I completely agree with this view on mastery from American fashion designer, writer, television personality, entrepreneur, and occasional cabaret star Isaac Mizrahi:
I’m a person who’s interested in doing a bunch of things. It’s just what I like. I like it better than doing one thing over and over. This idea of mastery—of being the very best at just one thing—is not in my future. I don’t really care that much. I care about doing things that are interesting to me and that I don’t lose interest in.
Mastery – “being the very best at just one thing” – doesn’t hold much appeal for me. I’m a very curious person. I like jumping between various creative endeavors that “are interesting to me and that I don’t lose interest in.” Guitar, web design, coding, writing, hand lettering – these are just some of the creative paths I’ve gone down so far, and I know that list will continue to grow.
I’ve found that my understanding of one discipline fosters a deeper understanding of other disciplines. New skills don’t take away from each other – they only add.
So no, mastery isn’t for me. The more creative paths I go down, the better. Keep ‘em coming.
Quartz recently profiled Charlie Munger, Warren Buffett’s billionaire deputy, who credits his investing success to not mastering just 1 field — investment theory — but instead “mastering the multiple models which underlie reality.” In other words, Munger is an expert-generalist. The term was coined by Orit Gadiesh, chairman of Bain & Co, who describes an expert-generalist as:
Someone who has the ability and curiosity to master and collect expertise in many different disciplines, industries, skills, capabilities, countries, and topics., etc. He or she can then, without necessarily even realizing it, but often by design:
- Draw on that palette of diverse knowledge to recognize patterns and connect the dots across multiple areas.
- Drill deep to focus and perfect the thinking.
The article goes on to describe the strength of this strategy:
Being an expert-generalist allows individuals to quickly adapt to change. Research shows that they:
- See the world more accurately and make better predictions of the future because they are not as susceptible to the biases and assumptions prevailing in any given field or community.
- Have more breakthrough ideas, because they pull insights that already work in one area into ones where they haven’t been tried yet.
- Build deeper connections with people who are different than them because of understanding of their perspectives.
- Build more open networks, which allows them to serve as a connector between people in different groups. According to network science research, having an open network is the #1 predictor of career success.
All of this sounds exactly right. I had never thought about the benefits of being an expert-generalist, nor did I deliberately set out to be one (my natural curiosity got me here), but reading these descriptions gave form to something that previously felt intuitively true.
Read the full article here: https://qz.com/1179027/mental-models-how-warren-buffetts-billionaire-deputy-became-an-expert-generalist/