Be a Generalist

Ooooooooh… I like this a lot:

David Epstein, author of the New York Times bestseller The Sports Gene, studied the world’s most successful athletes, 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 more creative, more agile, and able to make connections their more specialized peers can’t spy from deep in their hyperfocused trenches.

As experts silo themselves further while computers master more of the skills once reserved for highly focused humans, people who think broadly and embrace diverse experiences and perspectives will increasingly thrive.

via Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World

I’ve written a few posts more recently about how it’s better to be an n + 1 type of person and a polymath and these are the types of things that I’m chatting more and more about with my kids.

David Epstein’s new book isn’t out for another few months, but I’m getting more and more excited about it because it just feels a bit more close to the truth of how I now feel.

You see, I once believed that I should focus on trying to go deep instead of wide but that’s just not in my own personal nature and I’ve seen my broad(er) set of skills, experiences, and perspectives appreciated more and more as I get older.

Especially with computing as knowledge parity because ever-more available and easy to obtain, the confluence and intersection of many different disciplines and experiences is becoming not only more appreciated but also more necessary in an ever-changing and dynamic world.

Finally, I’ve thought a lot about timing in my own life and, like many of you I’m sure, you’ve given some thought as to whether you’re “early” or “late” to the so-called Game of Life™️ and in the world of technology I’ve always considered myself a bit of a late bloomer.

Especially when it comes to feeling at peace with myself and my direction and the aggregate of my experiences in my career. I’ve watched younger and younger folks find their “path” and there’s a nagging feeling like I have either missed the boat or somehow did my career wrong (if that’s even really possible).

But I am more confident in who I am and, as a result, have a lot more love and self-respect than I did when I was younger and that’s a huge win because I never thought I’d get there.

Progress.

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