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7 till 40 – Breadth not Depth

I have never been great at anything. Good, but not great. Competent, but not talented. At the top of the class, but not THE top. It was frustrating as a kid when so much of school love was focussed on where you placed, but somewhere towards the end of high school I couldn’t care less.

When we got to elective classes in year 11 I jettisoned my strong subjects like science and maths to doubled down in art and history, two relatively new and unexplored fields. I chose breadth of knowledge rather than depth. I felt I knew enough science to get by but I was lacking in other areas. I have a drive to understand and expand my knowledge, I don’t have a tendency to repeat ad nauseam in order to gain the necessary depth of knowledge and skill. I want what is new, what is unchartered.

The only problem is that there is very little, if any, reward for this kind of exploration. Breadth doesn’t pay. It makes it difficult to find work, to get recognition and gain respect. Society isn’t set up for it, and it often can’t handle it. I’ve spent a long time fighting people for little reason other than I don’t have a qualification in a specific field. That’s despite the evidence base and lust for more cross-discipline, cross-pollination and collaboration.

I chose breadth over depth because I wanted to understand more. I wanted to know how things fit together and don’t. I want to experience more, to feel more and be more. As opposed to be being the same, but better. Breadth was an easy choice for me, but it’s taken sometime to get used to the consequences of that choice.

By Tim Klapdor

Passionate about good design, motivated by the power of media and enchanted by the opportunities of technology.

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