David Epstein, investigative reporter and author, delivered Tuesday’s forum address.
Epstein discussed the importance of diversifying rather than only specializing in our personal and professional development. Taking from examples of elite musicians and athletes and research on different education systems, he suggests it is more beneficial in the long run to have a sampling period where we can work on a variety of interests as we grow and learn.
Epstein stated that it is common to think that a head start and deliberate practice can make anyone an expert, but elite athletes often don't specialize or deliberately practice until later in life.
"We never really hear late-developmental stories, we hear the exceptions," he said.
For example, Epstein started off his presentation talking about how Tiger Woods famously started playing and focused in just on golf at a very young age. But, as Epstein pointed out, the story of Roger Federer, another sports great who instead participated in a variety of activities and hobbies before eventually narrowing his focus to tennis, is less known, even among active sports fans.
As another non-sports example, he said the average age of those who launch successful tech startups is 45, but instead of knowing this average, we primarily hear about exceptions like Mark Zuckerberg.
Although the world does need specialists, Epstein cautioned that specializing naturally narrows our perspective. To avoid blind spots, he recommended being proactive about continuing to develop generally throughout your entire career.
Learning how to diversify information and adapt to changing circumstances is crucial in becoming educated in the workforce.
Epstein suggests that the most successful organizations that grow and innovate split the chain of communication from the chain of command, meaning there is communication between different teams and individuals rather than just to superiors, to allow for a healthy input and output of ideas. If these chains are the exact same line of people, there is not enough variation.
“If we want to be educated about the systems of which we are a part, we have to diversify our information sources,” Epstein said.
Bishop L. Todd Budge, Second Counselor in the Presiding Bishopric of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, will deliver the devotional address on Tuesday, February 2, at 11:05 a.m.
His remarks will be broadcast live on BYUtv, BYUtv.org, KBYU-TV 11, Classical 89 FM, BYUradio 107.9 FM and SiriusXM 143.