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Depth and Breadth

Colin Wright
Colin Wright
Aspiring Generalist is an Understandary project.

Depth and Breadth
Generalism is often dismissed as the pursuit of a “jack of all trades, master of none” skillset which may leave said jack scattered and unfocused.
This can sometimes be the case, especially if we flit from topic to topic without ever immersing ourselves or investigating beyond the superficial. It’s possible to cast a wide intellectual net and never look at what we catch with any focus and depth: the act of net-casting serving as an end rather than a means to an end.
More ideal, I would argue, is orienting aspects of our lives toward exposure to new things, people, concepts, and perspectives, while also honing our capacity to explore these things both efficiently and effectively.
Effective in the sense that we’re able to dig deep and learn a great deal about both rich, dense ideas and seemingly frivolous (but actually quite fascinating and useful) whimsies.
Efficient in the sense that we refine our capacity to taste-test and experiment with things over time, allowing ourselves to consider a wholesale commitment to further investigation, while also maintaining our ability to put a lid on something we’re exploring—forever, or for future revisitation.
Said another way: we’re ideally able to throw ourselves into intellectual and practical pursuits for years at a time, aiming for mastery, but we’re also capable of exploring for days or weeks or months, knowing all the while we may decide the thing we’re pursuing doesn’t warrant further investment, at least for now.
Rather than being ambivalent or wishy-washy, then, we’re more ideally just very intentional in how we spend our time, energy, and resources, and thus commit doses of these things to a variety of pursuits, over time becoming more skilled at both delegating resources and rationally determining outcomes for our experiments and other undertakings.
The ideal outcome of this approach is we put a great deal of care into deciding which aspects of life should be perpetual pursuits and which should be appetizers or tapas: pursuits we enjoy and treat seriously, but to which we don’t feel the desire or need to dedicate substantial chunks of our waking hours for extended periods of time.
Ideally, this results in more thoughtful and custom-fitted (and less prescribed, passive, or templated) long-term educational trajectories, and a lot more dabbling, weaving together seemingly disparate concepts and ideas, and cross-pollination between fields of inquiry about which we develop and maintain a spark of fundamental understanding we can then stoke into a larger edification conflagration in the future, if we so choose.
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Colin Wright
Colin Wright @colinismyname

Learning for its own sake.

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