Lifelong Learning, Range, Being a "Deliberate Amateur"

Lifelong Learning, Range, Being a "Deliberate Amateur"
Photo by The Ride Academy on Unsplash

I finally got round to finishing Range. One of my best books.

Here are some ideas from my favorite chapter, "Deliberate Amateur" which strongly resonated as I consider myself a life long learner, along with some final learnings.


It’s often that we see the word amateur being used in a denigrating fashion, or told that one needs to stick in a particular ‘lane’.

“The word amateur did not originate as an insult, but comes from the Latin word for a person who adores a particular endeavour. A paradox of innovation and mastery is that breakthroughs often occur when you start down a road, but wander off for a ways and pretend as if you have just began”

While one must respect deep domain expertise, the ‘stick in your lane’ mindset doesn’t quite work for collaboration and innovation:

“Human Creativity is basically an import/export business of ideas. New collaborations allow creators to take ideas that are conventions in one area and bring them into a new area where they are suddenly seen as invention” - Brian Uzzi

On having a growth mindset and personal development:

Don’t feel behind. Compare yourself to yourself yesterday, not to younger people who aren’t you. Everyone progresses at a different rate, so don’t let anyone make you feel left behind.

One of my favorite:

"Success in the knowledge economy comes to those who know themselves - their strengths, their values, and how they best performs" - Peter Drucker

On specialist (vs generalist.. and range), lest I come across as anti-specialist :/, there is nothing inherently wrong with specialization - as we all specialize to one point. Don’t do it too early,  when many don’t know what they should be specializing in.

Moving from one area of work (or domain) to another is never a waste (though to some it may feel like you wasted a few years).

This saying is however truncated early:

A jack of all trades is a master of none….. but often times better than a master of one.

On grit, a work ethic and the idea of people who don't seem to 'focus' on a particular pursuit:

Specialization has benefits, but before specialization comes sampling, the exploration of possibilities that, really, you cannot know anything about until you try them.
Don’t confuse the healthy development of a work ethic with the premature commitment to a singular ‘Passion’ - Angela Duckworth (who popularized grit)
“When you get fit, it will look like grit. That is, if you help someone find a good fit, they are more likely to display the characteristics of grit - like sticking with something - even if they didn’t before”

On General education vs ‘Career Focused' education:

Sometimes the actions that provide a head-start harm long term development:

“People who go narrow, career-focused education were also more likely to be employed right out of school and earn more right away, but over time, both advantages evaporated; decades later, they had spent less overall time in the labour market and had lower lifetime earnings.

Those with general education are more adaptable to changed economic demands.

(I wonder how well this translates in KE and similar countries)

Finally: Range and parenting:

“a variety of pathways to fit a variety of circumstances”
Expose children to an array of activities and see what happens to light their fire.

(Again, I wonder how well this translates in KE and similar countries)

Generally - try new things (i.e. experiment), find what stimulates you, and interests you.