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  • Writer's pictureStephen Eiting

The Power of Generalism: An Insightful Review of David Epstein's "Range"

This is a little different than my usual blogs, but I recently read an insightful book that I couldn't wait to share with you all. The book is "Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World" by David Epstein.

"Range" is a well-researched and thought-provoking book that challenges the popular notion that success and expertise come from intense specialization. The author, David Epstein, argues that generalists, who have a broad range of experiences and knowledge, are better equipped to succeed in today's rapidly changing world.

Epstein cites numerous studies and real-world examples to support his thesis, including the careers of accomplished individuals like Leonardo da Vinci and Benjamin Franklin. He also explains why the benefits of generalism are more pronounced in complex, unpredictable fields like medicine, where a wide range of knowledge can lead to better diagnoses and treatments.

In today's fast-paced and ever-changing world, technology is constantly advancing and evolving. This means that those who specialize in a particular technology may find themselves left behind as it becomes outdated or replaced by newer, more advanced technologies. However, the same principles outlined in "Range" can be applied to technology. Just like in other fields, generalists who have a broad range of knowledge and experience across different technologies are more likely to adapt and succeed in this dynamic environment.

One of the key takeaways from the book is that it's not necessary to choose between being a generalist or a specialist; it's possible to have the best of both worlds. Epstein explains how individuals can build range through cross-training, exposure to diverse perspectives, and the ability to learn from failure.

For example, a software engineer who has experience in multiple programming languages, technologies, and platforms will be better equipped to transition to new technologies as they emerge, compared to a specialist who only knows one language or platform. By staying flexible and continuously learning, generalists in technology can better navigate the rapid changes and remain relevant in their field.

Overall, "Range" is a must-read for anyone who wants to succeed in today's rapidly changing world. It offers a refreshing perspective on the value of generalism and provides practical insights into how to build range and achieve success. Whether you're just starting your career or looking to pivot in a new direction, this book is a great resource.


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