Learning to Love Variety

By the time I was in my early teens, most of my friends had chosen their sport.

They began playing hockey in the spring and summer, as well as winter.

Others started played soccer year-round.

While it made sense for many—it was often necessary to play at higher levels—it never held much appeal for me.

I looked forward to the change of sports in spring and summer. The switch from those that required a rink or a gym to those that could be out on the water or a field.

In some ways, this probably hurt me.

Specialization, at some point, is necessary to reach the top of any field, including sports. There’s only so much time in a day, and to reach the highest levels, you have to choose.

There are benefits to cross-training, of course, but in a limited capacity and up to a certain point.

Skill transfer is limited within sport. A cyclist might have the leg strength required to be a hockey player, but they’re going to lack skills. 

A badminton player might pick up tennis fast, but they’re not going to be playing in Wimbledon next year.

In real life, skills do transfer: you can combine skills in unique ways and create your own competition.

Here, my love of variety is valuable. 

I love going from knowing little or nothing, with little or no skill, to competence. 

Not mastery, but being able to do and understand something well. 

Knowing enough design to offer mockup suggestions, or build some concepts myself.

Knowing enough about a data pipeline to know what is easy, and what is hard.

In sport, my love of variety likely held me back.

In the modern professional world, it’s an invaluable asset.

(you can listen to this is audio form here)