Insights from ‘Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World’

I read a really interesting book called ‘Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World’.

It mostly refutes the 10,000 hr rule popularised by Malcolm Gladwell.

The thing with the 10,000 hr rule is that it only applies to domains where the rules never change and the rules are known and feedback is precise and rapid. Think chess. Think golf.

But in domains where the rules are constantly shifting, or the rules aren’t transparent, 10,000 hrs doesn’t account for much.

Think most professsions where the game is constantly changing. Sometimes from year to year, many times from month to month.

In fact when chess grandmasters had to play a game of chess where the rules were slightly different, they played at the same level as a beginner.

What I found really interesting to read was that experts with narrow expertise find it difficult to adapt to changing circumstances and have difficulty applying their expertise to the new world.

Reading about this got me thinking…

Listening to experts with narrow expertise and disregarding your own intuition and breadth of experience is a disadvantage.

By listening to them you’re inheriting their handicap of not being able to adapt and you’re putting yourself at a disadvantage by not using the broad range of skills and experience you have (assuming you have that).

One thing I’ve observed is that the wildest coolest most energetic people I know who’ve had the biggest leaps in their lives and careers don’t follow the rule book. They don’t obediently do what they’re supposed to do or what the industry says is the right way. They just do things their way.

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