Here's what you should do if your kids choose to specialize

4 minutes
Here's what you should do if your kids choose to specialize

Elon Musk, owner and CEO of Tesla, arrives on the red carpet for the Axel Springer Award 2020 in Berlin, Germany, on December 1, 2020.

Parents often face the question of how to allocate their children's time when they show promise in a particular activity at an early age. Should they take the generalist approach and educate their children to specialize in that activity, or should they take the specialist approach and expose them to many different things to help them become well-rounded? In my five years of researching how to raise exceptionally successful people, I have seen most parents choose the latter; they introduce their kids in piano lessons and play them for baseball, golf, soccer and maybe even chess or math clubs.

Early exposure to a range of activities is a good thing; how do you know where your interests and talents lie? Once you 've found something where you can specialize, you have reached the opportunity to focus on your natural talent. Specialization does n't mean that your kid gives up doing other things, maybe for fun or even for developing additional skills. It simply means that they have chosen the activity where they are committed to putting in the effort required to become as good as possible at it. The reason for specialization is simple: You can never replace the amount of time you need to devote to an activity to acquire and develop the required skills. As written by bestselling author Bill Gates according to Malcolm Gladwell's famous 10,000 Hour Rule, it takes a long period of hard work to achieve mastery of complex skills and materials, like playing violin or getting as good as Malcolm Gladwell at computer programming. The sooner you encourage your kid to learn the advanced skills of a field, the more they 'll progress to basic skills. And the sooner they develop these advanced skills, the faster they will develop the best-in-class skills. And the quicker they gain rare and elite skills, the more likely they are to attain a best level of proficiency. At a young age, the best specialists became exceptional people. At the age of four, Andre Agassi began to play tennis.

The tennis player now retired won eight Grand Slam titles, as well as the career Grand Slam for winning each of the four major tennis tournaments at least once.

By the time his career turned professional at age 16 Agassi's opponents were in their prime. He could but he could keep up with them despite his youth because he built an early age and specialized in the same volume of practice on courts as players a decade older. Playing against the best has strengthened his skills, until he eventually became the world's top player. Elon Musk is another example of Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk; at the age of 10 he learned about computer programming through a manual and a Commodore VIC-20 computer. When we were 12, Blastar built a space-themed PC game called Musk. Then there is Warren Buffett, who became interested in money and business during his childhood and bought his first stock when he was 11 years old. Today, the CEO of Berkshire Hathaway is worth more than$ 95 billion and is known as one of the most successful investors of all time. Specialists are in the world's top companies for companies. Specialization is n't just reserved for billionaires and future sports champions. It's increasingly necessary if you want your kids to grow up and get good jobs that they enjoy working.

According to my interviews with the world's top CEOs, many elite companies are moving away hiring moderately-rounded individuals who show great proficiency in many different things.

Instead, they are searching for many-rare candidates who demonstrate exceptional talent in one or two areas. If you were a manager, would you want to build a team filled with well-rounded people or would you want a well-rounded team assembled with people who are all unique in their unique domains? While there are strong cases for hiring more generalists, some experts have found that there are costs to generalizing. As the saying goes, Jacks of all trades are masters of none. This line of research argues that specialists can better evaluate and leverage emerging opportunities with their deeper understanding of subject matter. The age at which you can specialize depends on the activity you choose.

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