After hearing author David Epstein speak on a radio show, I have added his book to my reading list. Epstein wrote Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World. It piqued my interest because I’ve always seen value in spending your time in multiple lanes as that way you don’t know which rules you’re not allowed to break. Creativity comes from connecting dots from far flung places and it’s hard to see those dots when you’re specializing in just one area. This, along with the fact that our young people will be working one day in jobs that don’t even exist yet. So how can you prepare? You can be a creative, critical thinker. Epstein talks about embracing trial and error in life in order to triangulate (almost like finding a given cell phone by comparing the pings off a number of towers) and figure out which signal suits you most. You find out where you belong by finding out where you don’t belong.
Epstein writes, “Whether chemists, physicists, or political scientists, the most successful problem solvers spend mental energy figuring out what type of problem they are facing before matching a strategy to it, rather than jumping in with memorized procedures.” He also states, “You have people walking around with all the knowledge of humanity on their phone, but they have no idea how to integrate it. We don’t train people in thinking or reasoning.”
It’s imperative to try things. Fail at endeavours. Take the lessons and course correct. Rather than making a 20-year-plan, maybe make a plan for the next little while. You will change and life will change and opportunities will change. Only after much evolution will you know who you are and what you love to do.
Many people mistake following your heart as knowing exactly what you want to do forever. But it’s more about knowing exactly what you can do to be true to you. Then see where it leads.
As a new school year starts for so many young people, may we remember the importance of the skills that don’t always get graded. And the lessons we learn when things don’t go as expected.