'Fascinating . . . If you’re a generalist who has ever felt overshadowed by your specialist colleagues, this book is for you' – Bill Gates
The instant Sunday Times Top Ten and New York Times bestseller
Shortlisted for the Financial Times/McKinsey Business Book of the Year Award 2019
A Financial Times Essential Reads of 2019 pick
A powerful argument for how to succeed in any field: develop broad interests and skills while everyone around you is rushing to specialize.
From the ‘10,000 hours rule’ to the power of Tiger parenting, we have been taught that success in any field requires early specialization and many hours of deliberate practice. And, worse, that if you dabble or delay, you'll never catch up with those who got a head start.
This is completely wrong.
In this landmark book, David Epstein shows you that the way to succeed is by sampling widely, gaining a breadth of experiences, taking detours, experimenting relentlessly, juggling many interests – in other words, by developing range.
Studying the world's most successful athletes, artists, musicians, inventors and scientists, Epstein demonstrates why in most fields – especially those that are complex and unpredictable – generalists, not specialists are primed to excel. No matter what you do, where you are in life, whether you are a teacher, student, scientist, business analyst, parent, job hunter, retiree, you will see the world differently after you've read Range. You'll understand better how we solve problems, how we learn and how we succeed. You'll see why failing a test is the best way to learn and why frequent quitters end up with the most fulfilling careers.
As experts silo themselves further while computers master more of the skills once reserved for highly focused humans, Range shows how people who think broadly and embrace diverse experiences and perspectives will increasingly thrive and why spreading your knowledge across multiple domains is the key to your success, and how to achieve it.
'I loved Range' – Malcolm Gladwell
'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, bestselling author of Quiet
Journalist and self-identified generalist Epstein (The Sports Gene) delivers an enjoyable if not wholly convincing work of Gladwellian pop-psychology aimed at showing that specialization is not the only path to success. His survey finds no shortage of notable athletes, artists, inventors, and businesspeople who followed atypically circuitous paths. Some are household names, such as J.K. Rowling, who by her own admission "failed on an epic scale" before deciding to pursue writing, and Duke Ellington, who briefly studied music as a child before becoming more interested in basketball and drawing, only returning to music after a chance encounter with ragtime. Others are more obscure, such as Nintendo's Gunpei Yokoi, who turned his limitations as an electronics engineer to his advantage when he created the cheap-to-produce, durable Game Boy, and Jack Cecchini, "one of the rare musicians who is world class in both jazz and classical." Epstein's narrative case studies are fascinating, but the rapid-fire movement from one sketch to the next can create the impression of evidence in search of a thesis. While this well-crafted book does not entirely disprove the argument for expertise, Epstein does show that, for anyone without 10,000 hours to devote to mastering a single skill, there is hope yet.