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Polymaths have existed forever (they are often the ones who’ve advanced Western civilization more than any others ) but they’ve been called different things throughout history:
Philosopher king: Aristotle, Marcus Aurelius, Archimedes.
Renaissance person: Leonardo Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Galileo Galilei.
Gentleman scholar: Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams.
Polymath: Marie Curie, Isaac Newton, Theodore Roosevelt.
Modern polymath: Elon Musk, Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg.
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... is someone who becomes competent in at least 3 diverse domains and integrates them into a top 1-percent skill set.
In another words, they bring the best of what humanity has discovered from across fields to help them be more effective in their core field.
Specialists, on t...
Specialists build up a narrow skill set and reputation and become highly paid for it, but they become fragile as their professions disappear or evolve.
Changes to the environment make polymaths stronger. As new paradigms of business emerge or their passions grow, they c...
It’s easier and faster than ever to become competent in a new skill. The quality of knowledge in every domain is improving and there is an abundance of free or affordable content from the world’s top experts in every medium you can think of.
A polymath can take the skills that she or he has learned and combine them in new ways quickly to master new fields.
On the other hand, a specialist whose fields becomes obsolete would likely take much more time to adapt to the change and have to start back at the beginning.
It's easier than ever to pioneer a new field, industry, or skill set:
Most creative breakthroughs come via making atypical combinations of skills.
Researcher Brian Uzzi, a professor at the Northwestern University Kellogg School of Management, analyzed more than 26 million scientific papers going back hundreds of years and found t...
Even if you're merely competent in these skills, combining them can lead to a world-class skill set.
Example: Scott Adams, the creator of Dilbert, one of the most popular comic strips of all time, was not the funniest person, not the best cartoonist, and n...
The relevance of supply and demand to the job market, to goods and services, to the world of ideas, and to many other places means that you can have the most valuable skill set in the world, but if everyone also has that skill set, then you’re a commodity.
"Study the science of art. Study the art of science. Develop your senses — especially learn how to see. Realize that everything connects to everything else."
Being a polymath sets you up to solve more complex problems. Many of the largest problems that face society and individuals benefit from solutions that integrate multiple disciplines.
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