Book Review: Range


“Don’t feel behind.”

That’s my favorite line from this book. I realize it’s not so much a line as it is three words of advice, but for someone who often feels behind, it’s good advice.

The book opens with a story about two of the world’s best athletes. One has trained at his sport pretty much since birth. The other tried a bunch of other things and didn’t really get into his sport until later in life. But at one point or another, they were both at the top of their respective sports. The two athletes are Tiger Woods and Roger Federer.

The upshot is that we hear more about the Tigers of the world. We learn that specialization is the ONLY way to guarantee success. So parents enroll their kids in violin lessons at age 2.

But Range illuminates the lesser-told story, that for every Tiger there’s a Roger. Don’t feel bad if your kid isn’t playing Für Elise by age three, it’s okay. [But by god make sure they nail it by the time they’re 4.]

I enjoyed Range because it made me feel better about being who I am, someone with multiple interests who hasn’t really broken through yet.

When I a kid, I wanted to be a doctor. And then a scientist. And then a computer game developer. And then, when I finally turned 11, I came to the conclusion that I wanted to be on stage. Doing what, I had no idea. I just liked stages. Mostly for the girls—my wife was stage manager for a lot of my high school shows—but also because making other people smile felt good. I can remember one moment during a production of Godspell where I was on the stairs leading down to the audience. I was singing so close to real people. I can still remember seeing them smile. At everyone else on stage.

I later got involved with our high school’s improv team. That was even more fun, because we would actually make people laugh. And that, my friends, is the real goal of this whole thing. It wasn’t enough to make people smile or, depending on the quality of the performance, occasionally cry. No, I wanted the laugh. I was hooked.

So I did what any normal kid did. I went to college, majored in political science—again for the girls [my wife was a poli sci major]—and economics (because I wanted a job). I got a regular job as a technology consultant. Then I became a recruiter. Then an independent headhunter [same thing]. And then a commercial actor, stand-up comic, and writer.

In short: a lot of different things.

The hardest thing about doing different things is that I don’t feel like I’m making progress in any one area. It’s easy to feel like a failure when none of your pursuits has panned out successfully.

Range was the first thing that made me feel okay being who I am—someone who does a lot of things.

I just haven’t “broken” yet. [Note: I’m using broken in the sense of “breaking out,” not “broken down.” It’s an important distinction… I think a lot of people break down before they break out.]

This book reminded me that it’s okay to be me. Someone with varied interests. Someone who doesn’t have ONE THING that they make a ton of money doing. [At least not yet.]

It’s a good reminder that Rome wasn’t built in a day.

And yeah, I’m Rome in this example.

Here’s an affiliate link to the book on Amazon. If you click it, I’ll earn a commission, which will put a few cents in my pocket.