I’m going to make an assumption that you believe, that at least to some degree, that we have some control over the outcomes in our lives. The area where I’m most focused on having that control is human performance. It’s the core of my work as a coach (helping clients improve their performance) and why I write these posts to share my throughs on the subject.
There are many factors that go into our performance (and even more that feed into our outcomes). Most importantly, I believe they can all be improved with study and application. Today I want to write about the one I've spent the largest amount of my time studying - smarts.
Throughout my life, I've had a privilege of spending time around a lot of smart people. Some from modest backgrounds and others from privilege. Some of the people I've known are blessed with a seemly 'natural' intelligence while others have discovered their smarts through a more rigorous application.
What unifies them is that they have been able to repeatably apply their intellectual gifts to achieve strong, predictable, results. Simply put, when you analyze their actions and allow for all other factors, they went beyond getting lucky.
I've studied these people and their approaches closely. How they work, live, and think. The things they do and the things they avoid.
Below are 15 principles I've observed about being smart. Some are specific and some more general. Some will work for you, while others will not. Discard the principles that don't work for you and use the rest relentlessly.
- Turn the TV off and read. Even if you manage the avoid the 99% of television that is designed to sell you stuff, you'll still find the information is better captured by reading and reflecting.
- Develop an understanding of the difference between opinion and analysis. Be extremely distrustful anytime you see one pretending to be the other.
- Existence can be seen as a series of patterns. Once you have studied one experiment and see where else it fits.
- In most aspects of life, your ability to communicate will have a significant impact on your success in any field, invest in it.
- Smart people listen, think and then respond, get out of the habit of doing any of them at the same time.
- Spend an equal amount of time learning how to sell and when not to sell.
- You cannot be smart if you are not willing to be wrong. And, You will never know if you are right or wrong unless you test.
- Understand that ‘smart’ is a context and a construct. It’s not a fixed point or a genetic attribute.
- Learning how to process information is much more important than learning facts.
- You absolutely must go deep on something. Smart is t-shaped. Learn the basics in as many fields as possible while picking an area to go deep.
- Smart is addictive, often frustrating and usually hard.
- The best source knowledge for me is personal experimentation supplements with expert discussion. This may not be the same for you.
- The smarter you get the more complex the world becomes. Learn to love that feeling.
- Anyone, at any point in their journey, can decide to become smart. This isn't about genetics, it's about mindset.
- Smart people are usually more interested in learning your thoughts than in broadcasting theirs.