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Range

Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World
Written by: David Epstein
Narrated by: Will Damron
Length: 10 hrs and 17 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (15 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

“Urgent and important...an essential read for bosses, parents, coaches, and anyone who cares about improving performance.” (Daniel H. Pink)

“So much crucial and revelatory information about performance, success, and education.” (Susan Cain, best-selling author of Quiet)

A powerful argument for how to succeed in any field: develop broad interests and skills while everyone around you is rushing to specialize.

Plenty of experts argue that anyone who wants to develop a skill, play an instrument, or lead their field should start early, focus intensely, and rack up as many hours of deliberate practice as possible. If you dabble or delay, you’ll never catch up to the people who got a head start. But a closer look at research on the world’s top performers, from professional athletes to Nobel laureates, shows that early specialization is the exception, not the rule.

David Epstein examined the world’s most successful athletes, artists, musicians, inventors, forecasters, and scientists. He discovered that in most fields - especially those that are complex and unpredictable - generalists, not specialists, are primed to excel. Generalists often find their path late, and they juggle many interests rather than focusing on one. They’re also more creative, more agile, and able to make connections their more specialized peers can’t see.

Provocative, rigorous, and engrossing, Range makes a compelling case for actively cultivating inefficiency. Failing a test is the best way to learn. Frequent quitters end up with the most fulfilling careers. The most impactful inventors cross domains rather than deepening their knowledge in a single area. As experts silo themselves further while computers master more of the skills once reserved for highly focused humans, people who think broadly and embrace diverse experiences and perspectives will increasingly thrive.

©2019 David Epstein (P)2019 Penguin Audio

What the critics say

“For reasons I cannot explain, David Epstein manages to make me thoroughly enjoy the experience of being told that everything I thought about something was wrong. I loved Range.” (Malcolm Gladwell, author of Outliers and The Tipping Point)

“For too long, we’ve believed in a single path to excellence. Start early, specialize soon, narrow your focus, aim for efficiency. But in this groundbreaking book, David Epstein shows that in most domains, the way to excel is something altogether different. Sample widely, gain a breadth of experiences, take detours, and experiment relentlessly. Epstein is a deft writer, equally nimble at telling a great story and unpacking complicated science. And Range is an urgent and important book, an essential read for bosses, parents, coaches, and anyone who cares about improving performance.” (Daniel H. Pink, author of When, Drive, and A Whole New Mind)

“In a world that’s increasingly obsessed with specialization, star science writer David Epstein is here to convince you that the future may belong to generalists. It’s a captivating read that will leave you questioning the next steps in your career - and the way you raise your children.” (Adam Grant, author of Give and Take and Originals)

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Mind opening

Really great book. could not put it down. loved all the different examples it provided.

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Great ideas, great stories.

As someone who works in a field that promotes specialization but is in desperate need of innovation this provides ammunition to push for more diversity in the workplace.

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thought-provoking. Easy Read

a really fun and wide "ranging" read that goes from Roger Federer and Tiger Woods to NASA and Girl Guide leaders. Great insights, new eeseatch, and his conclusion about it "not being too late" ti create range, should be heeded

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  • anon.
  • 2019-06-07

If you're highly curious, read this

Who will like this book
* If your friends would describe you as highly curious, you’ll like this book
* If you’re an investor, a business owner, a researcher, a scientist, a musician, a writer, a director, an athlete, or really anyone dealing with complex questions or seeking world-class achievement, you’ll like this book
* If you care about doing the most good for the world and maximizing your positive impact on the world, you’ll like this book
* If you’ve thought about how to increase innovation and problem solving in the world, you’ll like this book
* If you’ve thought about what makes great inventors or innovators great, and how to identify and encourage world-class talent, you’ll like this book
* If you like books like “Sapiens,” “Poor Charlie’s Almanack,” “Elephant in the Brain,” “Principles,” you’ll like this book
* If you have ADHD, you’ll like this book
* If your job or passion involves trying to accurately forecast the future, you’ll like this book

The benefits you’ll get from this book
* You’ll see how to achieve more, professionally
* You’ll understand the ways your understanding of the 10,000 Hour rule has been wrong
* You’ll better understand the path to world-class achievement
* You’ll better understand how to spot potential world-class achievers
* You’ll better understand how to forecast the future
* You’ll better understand how to solve complex challenges where the answers aren’t obvious, both in your work and personal life

Conclusion
If you think that you'll benefit from it based on my above notes, I recommend buying it. If you're on the fence, listen to interviews with the author either on the "Invest Like The Best" or the "Econtalk" podcasts to get a better sense.

