When you’re with anyone … a partner, a client or a friend … be interested and not interesting.
When you’re the most interesting (and smartest) person in the room, go find another room.
And, when you’re in that room, go and find the most talented person and stand next to her. Be interested. You might learn something.
Don’t get me wrong, its feels good to be the most interesting and smartest person in the room (never happened to me yet). Therein lies the danger.
- There’s the danger of our ego getting out of hand. We start craving the recognition more and more.
- There’s the danger of keeping the status quo when we think we know it all. This is treacherous ground. This you normally find in the narcissist at worst, and someone who believes his own public relations, at best.
- There’s the danger of others giving you too much control over their lives. It’s dangerous for them because they never get empowered. And it’s dangerous for you because the more control you have, the more temptation you have to abuse it.
“Power tends to corrupt, absolute power corrupts absolutely.”Lord Acton
Finding another room with people way smarter and more interesting than you is a big fat adventure. You expose yourself to more. You learn more. You realise that there is more than one viewpoint. You evolve and grow.
Here’s the thing, though. All of us are the most interesting and smartest person in the room. It all depends on which room we’re in. We’ve been conditioned to think that those that get good marks at school are clever and those that don’t (let me not sugar coat it) are stupid.
This thinking is flawed. Some top students are wonderful at memorising large tracts of information over the short-term. Just long enough to get it out onto an exam paper. But, have they really internalised the knowledge so that it can be useful in the future? Or have they parroted it?
We know that there are different kinds of smart. Would you call Pablo Picasso, who has gifted the world with some of the most compelling art, stupid because he couldn’t figure out 176 x 14? Go on, give it a bash without a calculator … what’s 176 x 14?
I know that when I get a plumber in to fix something in my house, right then I’m certainly not the smartest person in the room.
We’re all onteresting and smart in our own way. But the really smart folk know that they hardly know anything, and they are able to humble themselves enough to learn from others. They’re infinitely curious. They’re interested.
So, go and find yourself another room and become more interested than interesting because adventure and growth awaits you.