This is an interesting paradox.
The usual recommendation to succeed in life is focus, focus, focus. Set your goal, concentrate and persevere. Interestingly, the more you focus on a specific activity, the more disposable you will be. Machines excel of well-defined, domain-restricted activities.
A few months ago, writing for the guardian, George Monbiot asked precisely this question:
In the future, if you want a job, you must be as unlike a machine as possible: creative, critical and socially skilled. So why are children being taught to behave like machines?
So, it is very refreshing to find someone swimming against the tide, to make the case for the polymath. Robert Twigger argues that while our age reveres the specialist, humans are natural polymaths. We are at our best when we turn our minds to many things. Even if you are planning to follow the robot pathway and focus, focus, focus, please do yourself a favour and read this. If the worst comes to the worst and robots become our lords, at least you will be able to take it with a pinch of salt.
We hear the descriptive words psychopath and sociopath all the time, but here’s a new one: monopath (…) The monopathic model derives some of its credibility from its success in business (…)
There is often something rather obvious about people with narrow interests — they are bores, and bores always lack a sense of humour. They just don’t see that it’s absurd to devote your life to a tiny area of study and have no other outside interests. I suspect that the converse is true: by being more polymathic, you develop a better sense of proportion and balance — which gives you a better sense of humour. And that can’t be a bad thing.
No, seriously. Nowadays, a better sense of humour can’t be a bad thing.
Featured Image: Vitruvian man by Leonardo da Vinci