In “What Nobel Laureates and Elite Athletes Have in Common” (5 Oct 2021), David Epstein writes:
Two weeks ago, I wrote about a new study on the childhoods of elite athletes. Bottom line: athletes who went on to become the best adults did a wider variety of activities in childhood, and initially progressed more slowly than the best youth athletes — who more often specialized early and peaked early.
That study also referenced Nobel laureates. Specifically, a 2015 paper on Nobel laureates found that — compared to high-achieving but non-Nobel peers — Nobel laureates were more likely to do multidisciplinary work early in their careers, and to progress more slowly early on.
“Nobel laureates were less likely to have won a scholarship as a student and took significantly longer to earn full professorships…Taken together, the observations suggest that early multidisciplinary practice is associated with gradual initial discipline specific progress but greater sustainability of long-term development of excellence.”
But, of course, this works only if one lives above Plato’s “divided line,” if one connects the dots that Steve Jobs talks about, if one does as Ayn Rand says and integrates all one’s knowledge into a unified, connected whole. We must process to have practice be of value.