“A smart man makes a mistake, learns from it, and never makes that mistake again. But a wise man finds a smart man and learns from him how to avoid the mistake altogether.” Roy H. Williams (best-selling author and marketing consultant).
But what is being smart? Perhaps here it would be helpful to analyse the word as we see it used in this context.
In 2003, Ben Yagoda, writer and Professor of Journalism and English at the University of Delaware, USA, presented ‘smart’ as his recommendation for Word of the Year (an accolade that ultimately went to ‘Selfie’). In his submission, Yagoda highlighted that the use of the word to mean ‘intelligent’ got going in the 1800s and explained his appreciation for its modern-day suitability to apply ‘approvingly and unironically’ to politicians, businesspeople and entertainers.
In my view, being smart as we refer to it today is not something confined to the realms of education and knowledge, but more to do with what you can gain from and apply in life. Every day is an experience in itself and offers a wealth of opportunities to grow and progress. Smartness, therefore, implies savviness that encompasses more than just intelligence.
So with this in mind, how can we work on improving being ‘smart’? Here are my five small personal pointers to help boost our smart levels:
Don’t compare yourself to others – start off by recognising that being smart is an individual quality – not one size fits all. Find out where you excel and promote these personal attributes.
Nurture a sense of curiosity and questioning – don’t just accept that things are the way they are because they have to be that way. You may find better alternatives that suit your natural skills.
Learning is life long – commit yourself to learning something new, such as a language, a professional skill, or a hobby. This both opens up new areas of knowledge and brings you into contact with a wider circle of people and ideas.
Broaden your horizons – stepping out of your comfort zone will help you see things from a different perspective. Visit new places, expand your number of acquaintances and discover other cultures.
Set goals – establish objectives and revisit these regularly. Constantly ask yourself what you are achieving. As you progress towards your aims you will find yourself becoming smarter.
Of course, a large part of being smart is that it is a perception that other people have of you. It’s all very well knowing (or believing) that you have developed that quality, but a smart person is known for being so by others. Having an in-depth knowledge of arcane and esoteric subjects will not necessarily make you smart in their eyes, but the ability to translate these complex issues into simple and easily understandable information will. If you can make a difficult subject that you have grasped easy for others to comprehend, you will be perceived as being smart. You will know it and they will know it.