025-2019 Range

Title: Range – Why Generalists triumph in a specialized world

Author: David Epstein

I started with the synopsis of the book, and thought that this would be something different to the world of specialized individuals.

Have you ever heard that if you want to become really good at something (novice/semi-/professional) you need to put in at least 10,000 hours of training into that sport? This is where the book comes in and says that there is not one single-way to success.

In all chapters the author practically takes one scenario of someone that specialized, and one that took a slightly different route and both ended up having successful careers. And to showcase this, he started the first chapter with two well-known figureheads: Roger Federer and Tiger Woods.

He tells a short version of Tiger Woods’ story, where he specialized from a young age and focused all his attention on one sport: golf. Roger Federer, on the other hand, only focused on one sport (tennis) much later in his life, and before-hand took part in a few sports. The comparison between two athletes shows the powerful message the author wishes to portray: namely, that early specialization is not the only way to succeed in everything.

In fact, the author strongly supports the notion that we shouldn’t specialize from an early age, but that we should ‘sample’ a few years and then later on decide on the most favorable alternative and focus our full attention on that. He also brings out that in many cases, human beings change much during their lifetimes and that the specialized decisions we make for our future might actually not be a good idea for all matters, because the future self for whom we’re making a decision now, might not have the interests still in future.

  • Somewhat, I understand where he is coming from
  • However, for some decisions (university degree) it is not always possible to have a ‘sampling period’ because higher education is unfortunately expensive
  • Therefore, I do agree that we change a lot during our lifetimes, and that our interests change constantly, but one good choice might be a gap year, or a year/more working before we make a commitment to study to attain more independence and learn more of ourselves

Summary:

The comparisons between ‘early specialization’ and ‘sampling’ show an interesting perspective on the commonly accepted status quo of how triumph is achieved. It also shows that we should not be afraid to make a change in our lives when we have already specialized too much in our work, because it could sometimes lead to something better.

Also, it is more fun to have a broader knowledge of many things than too much of one thing. The rating I award for this book take a 4.3/5