Tue, Sep 16, 2014

Deliberate Amateurs

Andre Geim, a nobel-price winning physicist, keeps doing something very unusual: He is a deliberate amateur. Every five years or so he goes into another field of physics and works on other people’s realms of expertise, goes to all the conferences, and asks questions they didn’t dare. It requires that he gets up to speed quickly in a new field but also, as he describes it, not read himself out of his own ideas.

It’s an intriguing concept.

You might not be able to do this for various reasons (one being that you’re not a tenured professor). And yet — there is something deeper in here: Surround yourself with people who can look at your opportunities and challenges with fresh eyes, who are not afraid to ask unconventional questions and who can challenge the status quo (as they never knew the status quo to begin with). It’s often where you get your best idea sparks from — and sometimes the breakthroughs you were clamoring for. Once you become too much of an expert in an industry — it gets harder and harder to break out of the proverbial box.

Whom can you call today, have a great conversation with and have her/him challenge your status quo?

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