Book notes: Range

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·Aug 23, 2021·

2 min read

Range By David Epstein


  • Having a breadth of experience can help lead to a more successful life

  • It's commonly believed that specializing in one field from an early age, focusing on deliberate practice to hone skills, is the optimal path to success. Epstein argues the (equal) importance of a different approach which is generalizing, trying out different domains

In a "kind" learning environment, there are clear repetitive patterns and feedback is immediate and accurate (i.e. Chess and golf). The learner tries to improve in the activity repeating and practicing.

In a "wicked" learning environment, there may or may not be patterns, and feedback may be delayed or inaccurate. Having narrow experience would not be helpful in these domains.

We must be "taught to think before being taught what to think about.”

Analogical thinking–taking learning and experience from one domain, and applying it to another–allows us to reason through problems that we haven't seen before.

Studies show the importance of what psychologists call a sampling period, early on, where the individual tries different activities . This can be followed by a narrowing of focus later.

Deep learning is slow. It seems counterintuitive, but progress is made slowly for complex skills.

Match quality is the degree of fit between the work someone does and who they are. Our work preferences and our life preferences do not stay the same because we do not stay the same. You should be willing to learn and adjust as you go. If needed, move to different domains and change directions; the experience is not wasted.

“The bigger the picture, the more unique the potential human contribution. Our greatest strength is the exact opposite of narrow specialization. It is the ability to integrate broadly.“

"Compare yourself to yourself yesterday, not to younger people who aren’t you."

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