During our early years, through college, our individual focus is on learning and building our knowledge. When we go into the workforce, we become cogs in the big wheel of an organization, however small or large. Even if you are a freelancer, you have to work with partners to satisfy the needs, or solve the problems, of customers. When you are a cog, you have to work with others in order to accomplish things – you are doing something that somebody else uses to complete the larger task – for the team, organization, customer or end-user. What you need for this is smartness, not just intelligence.

We humans confuse the words intelligence and smartness. They are NOT THE SAME.

Intelligence is what we’re born with, and is used to learn, memorize, analyze and make distinctions. Smartness is what we develop – to contextually apply one’s knowledge and intelligence in real-world situations, often working with others.

Raw intelligence is often viewed as the ultimate indicator of potential success. However, raw intelligence alone is not enough to ensure success in life. Smartness, the ability to apply your intelligence effectively in various contexts, is essential for achieving success in all aspects of life. As we move farther and higher in our careers, smartness becomes more important than raw intelligence. There is no limit to increasing your smartness. Whatever you think of yourself today, you can become more successful by increasing your smartness.

The diagram below shows how we leverage intelligence and smartness with age. Those who stop their education at high school (red curve) leverage their intelligence less than college grads (blue curve). Advanced education (graduate school & more degrees) primarily leverages our intelligence. Life beyond school and college requires more smartness.

The first job we got out of college primarily relied on how well we leveraged our intelligence (academic credentials). However, smartness (solid gold curve), became more crucial the farther and higher we progressed in our careers. If your career has plateaued, increasing your smartness (and eliminating or mitigating behaviors that are not smart – dashed gold curve – plateaued career) can propel your career.

I’m an MIT grad who figured this out the hard way… from the University of Life, and have validated them with research and data from people who consider themselves ‘smart’ (or not) and intelligent (or not), including my own career. I have unique assessments that can identify your ‘gaps’ allowing you to bridge them and increase your smartness, and thereby enabling yourself to become more successful. Message me if you want to learn more.

YOU can become more successful if you focus on improving your smartness, irrespective of how intelligent you are.

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