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Are You Too Well Rounded?

That absolute focus can bring amazing productivity. But the well-roundedness is the stuff of life. That's where we live every day. That's why we go work so hard.
Karl Palachuk

Karl W. Palachuk
August 31, 2009

My daughter is getting ready to apply for colleges. She just started her Senior Year.

Over the weekend, someone gave her some really good advice: Don’t worry that the colleges say that everyone should have an activity here and membership there. YOU don’t have to personally be responsible for balancing the student body. The school is responsible for having a few people like this and a few people like that.

So one student doesn’t have to be well rounded as long as the student body as a whole is well rounded.

That got me to thinking about something Perry Marshall once wrote in his newsletter: The most successful people are not very well rounded.

Think about that. Many people skyrocket to success in their 20’s and early 30’s, then things slow down as they get older. Does age have anything to do with it? Not really, except that age brings life experiences.

With age you get children, mortgages, car payments (non-sporting type), taxes, in-laws, neighbors, etc. And if you’re successful you probably have a little money to explore some hobbies – hobbies that take your focus off the work that made you successful.

In other words, you can’t age very well and not become a little well-rounded here and there.

So is it good or bad?

The truth is that it’s a mixed bag.

That absolute focus can bring amazing productivity. But the well-roundedness is the stuff of life. That’s where we live every day. That’s why we go work so hard.

If we could all be like little children, life would be grand. Kids throw themselves into the moment. For them, nothing exists except the thing they’re doing right now. There’s no thought about what’s for dinner or how we’re going to get to school in the morning.

If they’re eating, they’re eating. If they’re playing, they’re playing. If they’re sorting crayons, they’re sorting crayons.

And very quickly they stop doing one thing and do another. Again with total focus.

That process of focusing on only one thing at a time is extremely difficult when you grow up. And switching from task to task without losing focus is just as difficult.

Perhaps well-roundedness in an adult simply consists of having a series of different things we focus on. After that it’s a matter of how focused we are at each.

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