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Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a…
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Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World (edition 2019)

by David Epstein (Author)

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8632719,382 (4.1)9
"David Epstein manages to make me thoroughly enjoy the experience of being told that everything I thought about something was wrong. I loved Range." Malcolm Gladwell, bestselling author of Outliers.Range is the ground-breaking and exhilarating New York Times bestselling exploration into how to be successful in the 21st Century, from David Epstein the acclaimed author of The Sports Gene.What if everything you have been taught about how to succeed in life was wrong? From the '10,000 hours rule' to the power of Tiger parenting, we have been taught that success in any field requires early specialization and many hours of deliberate practice. And, worse, that if you dabble or delay, you'll never catch up with those who got a head start. This is completely wrong.In this landmark book, David Epstein shows that the way to excel is by sampling widely, gaining a breadth of experiences, taking detours, experimenting relentlessly, juggling many interests - in other words, by developing range.Studying the world's most successful athletes, artists, musicians, inventors, and scientists Epstein discovered that in most fields - especially those that are complex and unpredictable - generalists, not specialists, are primed to excel. They are also more creative, more agile, and able to make connections their more specialized peers can't see. Range proves that by spreading your knowledge across multiple domains is the key to success rather than deepening their knowledge in a single area. Provocative, rigorous, and engrossing, Range explains how to maintain the benefits of breadth, diverse experience and interdisciplinary thinking in a world that increasingly demands, hyper-specialization.PRAISE FOR RANGE"I want to give Range to any kid who is being forced to take violin lessons-but really wants to learn the drums; to any programmer who secretly dreams of becoming a psychologist; to everyone who wants humans to thrive in an age of robots. Range is full of surprises and hope, a 21st century survival guide." Amanda Ripley, author of The Smartest Kids in the World. "An assiduously researched and accessible argument for being a jack of all trades." O Magazine, Best Nonfiction Books Coming in 2019 "Brilliant, timely, and utterly impossible to put down. If you care about improving skill, innovation, and performance, you need to read this book." Daniel Coyle, author of The Culture Code and The Talent Code "A fresh, brisk look at creativity, learning, and the meaning of achievement." Kirkus Reviews "It's a joy to spend hours in the company of a writer as gifted as David Epstein. And the joy is all the greater when that writer shares so much crucial and revelatory information about performance, success, and education." Susan Cain, author of Quiet… (more)
Member:jdoshna
Title:Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World
Authors:David Epstein (Author)
Info:Riverhead Books (2019), 352 pages
Collections:Your library
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Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World by David Epstein

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Showing 1-5 of 27 (next | show all)
Finally finished this one. A bit meandering, though considering the topic (don’t specialize but learn and connect with lots of different subjects to be innovative, creative, and a true expert), the book takes on the idea that early specialization is helpful. While the book a makes a lot of good points and has a lot of examples, I was disappointed in how it seems to set up Grit as a straw person. One only needs to read the first chapter of that book to recognize how Duckworth herself and her model fit into Epstein’s discussion.
And now that I read the afterword of the paperback, I see that he recognized this himself ( )
  WiebkeK | Nov 26, 2021 |
I was glad to read this book as it reinforced my belief that the more you know and the wider that your experience or education are, the more valuable you will be in your career and in your life. There are specific occupations where speciality training is critical: doctors, nurses, dentists, architects attorneys, scientists, and researchers to name a few. In business, for example, generalists have performed well. The book cites Roger Federer's path to tennis greatness that included participation in a variety of other sports and interests before he settled on tennis. Van Gogh's career path was also circuitous before he settled down to become a renowned painter.

I skimmed through much of the book. The author provided plenty of examples of a variety of people with different career paths who experimented with different jobs before they settled into a job they felt was rewarding and used their past experiences to contribute to their success.

Notes from the book:

I encountered remarkable individuals who succeeded not in spite of their range of experiences interests but because of it…

Do specialists get better with experience, or not?

The ability to apply knowledge broadly comes from broad training.

Even the best universities aren't developing critical intelligence…They aren't giving students the tools to analyze the modern world, except in their area of specialization. Their education is too narrow.

Three quarters of college graduates go on to careers unrelated to their majors.

Sunk cost fallacy-having invested time or money in something, one is loath to leave it.

Seth Godin, author of some of the most popular career writing in the world, wrote a book disparaging the idea that "quitters never win."Godin argued that winners--he generally meant individuals who reach the apex of their domain––quit fast and often when they detect when a plan is not the best fit, and do not feel bad about it. We fail, he wrote, "when we stick with tasks we don't have the guts to quit."
( )
  writemoves | Oct 26, 2021 |
The chapters, largely, present good info that supports the main idea of the chapters. The stories are intriguing.

However, I'm not sure that the overarching theme of the book was proven.

Read it. And tell me what you think. It's definitely an enjoyable book. ( )
  OutOfTheBestBooks | Sep 24, 2021 |
The central hypothesis of Range is that people who have diverse experiences with problem-solving in many domains tend to solve problems more effectively in any one domain. Exposure to a range of experiences, rather than hyper-focusing on a single domain of expertise, leads to faster, deeper, and more transferrable learning in most domains. The book charts this path mostly through socially valued achievements: sports, music, technological invention, and scientific discovery.

