Monday, March 9, 2020

Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized WorldRange: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World by David Epstein
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

In a lot of ways, this book is a vindication of everything I hold dear.

Why? 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 question a much greater chance to make creative connections that most others will miss.

The benefit of being a generalist is not lost on me. The more 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 demands.

It'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 all.

In 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 novel.

So, who's in charge of hiring well-read people with strong critical thinking skills and temperaments conducive to thinking outside the box?

Anyone?

Hello? I'm right here!

lol

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