It’s the question we’ve all had in our minds as soon as our brains were capable of thought. Which type of intelligence do we prefer, book smart or street smart? Learning through traditional, organized education or learning important life lessons through trial and error and tough love?
When hearing these terms, what do you think of? For many, the stereotypical book smart person is usually some type of nerd or geek, adjusting his or her glasses while burying his or her head in some type of book.
Likewise, those versed in the arts of street smarts are usually thugs or those who grew up on the “street”.
The truth is, being book smart and street smart has a lot more to do than just your upbringing and personality. It has a lot to do with your preferred learning style, and which way you perceive the world.
Some people are analytically intelligent (or book smart). This type of intelligence is used to recall or recognize, analyze, evaluate, and judge information. In other words, your traditional school-type of learning. Someone, usually a teacher or instructor of some kind, will disseminate information through oral or written methods, and you will learn. Simple, right?
Well, that’s because at its core, it is. Analytically intelligent people love to learn and are good at learning. They are organized, prepared, and will always have back-up plans for everything they do in case something goes wrong. Let me illustrate an analytically intelligent person using one of my favorite shows of all time, Leverage:
As the video shows, Nate has a plan for just about every single thing that can go wrong in an operation. Is this you?
According to this article, people with more analytical intelligence tend to have the following traits:
The more you learn analytically, the better your tacit knowledge becomes, or your method of learning. For example, say you are taught that 2 + 2 = 4. Through analytical learning, you are taught that by a teacher, as well as the logic involved with coming up with that conclusion. That’s how you build analytical intelligence. It’s pretty easy to remember that 2 + 2 = 4. But what about 3 + 3? Or 4 +5? You can’t realistically memorize every math problem. That’s where tacit knowledge comes in. Using tacit knowledge means learning why 2 + 2 = 4, then being able to apply the same concept to other math problems.
Sure, your teacher can tell you the answers to all of these, and even how to solve the answers for all of these, but unless you practice it yourself, figure out the nuances, you will never be able to do the problems without your teacher. This is why basic arithmetics is repeated over and over in elementary school, having students doing problem after problem after problem. In addition to learning through repetition, students learn the patterns, the trends, and the applications of these problems into other problems. Tacit knowledge involves finding a learning method that works best for you.
Let me illustrate the concept of tacit knowledge through another Leverage clip:
Even though Parker was being taught the art of persuasion one way, she managed to reach the same solution using an alternative method that worked for her.
Now, practical intelligence (or street smart), is learning through experience. You can’t be taught the kinds of lessons you learn through practical intelligence. Let me illustrate with an example. Your neighbor bought an expensive car. How much did it cost?
What was your answer? Now go and ask that same question to your best friend. Now call up your parent and ask them the question. Now go ask a stranger on the street (be cautious of pepper spray!). Do you think you’ll all have the same answer? Why not?
We all know what a car is. We were all taught what a car is through analytical learning. We also know what “expensive” means. It means “a lot of money”. But how much is a lot? Can a teacher “teach” you how much “a lot of money” is? Well, he or she certainly can, but that is completely subjective. Their idea of “a lot” is based on their experience of money. Something that they learned through experience.
People with high practical intelligence are adaptable. They learn from their mistakes, like the child who put his hand on a hot stove. They learn what works and what doesn’t. Once again, let me use a Leverage clip (seriously, they should be paying me for this), to showcase a person adapting to their environment when faced with a sudden crisis.
Sometimes there’s just no time to plan. You have to think quickly and use the tools around you to solve a crisis.
According to the same article mentioned earlier, people with high practical intelligence:
As you can see, intelligence is divided up into two areas: analytical and practical.
Lower levels of analytical intelligence simply allows you to learn through teaching, which most people can do once they start school. The higher levels of analytical intelligence involves improving your tacit knowledge, or your ability to learn more complex concepts using learning techniques you’ve acquired through life (such as using a more effective way of studying for a test after understanding how you learn best).
Lower levels of practical intelligence allows you to learn on your own. You do this automatically as a child when you learn to walk, as well as when you learn that crying and throwing tantrums as a young child gets you what you want, but then gets you a spanking when you reach a certain age. Higher levels of practical intelligence involves using these learned experiences from your past to adapt to situations in the future, such as knowing which way to take an organization as their new CEO based on strategies you’ve used in the past that worked and those that didn’t.
