Nothing exists in a vacuum, and specialization is a great way to stay ignorant to the way everything interconnects.

Relatedly, I discovered a funny counterintuitive thing in college, going for my degree in Computer Science.

I was very uninterested for the first year or two of school. I'd already been programming for years by then. I'd been paid as a developer. I spent more time with friends. My grades quickly slipped. I failed a class or two. I wasn't learning anything new or putting in the work.

Many things contributed, but I started truly turning things around after taking an American Literature class and, for the first time ever, doing the assigned reading.

I fell in love with reading.

I started going to the library, walking through random aisles picking interesting-looking books off the shelf as a pastime.

I started and never finished 100 books. I'd start reading in the middle of a book, or on a page that simply caught my eye.

Somehow I always found insight from small, random passages in those pages — whether it was a book on mythology, or filmmaking, or some composer, or “weblogging,” or outer space.

It wasn't really insight into my field; just a better “sense” of things.

Soon, that actually bled into the work I was supposed to be doing.

Without trying or even realizing, I started hearing what I was supposed to in my classes. Everything was suddenly relevant — or at least, info was easier to sift through to find what mattered most.

I started getting interested. I started getting better grades. I started practices I still carry today, like taking notes to reinforce what I'm hearing in the moment (even if I never look at them again).

I got comfortable with having “unproductive” interests, and “wasting time” when there's allegedly something more important to do. It's counterintuitive, but I know now that these always feed back into the whole.

Of course, I've suffered similar periods of disinterest in the professional world. I wither slowly when I'm forced into a specialized role.

In many aspects, me starting a business has been for no other reason than to allow myself to be a generalist.

(Originally from my Twitter thread.)