The Fallacy of Being Well-Rounded Share:

Steve Williamson, Dir. Product Development, eRep, Inc.
Monday, May 25, 2020
Tags: #excellence #psychometrics

For this article, we reference a recent video by Marcus Buckingham, British author and motivational speaker, titled: "Lie #4: The Best People are Well-Rounded."

You can read a transcript here:

Are you good at everything you try? Some people are Jacks and Jills of All Trades, where they find a modicum of success at just about everything they attempt. But do they ever excel at more than a few? Likely not.

Is it a bad thing to be well-rounded? Not at all! The world needs people who can flex and change and adapt to a variety of situations and challenges. The fallacy lies in expecting everyone to be like that, and even more so, expecting them to excel at everything.

It is a fallacy to think that people can only be great if they are good at everything.

Marcus Buckingham explains:

We all seem to think that excellence — in anything — can be defined in advance, and independently of the person being excellent. We use competency models to define excellence in a job … and then we measure you against this pre-defined list of competencies that we've decided are necessary to achieve excellence in your role.
Of course, this is a ridiculous way to look at excellence — by defining it in advance, measuring you against the definition, and then sending you to be trained in whatever states or traits you supposedly lack. Because excellence isn't well-rounded.

By way of example, Marcus goes on to explain how pre-defining excellence is an incorrect thought process. To paraphrase his point, we cannot predefine what excellence looks like. We can only define what excellence produces.

Business Success

Marcus compares the excellence of Warren Buffet and Richard Branson. Both men achieve their successful results via completely different models and methods. If we defined what excellence looks like ahead of time, we'd have to exclude Warren or Richard for not meeting the other's standards — whichever individual we decided ahead of time represented what excellence looks like.

Educational Success

One of the flaws of our educational system is that we push each student — all those individual and unique children and young adults — to fit into a model that values being well-rounded and homogenous. You are expected to be a master of everything. The closer you are to an unrealistic homogenous norm, the more likely you are to succeed within a system that values it.

When you take the Core Values Index psychometric assessment, your full report describes your particular profile as a set of four core value energy scores ranging from 0 to 36 each, totaling exactly 72. A completely 'square' or well-rounded profile would have 18 in each of the core value energies. This is extremely rare and it is impractical to expect every student to match.

Take the CVI, read your full report, and learn what your profile numbers mean.

Discover your personality's DNA with the Core Values Index psychometric assessment.

If someone is really good at one thing, such as gathering and analyzing data, are they also supposed to be really good at motivational speaking and organizing large groups of people? If you are really good at nursing, are you also supposed to excel at engineering?

There are two questions you should ask yourself:

"Where do I shine?"

"What are my particular characteristics, aptitudes and areas of excellence?"

Discovering your unique answers to these questions is very important. Otherwise, you may spend your whole life trying to meet an arbitrary and nearly impossible standard that requires you to be a master of everything in order to succeed. That is an unrealistic standard and has no bearing on your ability to excel.

Go to to learn more about the CVI or to take the Core Values Index assessment.
The Fallacy of Being Well-Rounded

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Steve Williamson

Steve Williamson

Innovator/Banker - Dir. Product Development, eRep, Inc.

Steve has a career in information technology and software development spanning three decades. He is the author of a series of fantasy novels called The Taesian Chronicles (, and when he isn't writing he enjoys motorcycle adventure touring and buzzing around the skies in his home-built flight simulator.