After you read it
Search YouTube and watch the talk called “Greatness Cannot Be Planned.” It extends the ideas from this book in a brilliant way.
If you like the Greatness Cannot Be Planned, then you’ll also enjoy the following books: “So Good They Can’t Ignore You,” “Where Good Ideas Come From,” and the chapter on the evolution of technology from “The Evolution of Everything.”
Also search google for the blog post “Focus May Be Your Worst Enemy in Biotech R&D” — it also resonates with the ideas from this book.

P.S. If you’re a curious person, and you probably are because you’re looking at books and reading the reviews, definitely get this book!
P.P.S. This book is the next “Sapiens.”

17 of 18 people found this review helpful

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  • ST
  • 2019-06-05

I wish I had this book 10 years ago

Having been raised, and currently living, in an environment dominated by the philosophy of “Grit” and the “10,000 hour rule”, this book is a refreshing look at those who have thrived on the other end of that spectrum. I wish this book was written 10 years ago; it would have saved me a lot of time and grief.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Brian Tudor
  • Cincinnat, OH
  • 2019-06-06

Generally Speaking…

As someone who has a vast amount of hobbies and interests I found Range to be a very well informed look at the idealized nature of success based on having a wealth of experience to draw upon. Epstein is a wonderful writer whom I have enjoyed since his time at Sports Illustrated and Will Damron did a great job narrating the book. If you are someone in a field where innovation is the order of the day this book is for you. If you work in HR, Management, or College admissions, this is the book for you. Understanding how to look at all the salient data points to see the full story of a problem, product, or most importantly a person is broken down in Range to help you find the most successful teams in the last place you'd think to look.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Viajero
  • USA & Abroad
  • 2019-06-24

Best damn book of the year!

This book brought home a concept I’ve seen play out time and again - reminding me of Special Forces prior to 9-11 when each man started in a specialty and then cross trained with teammates of different specialties. Moving on to various languages, cultural immersion and learning esoteric skills.

This book is likely useful for many parents caught in the hyper specialization paradigm; to take a breath and put some exploration into the process.

I’m going to listen to it again this week - too many gems in this one - great job Epstein!

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  • Solomon Mcharo
  • 2019-06-23

Great Book

What a great book, learnt a lot of new things and gained a new perspective of myself and life in general.

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  • bargainseeker
  • Brazil
  • 2019-06-21

Interesting

Interesting content, but falls short of proving the case that one is better off embracing being a generalist today to "triumph" (present tense) as the subtitle suggests. It rather makes an interesting case as to why generalists should be more valued than they currently are.

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  • Aaron Chang
  • 2019-06-21

Awesome

One of the best books, for the times. In depth research that goes several layers deeper than the usual anecdotes. Made me think and reflect.

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  • trdr
  • 2019-06-20

Tinkering is the new 10000hours

This is an excellent account of how the 10000hours ”rule” should be if not avoided at least discounted in place of broadening your horizons and trying out a lot of different unconnected stuff and you might end up ahead of a lot of your peers irrespective of in what career you land. Great writing and very interesting research which touch on Talebs and Gigerenzers works but uniquely displayed.

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  • Christopher C Perkins
  • 2019-06-18

amazing and exciting worth the listen

great research and supporting stories I am buying the paper copy now for easy reference it was so good.

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  • George B. Freebersyser
  • Raleigh, NC, USA
  • 2019-06-15

Range is counter-intuitional common sense

As a coach who interacts with youth sports, training coaches & athletes and, who also coached at the collegiate level , I think Epstein's research is a welcome antidote to narrowly focused decision-making and assumptions, especially by parents who, in the end, would prefer healthy adults as the chosen outcome for their kids. But, I also see the value of understanding range and applying it for those who are older, maybe especially in this time of rapid changes. This book complements Burnett & Evans' "Designing Your Life" book and I look forward to recommending it to those with whom I work.