Can You Get Beyond What Anyone Else Has Done?

The world tends to reward specialists.

There’s some really good advice that I’ve never followed.  And that good advice is to focus on something that you’re really good at, better than everybody else at, and really put lots of focus on it because the world tends to reward specialists.  The world tends not to reward as much people who are generalists or people who are trying to be a jack-of-all-trades.  


That said, I have always been interested in lots of things and I’ve not been able to help myself from being interested in lots of things.  In everything I do, I try to do to the best of my ability.  Now, for some things, the best of my ability isn’t very good.  So for those things, dabbling in them is more because I think it’s fun, because it’s interesting to me.  I’ve been fortunate that some of the things where I tried to do my best, my best is good enough that other people think it’s pretty good.  My cookbook is certainly a different cookbook than anybody else’s cookbook, and the research I do with dinosaurs or the photos I take, they may not be the best in the world, but they have something to offer because they’re a little bit different than what everybody else does.  

So even though I have lots of things I do, when I’m focused on one thing, I try to really get in-depth with it and learn everything I can, to get out to the frontier of knowledge and then say, "Okay now, can I go beyond that?  Can I push past that frontier?  Can I take it to the next stage?"  And I think that’s where it really gets interesting to me is when you’re trying to do something that is beyond what anyone else has done.  

In Their Own Words is recorded in Big Think's studio.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

Big Think
Sponsored by Lumina Foundation

Upvote/downvote each of the videos below!

As you vote, keep in mind that we are looking for a winner with the most engaging social venture pitch - an idea you would want to invest in.

Keep reading Show less

Why Lil Dicky made this star-studded Earth Day music video

"Earth" features about 30 of the biggest names in entertainment.

Culture & Religion
  • Lil Dicky is a rapper and comedian who released his debut album in 2015.
  • His new music video, "Earth," features artists such as Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande, Ed Sheehan, Kevin Hart, and Leonardo DiCaprio.
  • All proceeds of the music video will go to environmental causes, Dicky said.
Keep reading Show less

After death, you’re aware that you’ve died, say scientists

Some evidence attributes a certain neurological phenomenon to a near death experience.

Credit: Petr Kratochvil. PublicDomainPictures.net.
Surprising Science

Time of death is considered when a person has gone into cardiac arrest. This is the cessation of the electrical impulse that drive the heartbeat. As a result, the heart locks up. The moment the heart stops is considered time of death. But does death overtake our mind immediately afterward or does it slowly creep in?

Keep reading Show less

Behold, the face of a Neolithic dog

He was a very good boy.

Image source: Historic Environment Scotland
Surprising Science
  • A forensic artist in Scotland has made a hyper realistic model of an ancient dog.
  • It was based on the skull of a dog dug up in Orkney, Scotland, which lived and died 4,000 years ago.
  • The model gives us a glimpse of some of the first dogs humans befriended.
Keep reading Show less