The author divides the world into "kind" and "wicked" learning environments. Kind environments are highly structured (and tend to be contrived or designed) and present consistent feedback. Wicked learning environments are the opposite. These are the recurring themes that situate the biographical narratives that make up most of the chapters. Nearly every lesson is presented through a biographical slice. It does a good job of dispelling the sense of the mythic people in the western canon as being somehow predisposed as such due to some intrinsic property the happened to have.

Reading this pop social science as a learning scientist interested in the philosophy of social science is challenging but heartening. The author does his best to explain concepts in learning science without getting too far into the philosophical weeds. The book is willing to take the time to investigate newer constructs like "grit" without portraying those concepts as anything beyond a construct. (Though I may be giving the book too much credit.) It takes the time to explicate the limitations of these constructs and explore criticisms without limiting those criticisms to a personal narrative, something many pop science books tend to do. However, It doesn't do this with discussions of IQ and the Flynn effect. It leaves out most bog-standard criticisms of IQ—that it privileges western concepts, that the Ravens test privileges visual modalities, people who live in houses, &c—and treats IQ as a thing that exists in the world. This tendency towards objectivism continues in more insidious ways.

Sadly, the book descends into viewing all its psychology from the lens of economics. Here is where the line between self help book and pop science book starts to fade and in many places gets crossed, sometimes without saying so. The book presents a compelling argument for cultivating a diversity of experiences and domains of study, but does so by explicating how those things lead to more social status and more money. It does the thing I hate, that most pop science and self-help books do these days, which is that it confounds success for money or power. Pretty much every appeal to a positive value finds that value as being a part of a promotion at your job, increasing your attractiveness, getting a new job, increasing influence (always generally or through these other named factors), or ranking higher in some ordinal quantification of some domain. The book almost never gestures towards the values of making a world that is more just, that seeks to lower inequity and suffering, to treat people as ends themselves, or to understand and empathize with people who are different from you or the social norms of their society. It operationalizes value through patent counts, prizes, income, employee/direct report quantity, and fame.

I would recommend this book to pretty much anyone, as it is an antidote to the impetus towards hyper-specialization and the feeling of being behind in your education, profession, or area of interest. It __will__ make you feel better about the diversity of your experiences and your nontraditional background. But keep in mind the way it talks about and uses values, and the way it tries to situate this sense of diversity.
  jtth | Aug 17, 2021 |
The perfect book for anyone who has ever been annoyed that they didn't spend enough time doing just one thing. A delightful rebuttal to the "10,000 hours" theory of mastery, well supported by all lots of research and case studies. ( )
  JohnNienart | Jul 11, 2021 |
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» Add other authors (7 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
David Epsteinprimary authorall editionscalculated
Damron, WillNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Garruzzo, CassandraDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Young, CourtneyEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
And he refused to specialize in anything, preferring to keep an eye on the overall estate rather than any of its parts. . . . And Nikolay’s management produced the most brilliant results.

—Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace

No tool is omnicompetent. There is no such thing as a master-key that will unlock all doors.

—Arnold Toynbee, A Study of History
Dedication
For Elizabeth,

this one and any other one
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Let's start with a couple of stories from the world of sports. (Introduction)
One year and four days after World War II in Europe ended in unconditional surrender, Laszlo Polgar was born in a small town in Hungary—the seed of a new family. (Chapter 1)
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"David Epstein manages to make me thoroughly enjoy the experience of being told that everything I thought about something was wrong. I loved Range." Malcolm Gladwell, bestselling author of Outliers.Range is the ground-breaking and exhilarating New York Times bestselling exploration into how to be successful in the 21st Century, from David Epstein the acclaimed author of The Sports Gene.What if everything you have been taught about how to succeed in life was wrong? From the '10,000 hours rule' to the power of Tiger parenting, we have been taught that success in any field requires early specialization and many hours of deliberate practice. And, worse, that if you dabble or delay, you'll never catch up with those who got a head start. This is completely wrong.In this landmark book, David Epstein shows that the way to excel is by sampling widely, gaining a breadth of experiences, taking detours, experimenting relentlessly, juggling many interests - in other words, by developing range.Studying the world's most successful athletes, artists, musicians, inventors, and scientists Epstein discovered that in most fields - especially those that are complex and unpredictable - generalists, not specialists, are primed to excel. They are also more creative, more agile, and able to make connections their more specialized peers can't see. Range proves that by spreading your knowledge across multiple domains is the key to success rather than deepening their knowledge in a single area. Provocative, rigorous, and engrossing, Range explains how to maintain the benefits of breadth, diverse experience and interdisciplinary thinking in a world that increasingly demands, hyper-specialization.PRAISE FOR RANGE"I want to give Range to any kid who is being forced to take violin lessons-but really wants to learn the drums; to any programmer who secretly dreams of becoming a psychologist; to everyone who wants humans to thrive in an age of robots. Range is full of surprises and hope, a 21st century survival guide." Amanda Ripley, author of The Smartest Kids in the World. "An assiduously researched and accessible argument for being a jack of all trades." O Magazine, Best Nonfiction Books Coming in 2019 "Brilliant, timely, and utterly impossible to put down. If you care about improving skill, innovation, and performance, you need to read this book." Daniel Coyle, author of The Culture Code and The Talent Code "A fresh, brisk look at creativity, learning, and the meaning of achievement." Kirkus Reviews "It's a joy to spend hours in the company of a writer as gifted as David Epstein. And the joy is all the greater when that writer shares so much crucial and revelatory information about performance, success, and education." Susan Cain, author of Quiet

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