a second to reply before you scroll.

Which did you choose?

If you are like most people, your eyes quickly zeroed in on the F in Algebra. In a similar, US-wide Gallup poll, 77% say they would spend the most time discussing the F.

So, if that was you, you’re not alone.

In the halls of our schools and in the heart of our societal fabric, we are told that the most successful among us are the well-rounded.

It is true we have to pass Algebra to squeeze through high school, but what are we doing when we “spend the most time discussing” the point of weakness?

We are training our kids {& engraining in ourselves} that we will be most valued, happy, successful, and praised when we are well-rounded.

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Circle vs Star Word Picture

Let’s imagine our lives or the lives of your kids as a lump of clay.

clifton strengths ball of clay

We hold up the renaissance man and renaissance woman as the path to most success and well-being. We are told that if we are well-rounded, we will get the promotion, be honored among our peers, or get the scholarship.

So, we pursue the perfect circle—to be well-rounded.

clifton strengths flat clay

But really, very few of us are good at everything. In fact there are a few things we excel in, and in the others…not so much.

What is closer to the truth is that we operate best more like a star.

In fact, the field of positive psychology was born out of this very idea. Instead of deficit, our path of least resistance to success and happiness is through our strengths, like this star.

clifton strengths sharp star

So by emphasizing well roundedness, we work against what will make us shine brightest.

But, that is not what we are told. So, we pursue that star. We help our kids round themselves out.

Let’s say you have a review at work or your kids come home with that report card. There are a few things that you do really well and a few weaknesses. So, naturally, you set up a plan to primarily focus on improvement in the weakest areas.

You spend energy and time every day thinking about those areas, practicing them. You have your colleagues keep you accountable. You hire a tutor for your kids.

You work on it and work on it and you think for sure you are making progress, only to step back and see that the progress you have made isn’t that remarkable. {And you’re exhausted!}

In fact, by fixating on weakness, you are no closer to being well-rounded than you were when you started. Though, you are much more ameba-looking!

clifton strengths smashed star

In addition, because you have spent so much time fixating on weakness, the sharp points of your star—those things that do come naturally to you, that you love to do, that you thrive in—have not grown, or have even dulled along the way, as you have ignored them for the sake of fixing your weaknesses.

Choose the Sharpest Path Instead

Being well-rounded feels like a nobel, reasonable goal. We are told it is, and it seems to make sense. Until you try to get there and realize there is so much at stake by fixating on weakness.

Albert Einstein said,

Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.

You—as a lump of clay—form most naturally into a star.

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By finding the sharpest points to your star—your Strengths—and choosing to keep your energy directed toward developing and sharpening them will be your path of least resistance to your genius.

Likewise, the power to your kids is unmatched. When we point to the good—recognize it, call it out, praise it, help them grow it—instead of constantly directing toward fixing their weaknesses, they too, will begin to truly shine.

It is counter-cultural and it will make all the difference for you and your kids.

 


LINKS | RESOURCES | CONNECT

Links & Resources from today

Discover your Top 5 Strengths with StrengthsFinder + Strengths Startup
FREE StrengthsFinder Masterclass :: Re-energize your Marriage and your Work – Waitlist for Spring!
9 Steps to Life-change {FREE Checklist}
{9 Steps} to Life Change through your StrengthsFinder Top 5 Strengths
From Burnt Out to Fired Up: A Strengths Career Story
There is only ONE way to parent
Are You Afraid of Your Weaknesses? | GALLUP Poll

Connect

The Strengths-perspective can impact your marriage, your parenting, and your work!

If you’re into it or you’re just not so sure about it all, reach out, and let’s connect about it. You can catch me on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, all at @isogostrong, by this handy contact form, or in our Energy Up Frustration Down facebook group.

Enjoy your day, and {be strong}!

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