Quest to be a polymath
For a long time, I was a person with tunnel vision, which helped me specialize in my job, but it did not make me an interesting person. All I wanted to do was programming & project management. I had little time and interest to do anything else, thus limiting my knowledge to few things.
Few years ago, I came across Charlie Munger’s view on a multi-disciplinary approach and mental models. This led to my understanding that becoming a polymath can help me look at things from different dimensions and perspectives. And perhaps make me an interesting person in the process :)
My curiosity for other disciplines aroused and I started reading about microeconomics, game theory, science, spirituality, politics, agriculture, climate change, nutrition, finance, happiness, history, technology, music and investing. And made decent progress if not great.
Now, imagine you invite an engineer, a biologist, a chemist, a philosopher, a businessman for a jungle tour. You will notice that the engineer will talk in terms of acres of land, density of trees per square mile, rainwater absorption in inches, total number of species found etc.
A biologist would talk about evolution of these species, how each of these species are interdependent for their prosperity, how their reproduction cycle works, how the ecosystem thrives. A chemist on the other hand will pick-up some soil and would want to know the elements found in them, and in what ratio and why?
A philosopher would perhaps enjoy nature and draw parallel to human life, animals, and plants. A businessman may wonder how much it would cost to lease a part of the jungle for trophy hunting and what kind of ROI can be realized.
As you can see each one is observing in terms of how they were trained. A polymath on the other hand, can look at the jungle from multiple viewpoints, not just one. While it is good to specialize (the world values specialization and it is needed too), it is equally important to learn a little bit about other disciplines. Best combination will be to specialize in 1 or 2 disciplines and have enough curiosity for others.
For the rest of my life, I would prefer exploring and learning about various disciplines, than be a man with a hammer, to whom everything looks like a nail.