In a previous post, I posted an excerpt from the book Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World.
Now that I have actually finished reading the book, I know that there are a lot of other great points in the book aside from that one exercise. Range describes how there are different ways to become an elite performer. In some disciplines (such as golf, chess, etc.) the best way to become great is to practice a lot from a very young age; however, in many other disciplines, it is actually best to have a diverse set of skills and experiences that can prepare you for any type of situation you may encounter.
In the real world, there are not the types of strict rules and patterns that make it easier to focus on a specific set of skills such as golf and chess. This can make it more difficult for people with highly specialized skills to adapt if they ever encounter a problem.
David Epstein, the author, makes the point that sometimes specialization makes it more difficult to adapt to current technology and the rise of AI. Computers are incredible for tasks that require a great memory and a deep amount of knowledge on one subject; however, computers are not good at being able to see the entire picture and make connections between different industries. Therefore, one thing that Epstein advocates for is for humans to learn how to work with computers; basically, people can use computers to do mundane tasks more efficiently, but for people to continue to succeed, they need to keep innovating and creating new industries.
I think it was great to hear another side of how to succeed. Oftentimes, we are told that the only way to succeed is by committing to one career path and sticking to it; this is why so many people go to medical school, law school, etc. While this works out great for some people, change is inevitable, and it is great to understand how to best deal with it. Epstein gives plenty of examples and research describing how in the short-term, specialization can be incredibly valuable and give you a head start in your career; however, in the long-term, it oftentimes turns out to be more valuable to explore and learn about a variety of fields.
If you are close to either end of the spectrum (if you are either a super specialist, or a jack-of-all-trades), I think this would be a great book to read that can help to give you a new perspective on life.
Range Recommendation Rating: 4
1: Something worth checking out if you have time
2: Something that is a hit for some people, but not a must for everyone
3: Something worth prioritizing if interested
4: Something worth making time to check out
5: An absolute home run, worth going out of your way for