Range - David Epstein

Why Generalists Triumpth in a Specialized World

The Cult of the Head Start

Kind learning environments are those where patterns repeat over and over, and feedback is extremely accurate and quick. As a result, deliberate practice helps us become better in domains like chess or most sports. These activities have rules - there are finite patterns that can be identified.

Tactics: short-term combination of actions that can give us an advantage (pattern identification)

Strategy: long-term, bigger-picture planning

Susan Polgar, a chess grandmaster, could recognize common chess board situations easily and quickly, and recreate the board from memory. She could not repeat this exercise with boards that would never occur in professional play.

The bigger the picture, the more unique the potential human contribution.

Cognitive entrenchment: a phenomenon whereby rules of a domain or activity are slightly altered, and experts perform worse than amateurs or those with less experience in that domain. Creative achievers tend to have broad interests.

Successful adapters were excellent at taking knowledge from one pursuit and applying it creatively to another, and at avoiding cognitive entrenchment.

Summary: in the real world, there are no defined rules. When there are defined rules, specialization and deliberate practice shines. But when there are not, they come up short.