Circles and Triangles: Confusing ‘Well Rounded’ with ‘Strength’

I was thinking about circle and triangles and how, in our society, many people believe we should all be well-rounded circles. In fact, we talk about how being ‘well-rounded’ as a better thing to be – a well-rounded athlete, for example – but is it?

But the truth is, many people are not well-rounded: they’re more like a triangle, with skills and attributes that are strong and sharp.  And, from my perspective, when we try to take a strong triangle, and make it into a circle, we weaken it.

Now, I’m not an engineer, but I do know that in mathematics and engineering, nothing beats the unyielding strength of the triangle. It’s unparalleled in terms of its strength to support a load and to resist external forces. You just have to look at bridges and trusses to see their power at work.

So why would you take a high-performing, salesperson who is amazing with customers and at finding solutions, and get them to focus on inputting data into the company CRM, or on their writing skills – to make their triangle more like a circle?

It may seem logical to try make them more ‘well-rounded’ but, in reality, that person is better off focusing on getting in front of more clients, and have someone else edit their work or input details into the CRM.

You’re much better off with two overlapping triangles: one who is amazing at sales and another who is amazing at administration.

Many executives know and live by this, but many miss this principle and try to force really good triangle people into a weaker, mediocre circle. Not good for them or for the company.

The Challenge