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Late specialisation as a key to success and four months left to accomplish your New Year's resolutions

„Most people treat the present moment as if it were an obstacle that they need to overcome. Since the present moment is life itself, it is an insane way to live.“ - Eckhart Tolle

David Luescher
2 min read

An idea for you to consider

What do Mark Zuckerburg and Tiger Woods have in common?

They’re both extremely successful in their respective domain and representatives of people who specialised early on in life. Tiger Woods was little over 10 months old when he held a golf club in his hand for the first time. Mark Zuckerberg started coding when he was eight years old. Both Mark and Tiger symbolise the idea of grit, talent is overrated, and the 10’000 hours rule like few others on this planet.

You might feel a bit disillusioned now and get the impression that your chances of success wane if you didn't start practicing an activity as early as the two gentlemen did. However, research shows that early and narrow specialisation in both sports and business rarely produces outliers.

Researchers discovered that late Specialisation is more often the key to success.

No other than our beloved Roger Federer symbolises this idea better. Roger was involved in sport activities ranging from squash, basketball, badminton, skiing, swimming, handball, soccer and… tennis. There was no push to focus early and narrowly. Federer started focusing on tennis at a time, when his peers were already working together with strength and nutrition coaches for a while. It goes without saying that Roger remains one of the most successful tennis players to this day and that his somewhat late entry into the party has not harmed his success.

Late Specialisation can be summarised as delaying specialisation in favour of a period of sampling to gain breadth.

Maybe you once studied at university and quit after a semester to pursue a different degree? Or you started your first job in banking, moved on to working in the energy industry in a different role, and went on to work for a human rights NGO in the end? Congrats, looks like you intuitively applied late specialisation.

The idea of late specialisation is powerful, especially for people with broad interests. If you’re a bit like me, then you probably feel awful for having a ton of interests and feel at times a bit like a misfit in a world which incentives hyper-specialisation.

Instead of wondering whether you got this whole career thing wrong, I would like you to consider late specialisation and to allow yourself to experiment.

You might end up not only more successful in the traditional sense, but ultimately have the chance to find work which better suits your skills and personality and that in return can contribute to your perceived fulfilment in life.

(Source of the idea: "Range. Why generalists triumph in a specialised world" by David Epstein.)


Three questions for you

September 1 is the beginning of the last third of the current year.

  1. Did you set New Years resolutions for 2022?
  2. If yes, what went well and what did you learn?
  3. How can you use your time during the remaining four months of this year to move a step closer to your goals?

A quote for you to ponder

„Most people treat the present moment as if it were an obstacle that they need to overcome. Since the present moment is life itself, it is an insane way to live.“ - Eckhart Tolle
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