I read that you shouldn’t compliment your children on how smart they are as they will begin to rely on their intelligence and will cease to work as hard.
I knew plenty of kids in high school and college who were traditionally “brilliant.” They understood chemistry and math, they read philosophy, they had exceptional vocabularies and rocked the SAT. Some of those same people lacked social skills, some squandered the intelligence, unwilling to live up to the pressure of “being smart.” Some got arrogant, becoming the sort of people who lack basic respect for people at different levels of society.
Smart is overrated
…or more accurately, traditional smart is overrated.
There are infinite ways to be intelligent. You can store vast sums of knowledge spanning a limitless number of subject areas. The problem we get into is putting a value judgement on the knowledge we have chosen, or been forced, to absorb or remember. It is not our fault that certain subjects don’t resonate with us, and you’re not wrong for not being good at something.
But here’s a better reason not to…
What is smart?
Some people know geometry. Some people know tax law.
Some people know how to balance a checkbook. Some people know how to lead a team of people.
Some people know the entire history of the United States Postal Service. Some people know the entire history of the X-Men.
- What’s Pascal’s Wager?
- What does the Old Testament say about debt?
- Who has the highest points per game average, in a playoff game played on a Saturday?
- Do you know what each of the letters in E=mc2 represents?
We all have a random assortment of information stored in our brains. How do we determine what is more important? Where do we encourage young people to focus their time and attention?
In 2018, I think it’s far less important how much data you can store on your organic hard drive, and far more important how your treat others, how you think critically, and how you set big, bold objectives that help the largest number of people.
But, maybe that’s just me. Who knows? I’m not that smart.