CAREER ADVANCEMENT / JUL. 08, 2014
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Having a Good Memory Doesn't Make You Smart

In school, we’re told that; if you remember stuff, you’re smart. Remember enough to be able to regurgitate everything onto this test paper and you’ll get an A. But in life, what good does being able to remember things actually do?

Do you solve complex problems and originate creative innovations by remembering? Or do you do that by trying? Giving it a go? Seeing what happens if you make a little tweak and a change? Putting something out there and seeing how people react? 

What Makes You Smart?

Being smart can sometimes just mean having courage. Having the courage to put something out into the world. Having the courage to try something new or different. Having the courage to make big decisions like Richard Branson when he decided to extend his overdraft and carry on chipping away with Virgin Airlines, despite even the bank telling him he should cut his losses. Having the courage to follow your passion like Julie Deane who started the Cambridge Satchel Company on a budget of £600. And having the courage to take criticism on the chin.  

Being smart can also just mean taking action. The real tests in life don’t rely on regurgitation. You can’t nail a sales pitch or that job interview or get yourself out of a sticky situation or a dead end job without taking the right kind of action. The real tests in life, the outcome depends on how you act, not what you know.

Back to School

In school, we’re told that being smart means sitting down, shutting up and getting on. If you sit down, shut up and get on with your work; if you don’t cause trouble by talking or if you don’t copy off the person next to you, you’ll do well. But in life, what good does getting your head down and sacrificing collaboration do?

The Vunerable Work Horse

Those people that turn up to work, get on with it and go home are the ones that are in trouble. They’re the ones that you won’t miss. They’re the ones who won’t act, won’t fight and won’t change. They’re the first to go when budgets get cut, sales start dwindling and efficiencies are needed. They’re disposable because there’s a billion other people just like them who’ll do the exact same job for the exact same pay (or even less pay).

The New Kind of Smart

Being smart can mean making noise, standing up, going against the grain and being counted. It can mean challenging the status quo and refusing to move with the herd because the herd are being led by 60 year old Sheppards who don’t quite get it anymore.

Just about every social app on the market at the moment are great examples of challenging the status quo. Facebook changed the way we see and present ourselves, Twitter has brought us closer to our idols, Instagram has turned us all into photographers and YouTube into film directors. Pinterest has helped the interior designers within us. What’s App, Snapchat, Viber and the rest have allowed us to bypass our phone networks and use the internet as our primary means of chatting and communicating with friends and even strangers. 

We Need You to Be Smart

In a world where our financial markets are vulnerable, our energy sources are unreliable and certainly not infinite, our industries are beginning to shake and people are refusing to be sold to, we need a new breed of smart people.

We have little use for those that can remember. Those that can remember aren’t the smart ones. Not anymore. We need those who can act. Those that can learn through doing and trying and striving. Those that can challenge and question and change. We need those with courage. Because having courage, taking action and challenging the norm, that’s what today’s smart people do.

Does that sound like you?     

 

Image source: Erik (HASH) Hersman under the Creative Commons Licence

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