Modern Polymath
Modern Polymath

Modern Polymath

Quick Summary

Jack of all trades, master of none.

The warning against being a generalist has persisted for hundreds of years in dozens of languages. “Equipped with knives all over, yet none is sharp,” warn people in China. In Estonia, it goes, “Nine trades, the tenth one — hunger.”

Yet, many of the most impactful individuals ,  both contemporary and historical, have been generalists: Elon Musk, Steve Jobs, Richard Feynman, Ben Franklin, Thomas Edison, Leonardo Da Vinci, and Marie Curie to name just a few.

What’s going on here?

If being a generalist was the path to mediocrity, why did a comprehensive study of the most significant scientists in all of history uncover that 15 of the 20 were polymaths? Newton. Galileo. Aristotle. Kepler. Descartes. Huygens. Laplace. Faraday. Pasteur. Ptolemy. Hooke. Leibniz. Euler. Darwin. Maxwell—all polymaths.

If being a generalist was so ineffective, why are the founders of the five largest companies in the world—Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Warren Buffett, Larry Page, and Jeff Bezos—all polymaths?

When it comes to being a world-class entrepreneur or scientist, being a polymath might actually be the rule rather than the exception.

On the other hand, we all know generalist dabblers who may have encyclopedic knowledge, but who flounder in their career and don’t make any real impact.

The truth is that both perspectives are right: the most impactful scientists and entrepreneurs are polymaths and so are the least impactful!

In this Mastery Manual we’ll explain how you can be in the “most impactful” column by exploring:

  • Why this paradox happens.
  • What the polymath model is, and why it’s such a critical mental model.
  • How to use the polymath model to make better decisions, learn faster, be more creative, and achieve financial success.
  • How to avoid the fate of being a penniless generalist dabbler who never makes forward progress in their career.
  • The untold story of polymaths and autodidacts throughout history.
  • Step-by-step advice on how you can apply the mental model to your life immediately.

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