Momma said life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get — Forrest Gump
There was a time when things were more predictable. A growing world economy, stable jobs, steady incomes and the promise of a good life. The times are changing for the better and for the worse. A world trying to recover from financial crises is plunged headlong into the vortex of rapid technological disruption. As machines continue to advance along the learning curve using more sophisticated neural nets and availability of exabytes of data (experience in the context of machines), we need to keep pace with these incredulous changes. There has never been a time to be more curious and not just about one subject but about how various subjects and systems align to keep the world spinning on its axis. In simple terms, this article argues that there is a need to be a polymath or a person of wide ranging knowledge and learning somewhat like Forrest Gump-gathering different skills with a singular goal of succeeding at life.
Forrest Gump, to me personally, represented many lives rolled into one. I must admit the movie makes his accomplishments easier to achieve than in real life. In the interest of time, it also hides the extensive practice needed to achieve proficiency let alone to excel.
At the same time, Forrest also represents all that an be achieved if we do just ONE thing : quit hiding behind excuses.
I am also not proposing a ‘jack of all trades and a master of none’. Rather, more of curiosity that leads to developing the most important skill of all — learning how to learn. Virtually anything. Elon Musk is described by many as an example of ‘learning transferability’. He received acclaim as the founder of PayPal — a financial services company. Today, he leads companies in autonomous travel, space exploration and Artificial Intelligence.
Walter Isaacson is a prolific writer. I discovered his writing first through his biography of Steve Jobs. Today, I have read parts of his biography of Leonardo da Vinci and Albert Einstein.