5 Ways to Raise a Well-Rounded Person

I took a class on adolescence, and someone in it said that if Michael Jordan were a teenager today, he probably wouldn’t have had the same career. Coaches would have made him focus on basketball all year instead of also playing baseball and football, sports that require different muscles and movements. More than likely, his body would have been exposed to rigorous basketball-focused exercise, making him prone to injury, especially in his knees. Unsure if that was true, I researched a bit, and sure enough, Dr. Peter Fabricant, a pediatric orthopedic surgeon, says, “Playing the same sport intensively all year round puts young athletes at higher risk of overuse injuries.” It seems as though being a well-rounded athlete is better for a child’s body than specializing.

The same is true of activities and subjects of study for a child. It’s important to have a working knowledge of a number of different fields. Yes, they have certain aptitudes and talents that they will need to hone for a career. However, gaining an understanding of a number of different interests and activities helps them connect with others and develop mentally and physically. So, we need to pass on the things our kids need to do to be a well-rounded person. Here are 5 of those things.

1. Be curious.

Curiosity compels us to seek out information, to learn and experience more. I’ll never forget a group of consultants speaking to our organization about the Myers-Briggs personality test. They were explaining a particular personality type and how they were less efficient when accomplishing a task, however, they tended to be curious. The particular type of person would go down rabbit holes of information. While it may have been more efficient for that particular task, all of the information they gain gives them valuable insight moving forward.

2. Practice activities that don’t come easily.

We perform well in the areas conducive to our natural talent. It makes us feel good and we are often recognized and celebrated for it. It’s tempting to stay in those areas. But when we stick to those activities and subjects, our knowledge and growth are limited. Try things that challenge your motor skills and utilize different parts of your brain. It’ll make you appreciate those who have natural abilities in those things.

Doing things that make us uncomfortable gives us wisdom, perspective, and insight.

3. Do things that make you uncomfortable.

Does anyone like discomfort? I didn’t think so. When I worked with teenagers, one of the hardest things I did was go to the high school. Before some Friday night football games, I would sit in my car and pray for God to give me the courage to sit in the student section and talk to just one person. It was uncomfortable, but it helped me understand, appreciate, and have empathy for teenagers. Doing things that make us uncomfortable gives us wisdom, perspective, and insight.

4. Work to understand alternative points of view.

Speaking of wisdom, Proverbs 4:6 says, “Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will watch over you.” We gain wisdom through experience, but we also gain it by studying and understanding alternative points of view. You don’t have to agree with an opposing viewpoint, but you need to understand it—and not just a strawman version of it, but a clear picture with respect and humility.

5. Sharpen your abilities and improve on what comes easily.

Stepping out of our comfort zones and practicing difficult things doesn’t mean we ignore our talents. Becoming a well-rounded person still involves improving on the things that come naturally. As Timothy 4:14 says, “Do not neglect the gift you have.” Develop your talents until you reach a level of excellence and then keep sharpening them.

Sound off: What are some other things that need to be done to be a well-rounded person?

Huddle up with your kids and ask, “What do you think it means to be well-rounded?”