Mailbag: "Narrow in service of broad or deep"

Philip Morgan

Fred Ross sent a really interesting reply to /pmc-narrow-in-service-of-broad-or-deep/:

_So I'm one of the mythical polymaths, and my take on this is that there is no dichotomy between specialist and polymath.__I was a physicist, a statistician, a microbiologist, a software engineer (this is what I am at the moment), a novelist, a semipro violinist, I could pay the bills as a cook if I need to, I can do landscaping, typesetting and layout, or teach martial arts or dancing. And there's an important point that everyone seems to miss about me and the other polymaths I know (and I do know several more): we didn't do it all at once. At any given point in time we're specialists. We just have this long trail of previous specializations that we reached a fairly high level in that we can draw on. They're rusty, but a rusty professional is still not half bad for most cases.__The dichotomy is between "focus" and "distracted by shiny objects."_That being said, what you are specialized in may not nicely match someone's existing categories, which can make you look like a polymath when you just happen to be pursuing something that twists and winds in a way that drags you across the accepted discipline boundaries.

Thanks so much for sharing this, Fred. Extremely well said.To repeat for emphasis: The dichotomy is between "focus" and "distracted by shiny objects."Remember that the deepest discount I offer on my books is available from now until the end of the year.I call it my "tax write-off" sale, because you most likely can claim the book(s) as a business expense.From now until until the end of this year you can get 30% off both The Positioning Manual ( and Specializing Without Failure ( use the code TAXWRITEOFF when you check out to get the discount. Do it before the stroke of midnight Pacific time on December 31, cause that's when this offer expires.-P