In role playing games, there's a common class of strategies that involve taking all your resources and pouring them into synergies around a specific approach. This leaves everything else (typically, "dump stats") at hilariously low levels – so your fighter has only enough intelligence to barely talk – minimizing the things you won't need and maximizing the things essential to your one approach, hence the term. This works pretty well for games, and specialization is a big advantage to the modern economy – so why don't people Min/Max in real life?

Don't get me twisted – people shouldn't. I've lived the strange half-life of someone good at one thing. It's pretty sad, and not a life well lived by any measure. But the idea that you should get multiple professional skills that combine well makes sense. So there's a balancing here, and I think it's worth taking a moment to consider how we ought to balance things.

A useful metaphor might be ADHD medications used by people without ADHD. People online report that, while it makes some people very productive, if you aren't well prepared, you can use that focus to very diligently read every Wikipedia page about bird Pokemon, for hours. It might give people without attention issues too much focus – without the normal diversion of curiosity, they'd follow whatever strange path they end up on, leading to lots of wasted time that they only notice in hindsight. Spending your time better requires a divergent, creative, unfocused mind. You need to let yourself get pulled in dozens of different directions before you combine all the options together. Most creative work requires some of this, to be done well.

If you invest too much in a single strategy, it can prevent you from getting the skills and insight needed to notice a different path. And, in the scope of the world, I think we can all agree: things are becoming more complex, and changing faster, than ever. So why would you want to lock in one strategy, when you ought to be using an inherently divergent, minimally synergistic Multi-Armed Bandit optimization. The details don't matter much (although it's important to know people have studied how to optimize things you don't understand well), but you ought to take into account the systemic risk that your strategy will stink. In the long run, we'll all be wrong.

The second lens we ought to use is frustrated artists. There's a strange waste to having Charles Bukowski and William Faulkner work at the post office (as they both did). Their hobbies, which are how we incubate new skills and talents which we aren't getting money from yet, were unrelated to their work. Ideally, you'd get synergies very quickly – who wouldn't want to be on the receiving end of a corporate memo penned by a legendary American author? For some, like a front-end web developer learning graphic design, you'd hardly need to ask how they benefit from the hobby. An accountant learning law? Bingo! But a frustrated artist can have a tremendous body of talent they're leaving at home, and that's clearly no good for anyone. Plenty of jobs involve writing, and communication is hard to avoid, so they ought to have both practice and advantage at work – except post offices are notoriously mechanical and isolating, to the point that they're an excellent island of relieve for people with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Clearly, Faulkner didn't Min/Max nearly enough.

My third lens is tradition. I think my younger self was just barely functional (particularly when I was 15-16). I couldn't ever maintain any tradition, truly. I couldn't start a family, because no one would truly wish to have such a narrowly skilled person as a partner. I didn't know how to take care of myself, and wasn't quick to learn – how could I ever take care of someone else? And yet, that's the core of every tradition. Without family, none of the other parts matter.

I'm sorry I don't have a simple answer. I just have ways to notice when we focus too much on one thing, or maybe too little. Maybe we can build a bigger library of tools for this, together?