True or false? To be successful at something, you must start at an early age, focus on it intensely, and practice for thousands of hours over many years. Investigative reporter and bestselling author David Epstein tackles this head on — and his conclusions may surprise you.
The Bottom Line
A compelling case for parents to encourage their children to explore many interests rather than putting a laser focus on just one.
Contemporary culture promotes the idea that the key to success is hyper specialization: Figure out what you’re good at at an early age, focus on it exclusively and put in hours of practice over many years. If you devote time to several pursuits, this argument holds, you can only hope to be pretty good at some of them. On the other hand, consider Tiger Woods: At the age of 2, his surprising natural talent earned him a spot on national television hitting golf balls with Bob Hope. And then there’s Mozart, who was performing public concerts by the age of 6.
With models like these, striving parents have anxiously searched to identify and promote their child’s unique talent. But now, with the New York Times bestseller Range, journalist David Epstein sets out to disprove the benefits of hyper-specialization. Not only does he offer counterexamples of so-called late bloomers — jazz great Duke Ellington, artist Vincent van Gogh and tennis champion Roger Federer — he also explains how specialization can actually hinder creativity and innovation.
II. “Range” and the Modern World
III. We’re Teaching Narrow Thinkers
IV. Fast and Easy Learning Fails in the Long Run
V. Mental Meandering Leads to Better Career Alignment
VI. The Hazards of a Narrow Expert Focus
VII. The Long and Winding Road — to Success
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