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What's the most effective path to success in any domain It's not what you thinkPlenty of experts argue that anyone who wants to develop a skill play an instrument or lead their field should start early focus intensely and rack up as many hours of deliberate practice as possible If you dabble or delay you'll never catch up to the people who got a head start But if you take a closer look at the world's top performers from professional athletes to Nobel laureates you'll find that early specialization is the exception not the ruleDavid Epstein author of the New York Times bestseller The Sports Gene studied the world's most successful ath Disclosure I won this pre release copy in a drawing from the publisherThe book wasn t badly written but for me it was something of a slog I ve enjoyed similar books in this genre the sort of pop psychology self help mashup including books like Willpower BaumeisterTierney The Upside of Down McArdle The Power of Habit Duhigg among others There was nothing distracting in the style of Range that failed to work for me But the presentation often left me wanting arguing in my head against the point the author was making It often felt like being led down a garden path and asked to ignore things on the edge of the trail as meaningless distractionsPart of the challenge confronting the author was in tackling a deconstructed subject In the opening chapter Tiger Woods and Roger Federer are presented as juxtapositions in how to become the best in their respective sports Woods is raised on golf obsessively from an early age while Federer is allowed to explore all sports until he settles on tennis much later Woods exemplifies the narrow specialist while Federer stands in for the generalist As a reader I kept complaining that they were both raised on sports generally and that both were clearly encouraged to develop talents by sports obsessive homesAnd the reading went on in this spirit throughout with uite impressive accomplished individuals described in broad outlines predominantly having achieved success as apparent outsiders rather than very very narrow specialists who had rarely been permitted to pursue interests beyond the narrow confines This often felt like an anecdote held up as a contrast to a caricature The supporting research mentioned freuently felt vague than persuasive And as a result for me the book was mostly frustratingIt was not all a loss however as the author certainly shows significant benefit of applying far flung knowledge to unanticipated problems He clearly demonstrates the tendency of narrow specialists in our increasingly specialized society to become blinkered by their own learning to the point that they can no longer step outside their fields for a fresh view from a different perspective He also shows how institutions like NASA can succumb to a narrow minded specialist group thinkI can t say that I regret pushing myself to read all the way through But I felt I didn t get any particular insights from it much less suggestions for how to get greater range or how to make better use of my own generalist background Yet it may well benefit readers who ve come to believe that specialization is all there is or should be in life

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Range Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World

Session with getting a head start is understandable; early specialization feels efficient But Epstein marshals an enormous body of scientific research to argue that we should all actively cultivate inefficiency Failing a test is the best way to learn Freuent uitters end up with the most fulfilling careers The most impactful inventors cross domains rather than deepening their knowledge in a single area Provocative rigorous and engrossing Range explains how to maintain the benefits of breadth diverse experience interdisciplinary thinking and delayed concentration in a world that increasingly incentivizes even demands hyperspecializatio In a lot of ways this book is a vindication of everything I hold dearWhy Well granted it IS a vindication of a mindset that rebels against going down any single rabbit hole to the exclusion of everything else in this life which is basically another way of saying that specialists are generally unable to see beyond their own field Being widely read having wide experiences and knowing a ton of different fields lends the person in uestion a much greater chance to make creative connections that most others will missThe benefit of being a generalist is not lost on me The I learn across many fields the easier I understand ANY field even unrelated ones like cross stitching and covariant loop analysis Or the tensile strength of a willow tree to cognitive plasticity It s not about knowing any one thing It s about being able to see the forest for the trees About seeing and correctly intuiting the bigger picture It s about sussing out trends Tossing out bad ideas including a wide variety of tools in your toolbox and knowing which ones to throw away as the situation demandsIt s about being adaptable Being able to be creative Using analogies It s about cutting to the heart of the issue because you re able to SEE a problem that might cross many different fields and affect them allIn a specialist world generalists still tend to outperform across their entire lifetime any specialist Being able to cite everyone in your field does not predict how you would perform when encountering anything novelSo who s in charge of hiring well read people with strong critical thinking skills and temperaments conducive to thinking outside the boxAnyoneHello I m right herelol

