23 March 2012

Learning from other fields and cross-training

As I get older, I feel like scientists aren't really good at anything except science. Not that this is entirely surprising or that we should expect scientists to be amazing writers, speakers, etc. But if you're a scientist, you spend all your time immersed in the scientific community, thinking that the quality of writing or presentations that you see there are really the way things should be... well, you should go look at essays in the New Yorker or The Atlantic, or watch TED speakers or theatre performers or standup comics. The professionals of every field tend to have their strengths and weaknesses. If you want to shore up your weaknesses, go look for a field where that particular weakness is a strength, learn from those people, and use them as your inspiration. If you look outside your field, I think you'll have a huge leg up over others.

In sports, we call this cross-training. Athletes have no problem taking up yoga to help their hockey goaltending skills, for instance.

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