How smart do you think you are? Did you receive good grades in school? Did you graduate and go on to college? Do you know not to text and drive? Being smart, or intelligent, is a relative concept, but it does entail knowing your “Dos” and “Don’ts.” Luckily, we receive training on those very things early in life.
We all learned not to touch the hot pan on the stove. Of course, this was after someone told us not to touch it, and we reached for it anyway. That burn taught us that pans on the stove can be hot, hot things can hurt us, and we need to listen to our parents. That experience also taught us something else, we don’t know squat until we learn something and demonstrate that knowledge.
In case you were wondering, the demonstration part of knowledge is the difference between knowing to look both ways before you cross the street, and putting it into practice. This is where many people usually make mistakes. They forget to use the knowledge that they have—use it or lose.
As I am writing this post, a very skilled carpenter is building a lovely deck in my back yard. In the past, my husband and I would take up the task, working together to set the posts, frame the structure, and stain the surface. We know enough to measure twice, cut once, but this deck was much larger than we wanted to attempt, and it included a pergola. We also knew we did not have time to invest in working long hours in the backyard. We knew our limitations and planned accordingly—we hired a professional. We also know to hire a professional when it comes to extensive electrical work, automobile service, and litigation. “He who represents himself has a fool for a client” – Abraham Lincoln.
Knowing your limitations is an important part of being smart. You have to know your areas of “expertise” and areas where you just need to step back and let someone better take charge. We can’t all be experts at everything. Just because I am pretty good at getting out a splinter, it doesn’t qualify me as a brain surgeon. On that same note, just because I can walk a straight line, it doesn’t mean I can navigate a balance beam at the Olympics, or join Nik Wallenda in crossing over Niagara Falls on a tightrope. The knowledge that I don’t know something keeps me safe. I know when I shouldn’t take risks.
There are times when people take risks in life, and that’s not always a bad thing. You just need to be knowledgeable of the risk you are taking and the consequences of that risk. Risks can be anything from investing money, choosing to accept a new job across the country, or skydiving. When you do take a risk, surround yourself with knowledgeable people in that area, and then it won’t be so…risky. It’s OK if you don’t know everything. If you think you know everything, then you are ignorant. If you know you don’t, then you are one smart cookie.