Above, I snapped a picture of my 3 year-old’s toy. This toy has gotten a lot of “playtime” over the past couple of years. At first, she would shake the whole thing. The plastic shapes would rattle around inside the red and blue container. She loved the clanging noise.
As she got older, the focus became the little, yellow shapes. She would pick them up, turn them around, and proceed to bang them against anything that made noise. Sometimes she would bang them against the toy’s different shaped holes, and sometimes she would just hit them on the floor. Occasionally, she would throw the toy just to hear all the plastic parts clang and bang against each other.
Now, she’s almost four. The toy does not get as much attention as it once did, but when she does play with it, she treats it more like a puzzle.
She will pick up a piece. Maybe a triangle, or a star, or a square, then she will rotate the container around in her hands as she searches for the corresponding shaped hole. Once she finds the right fit, she slides the shape into the container only to pick up another yellow shape and start again. I wish I could say that she’s grown out of the clanging and banging, but that would be a lie. Every now and then, she gets frustrated. Trying to force a piece into the wrong shaped hole results in the familiar sound, “Clang, clang, clang” as she bangs the plastic on the wrong hole hoping it will pop into place.
The reason I share this experience is because I think it’s the perfect illustration for how we treat our own talents, skills, and abilities. Last month I had the incredible experience of attending a Gallop StrengthFinders Certification Class in Raleigh, NC. It was life changing. One of the biggest takeaways was the revelation that we’ve all been fed a lie about the need to be “Well-Rounded.” Let me explain:
The “Well-Rounded” Lie
You see, each of us is unique.
We each have individual skills, talents, and abilities. These talents reflect how we were made. They are God-given traits. We can ignore them or embrace them. If we are intentional about growing these talents, then they become strengths. Our natural abilities can be cultivated. They can be improved upon. If you focus on improving your strengths, then you’re not just “good” or “better.”
You’re “EXCELLENT.” You’re “OUTSTANDING.” You’re “World-Class.”
This sounds like common sense. It’s not.
The sad part is that most people do not develop their strengths. They take them for granted. Instead, they spend most of their time trying to fix their weaknesses. This happens in part because our culture stresses the need to be “well-rounded.” It tells us:
If you’re not good at math, then you need to study harder. If you hate Spanish class, then you need to study harder. (That’s the only way to make it into Spanish II.) If you’re good at soccer, then try tennis. If you love art, then you should try computer class.
Everyone needs to be well-rounded… at least that’s what we’ve been told.
IT’S A LIE.
The most successful people I know are not good at everything. They are excellent. They are excellent at one thing, their strength.
If you are a rectangle, then stop trying to fit into the circle. Accept your “rectangleness.” Embrace your sharp edges. Learn what you can do as a rectangle. You might not be the best at everything. That’s okay. Find where you excel. Where is your sweet spot?
This is what God made you for! This is what you were created for!