Tuesday, May 28, 2019

"Range". by David Esptein, argues that generalists can do very well in public life

If you’re going to be professional at something and get public recognition for it, do you have to be a prodigy and start early and focus on it from childhood?

According to a New York Times book review by Jim Holt, David Epstein says, not necessarily, in his new book “Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World”, published by Riverhead Books.

The idea is that learning environments can be kind, or brutal.  Classical music performance tends to be a kind environment that rewards starting early and sticking with it. Composing may be more nuanced, and some modern composers are quite versatile with their skills:  Jaron Lanier (“You Are Not a Gadget”, and “10 Arguments for Deleting your Social Media Accounts Right Now”), well known for large, eclectic compositions (Plays blog, June 19, 2013), is quite versatile with tech for its own sake (as are many other musicians).

The review compares the careers of Tiger Woods (golf) with Roger Federer (tennis), the latter of which is more compatible with generalism.  Medicine is said to be so, despite the fact that interns and residents have to live such unifocal existence.
My own case with piano was a narrow miss. It was not easy for boys to consider this in the Cold War obsessed 1950s and early 1960s. I had an audition in a ritzy NW Washington apartment building with a Dr. Hughes, who was 72 at the time, when I was about 15, for a piano career.  It was indeed close. 

I wound up with a double life, where mainframe information technology rather dead-ended itself after 2000 as a real career field that creates a professional identity. 
Chess requires real focus from early in life to get really good (at least International Master or higher). 

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