Be a generalist.. and a stoic

expert generalist

I believe that Stoicism is a fascinating and valuable field of study for any leader. I’ve written about it a number of times, including this post.

I also have on my reading list the book Range by David Epstein , so today happy to link to an interview he gave for the Daily Stoic on “On Philosophy, Accepting Obstacles, and Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World

A snippet from that interview:

We miss out on wisdom if we’re too narrow…Specialists become so narrow that they actually start developing worse judgment about the world as they accumulate knowledge…Breadth of training predicts breadth of transfer. Transfer is your ability to take knowledge and skills and apply them to a problem or situation you have not seen before. And your ability to do that is predicted by the variety of situations you’ve faced…As you get more variety, you’re forced to form these broader conceptual models (in the classroom setting called “making connections” knowledge), which you can then wield flexibly in new situations.

I used to say “my specialism is that I’m a generalist”, so I totally align with this.

Epstein refers to breadth of training. I feel even that is too narrow, how about breadth of listening to music? reading books? the friends and colleagues you choose to spend time with listening and sharing?

I hope you find this daily blog is suitably eclectic to be part of that breadth for you.

For now, I leave you with a link to an earlier post: “Synthesising ideas – who inspires you?”  in which I share some writers over history that I have read and inspire me to synthesise ideas, to make connections as Epstein puts it.

Oh, and I also recently wrote: “Intelligence is both Fluid and Crystallised“. Crystallised intelligence “is the ability to use knowledge gained in the past. Think of it as possessing a vast library and understanding how to use it. It is the essence of wisdom.”.

In order to synthesise new ideas from that crystallised knowledge, read and learn both deep and wide. Be a generalist and learn all kinds of things, including stoicism, if I may make that suggestion!


Also published on Medium.

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