Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World

Tiger Woods was trained almost from the cradle for one thing–to be the greatest golfer.

Roger Federer tried many sports. He loved soccer. Even though his mother was a tennis teacher, he didn’t pick up tennis until his early teens. Other kids had been playing for years by then. He soon passed them by and into his thirties is a dominant tennis star.

You need to be good at something, but it is good to be interested and experienced in many things.

I have a book to recommend. Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World, by David Epstein. It is not a spiritual book. It is a book that will help you learn to live a fuller life–and help you bring up your kids and encourage your grandkids.

Life in the Industrial Age, as well as in some previous eras, was composed of patterns. You could be trained to recognize patterns and adapt and become skilled at them. These are called “kind” learning environments. Kids excel who see and repeat the patterns.

Life today is what a psychologist call a “wicked” learning environment. Here, the rules of the game are often unclear or incomplete, there may or may not be repetitive patterns, and they may not be obvious, and feedback is often delayed, inaccurate or both. In most devilishly wicked learning environments, experience will reinforce the exact wrong lessons.

How does one adapt? By reading widely. Pursue several interests. That will be the human triumph in an age of robots.

I respect those who study the Bible. I have studied it for years. However, there is much more to spiritual growth. There exist many deeply spiritual guides who have left books and stories behind for us. Start drawing or painting. Pick up music. Study nature–don’t just take pictures of sunsets, observe nature deeply and often.

I often ponder the relationship of God, creation, Quantum physics, relativity theory, and TS Eliot’s poetry. There will not be a stunning book coming from that, but it broadens my mind to receive new insights.

One Response to “Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World”

  1. Georganna Says:

    Beloved, I always enjoy reading your post. Very witty and insightful. Yes, I agree in today’s age you have to be resourceful and good at many things. Technology is taking over, even cashier’s, waiters and hostess are being replaced by technology. Nobody’s job is safe. Additionally, transition and death are inevitable, so stay prayed up and keep your FAITH strong. Be encouraged because God is our source. He will make a way!!
    Blessings, Georganna

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