The Power of Range – 3 Reasons It’s Important to Try Many Different Things
You’ve probably heard that if you want to become really good at something, and to live a prosperous and thriving life, one of the best things you can do is to identify your trade as early as possible and to spend more or less all of your time working obsessively to develop it.
In his recent book, “Range,” however, David Epstein makes a completely different argument – instead suggesting that success and prosperity in life often correlate much more strongly with a varied set of interests, hobbies, and even careers.
In our everyday interactions, we can often see how a range of experience can be beneficial. Personal injury lawyers who are experts in personal injury matters, for example, can do us a lot of good – but those who have experience in working “on the other side,” on the behalf of insurance companies – such as is the case with Van Sant Law – may well have an extra degree of insight that can make all the difference.
So, here’s a look into the power of “range,” and why it’s important to try many different things over the course of your life.
Because creativity often comes from “outside”
In “Range,” the author looks at various examples of how serious problems and stumbling blocks that have afflicted different groups and industries – and even high-level scientists – were resolved almost “accidentally” by people from entirely different disciplines, and with entirely different frames of reference.
There seems to be a good deal of evidence that when we are too locked into viewing things in a certain way, we all too easily miss potential solutions that fall outside of that framework.
Or, in other words, when the only tool you have is a hammer, everything starts to look like a nail.
Creativity in general – and creative problem-solving in particular – can be greatly aided by a broad range of different interests and experiences.
The more “lenses” you have at your disposal for viewing the world through, the greater the odds you will spot things that other people would have missed.
Because life is way more interesting and enjoyable when it’s varied and well-balanced
Let’s face it, very few people actually have the temperament required to focus almost all of their time exclusively on one thing, for the vast majority of their lives.
Research apparently shows that scientists who win Nobel prizes are much more likely than their peers to have a broad range of interests and hobbies outside of their professional lives, and at the very least, you’ve got to imagine that this makes their lives a bit more interesting.
As human beings, we are all shaped by nature to seek out novel experiences, and to look for ways to improve our particular situations and explore new vistas of opportunity.
Therefore, it’s easy to see how forcing yourself into one narrow lane of experience could end up not just becoming boring, but even deadening, and depressing.
When all is said and done, life is way more interesting and enjoyable when it’s varied and well-balanced. Do a lot of different things, have new experiences, and try different hobbies. If nothing else, you’ll end up with a good variety of interesting tales to tell as a result.
Because your health and mental function will benefit
In his book, “The Brain That Changes Itself,” the psychologist Norman Doidge explores many different aspects of “neuroplasticity” – or, in other words, the ability of the brain to change and restructure itself throughout our lives.
At one point, Doidge investigates the example of an elderly man who displayed remarkably good mental health and cognitive clarity for his age. The man in question reported that he made a point of always having active hobbies to invest himself in, and changed them up routinely after a year or two each.
Research backs up the idea that constantly learning new skills, and accumulating new batches of information, leads to a mind that is “fitter,” more flexible, and healthier, even into old age.
Suffice to say, when you’re doing things that you find interesting, and your mind is functioning to a high degree, you’re much likelier to feel your best and to enjoy a positive mood as your default state of being.
And as the old Roman saying goes, “a sound mind in a sound body.” When you feel good, and sharp-minded, your overall health is likely to be significantly better, too.
This isn’t just relevant in old age, either. Many of us worry about staying mentally sharp in the here and now to perform to the best of our ability at our jobs. Keeping a varied set of interests may help with that.