David Epstein ç 1 SUMMARY

Letes artists musicians inventors forecasters and scientists He discovered that in most fields especially those that are complex and unpredictable generalists not specialists are primed to excel Generalists often find their path late and they juggle many interests rather than focusing on one They're also creative agile and able to make connections their specialized peers can't spy from deep in their hyperfocused trenches As experts silo themselves further while computers master of the skills once reserved for highly focused humans people who think broadly and embrace diverse experiences and perspectives will increasingly thriveOur ob The story of the new US Open golf winner illustrates part of the thesis of this book A range of experience is sometimes better than over specialization In the book Roger Federer is another examplehttpswwwnytimescom20190617spThis passage describes a key finding that is central to the bookJames Flynn is a professor of political studies in New ZealandFlynn s great disappointment is the degree to which society and particularly higher education has responded to the broadening of the mind by pushing specialization rather than focusing early training on conceptual transferable knowledge Flynn conducted a study in which he compared the grade point averages of seniors at one of America s top state universities from neuroscience to English majors to their performance on a test of critical thinking The test gauged students ability to apply fundamental abstract concepts from economics social and physical sciences and logic to common real world scenarios Flynn was bemused to find that the correlation between the test of broad conceptual thinking and GPA was about zero In Flynn s words the traits that earn good grades at the university do not include critical ability of any broad significance Even the best universities aren t developing critical intelligence he said They aren t giving students the tools to analyze the modern world except in their area of specialization Their education is too narrow As a patient I see this in medicine My father practiced medicine for 40 years He used to say that medicine was as much an art as a science The art is gone No doctor I ve encountered knows how to take a good patient history Many times as a result of my own research I ve asked my doctors what about X Oh good idea Shouldn t they have the ability and knowledge to bring these issues up themselves But this is true in many fields in late 2014 a team of German scientists published a study showing that members of their national team which had just won the World Cup were typically late specializers who didn t play organized soccer than amateur league players until age twenty two or later They spent of their childhood and adolescence playing non organized soccer and other sportsIt s not about the mythical 10000 hours The reason that elite athletes seem to have superhuman reflexes is that they recognize patterns of ball or body movements that tell them what s coming before it happens As the greatest hockey player in history Wayne Gretzky said I skate to where the puck is going not where it has been Same is true of Steph Curry who views the basketball court as a rapidly moving chessboard He sees several moves ahead When we know the rules and answers and they don t change over time chess golf playing classical music an argument can be made for savant like hyperspecialized practice from day one But those are poor models of most things humans want to learn Meanwhile advances in artificial intelligence have already shown that rules based human jobs will be the first to go the AI is implemented This reality was made shockingly obvious when a computer defeated the world champion Gary Kasparov in chess Likewise the international Go champion And now poker RE parents psychologist Adam Grant noted that creativity may be difficult to nurture but it is easy to thwart He pointed to a study that found an average of six household rules for typical children compared to one in households with extremely creative childrenDarwin s father was a doctor who wanted his son to become a doctor Darwin lasted only half a semester in med school He turned to the church He was a Bible literalist at the time and figured he would become a clergyman He bounced around classes including a botany course with a professor who subseuently recommended him for an unpaid position aboard the HMS Beagle After convincing his father that he would not become a deadbeat if he took this one detour he experienced perhaps the most impactful post college gap year in history Decades later Darwin reflected on the process of self discovery It seems ludicrous that I once intended to be a clergyman he wrote A recent international Gallup survey of than two hundred thousand workers in 150 countries reported that 85 percent were either not engaged with their work or actively disengaged In that condition according to Seth Godin uitting takes a lot guts than continuing to be carried along like debris on an ocean wave The trouble Godin noted is that humans are bedeviled by the sunk cost fallacy Having invested time or money in something we are loath to leave it because that would mean we had wasted our time or money even though it is already gone There is perverse inverse relationship between fame and accuracy The likely an expert was to have his or her predictions featured on op ed pages and television the likely they were always wrong Paul Ehrlich s Population Bomb is an infamous example He appeared on Johnny Carson s Tonight Show 20x gave congressional testimony and his theory was heavily sold in a cover article in The New Republic The end result of this crisis Ehrlich asserted would be global nuclear war The hedgehogs according to political scientist Philip Tetlock toil devotedly within one tradition of their specialty and reach for formulaic solutions to ill defined problems Outcomes did not matter they were proven right by both successes and failures and burrowed further into their ideas It made them outstanding at predicting the past but dart throwing chimps at predicting the future the opposite of flexible intelligence is cognitive entrenchmentResearchers in Canada and the United States began a 2017 study by asking a politically diverse and well educated group of adults to read arguments confirming their beliefs about controversial issues When participants were then given a chance to get paid if they read contrary arguments two thirds decided they would rather not even look at the counterarguments never mind seriously entertain them I liked the first 10 chapters of this book In chapters 11 12 the author turns it into a business book with some extremely tedious cases studies that they do in MBA programs It reminded me why I don t like and never read business books So this a caveat for this book that removes one star from the ratingPoker AIhttpswwwnytimescom20190711scExcellent new documentary on AIhttpswwwyoutubecomwatchv5dZl


10 thoughts on “Range Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World

  1. says:

    Disclosure I won this pre release copy in a drawing from the publisherThe book wasn't badly written but for me it was something of a slog I've enjoyed similar books in this genre the sort of pop psychology self help mashup including books like Willpower BaumeisterTierney The Upside of Down McArdle The Power of Habit Duhigg among others There was nothing distracting in the style of Range that failed to work for me But the

  2. says:

    I’ve staked my entire adult life on following the generalist’s path instead of the specialist’s so I hoped this book would answer my basic uestions What about the role Neuroplasticity plays with keeping the following people analytically extra sharp The Polymath the Multi Instrumentalist and those like Noam Chomsky composer Elliot Cart

  3. says:

    This book looks at how an emphasis on specialization can actually hamper our ability to really excel at something It aligns with what I try to do when I am coaching in my stories and what we’re doing with Mamba Sports Academy—cre

  4. says:

    “Compare yourself to yourself yesterday not to younger people who aren’t you”An incredibly slow read for me but I e

  5. says:

    Do I think it's a five star book It's very hard for me to say as I wrote the thing By the time I'm done working on

  6. says:

    The story of the new US Open golf winner illustrates part of the thesis of this book A range of experience is sometimes bett

  7. says:

    In a lot of ways this book is a vindication of everything I hold dearWhy Well granted it IS a vindication of a mindset that rebels against going down any single rabbit hole to the exclusion of everything else in this life which is basically another way of saying that specialists are generally unable to see beyond their own field Being widely read having wide experiences and knowing a ton of different fields lends the person in ues

  8. says:

    This book is a useful mythbuster grit 10000 hours deliberate practice tiger moms this book says forget all of that sort of Try lots of things read broadly and fail lots of times I agree with this formula for success Specialization is boring I think there is something to being obsessive once you are in the right t

  9. says:

    Now THIS is how you write a compelling non fiction book This has catapulted itself on my must have shelf after the introduction aloneT

  10. says:

    As a believer in Charlotte Mason's generous feast I knew the minute I heard about this book that I had to read it It did start slow but this boo