So which one are you? Are you more book smart or street smart? This little quiz is fun and gives you an idea of which way you skew.
So how do you use this information to do well in college? Here are some tips:
Improving Analytical Intelligence:
- Go to class!
- Not only study, but find a great studying technique that works for you
- Do the readings for assignments. This isn’t high school; the readings will help you in the test
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions, use tutors, and visit your professors in their office
- Read! Not just your textbooks, but read for pleasure. Fiction or nonfiction, doesn’t matter! It keeps your mind working and alert, allowing you to become a more efficient learner.
Improving Practical Intelligence:
- Join on-campus clubs and organizations
- Lead on-campus clubs and organizations; you won’t believe the amount of skills you’ll learn as a leader
- Apply for internships
- Use your college resources such as mock interviews, resume critique workshops, and life skills classes (if offered)
- Network! If you go outside your circle of friends, you will learn so much about the world. College is a salad bowl of cultures and customs. There is much to experience by leaving your comfort zone and making new friends and connections.
Twas the night before finals, in the dorms they all sat
Not a student was partying, not even the frat.
The books all piled up to the top of the room,
Only 12 hours left ‘till they head to their doom.
The freshmen were cramming it all in their heads,
Not a single Facebook status was left unread.
My roommate in her pj’s, and I in my slacks,
Trying to find a way to relax.
When out in the hallway there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the chair to see what was the matter.
I opened the door to a delightful surprise,
My friends were leaving to get burgers and fries.
I said to myself, “It’s early enough,
And studying while hungry can be a bit rough.”
So, I put on my coat and I put on my shoes,
And we went to get food, some snacks, and some booze.
After a ride into town, and a little bit of fun,
I came back to my room, a quarter past one.
Less than eight hours to go before my exam,
And three different subjects for me to cram!
I grabbed my first book and as I sat on my desk,
I said, “There’s no way I can work in this mess!”
So hyped up on sugar and lots of caffeine,
I put down the books ‘till the room was all clean.
I looked at my clock and saw it was three,
I cried, “How could this happen to me?”
“I really hope they offer extra credit!”
Is what I posted on Twitter and Reddit.
And then, with a buzzing, I felt in my pants,
I just got a Snapchat from my buddy in France.
He was studying abroad and his finals were done,
He sent me a pic going down a ski run.
Depressed and distraught, I went back to my book,
It was an e-version that I bought for my Nook.
The miniscule font was driving me insane,
And searching for the settings proved to be a pain.
Fraught with pure anger and in such disarray,
I did the unthinkable and tossed my e-reader away!
It hit my left bedpost which cracked the display.
I let out a sigh. “This just isn’t my day.”
As I sat at my desk and worked on some math,
The undercooked meat I ate unleashed its wrath.
Propped on the toilet I held on for dear life,
As I let out a fudge bomb that stung like a knife.
Though tired and stressed, I still studied some more,
while trying to drown out my roommate’s snore.
Ticking and tocking teased that damn clock,
As if poking fun at my mental block.
But I studied and studied every chapter and section,
Memorized my terms to the point of perfection.
There was really no more I could do to prepare,
But to show up to class with a hope and a prayer.
Later that morning, I sprang out of class,
With a skip in my step, with a notion I passed.
“What do we do now?” asked my friends in delight.
“Well, my finals are over, so to all a good-night!”
It’s the night before that big paper is due. An unfortunate combination of technical failures, insufficient sources, and good old fashion procrastination has you pulling your hair out as you take a bite out of your day-old Taco Bell and down your fourth cup of coffee. Sure, you can try to pull yet another all-nighter and try to concoct something barely readable. Maybe you’ll get a sudden 5am rush that will turn you into a writing genius and finish those last five pages like you were coloring by the numbers.
But then again, that bed over there is seducing you with its cozy comforter and plump pillows. Perhaps it’s easier to just show up early to class tomorrow, dressed in your best brown-nosing attire, and sweet-talk your professor into extending your deadline. But what can you tell your professor that they haven’t already heard? The good old days of “My dog ate my homework” just won’t cut it anymore. You have to evolve with the times. Get ahead of the curve. Come to your professor with a story that will bring her to tears. She’ll have no other choice than to gift your troubled soul with an extra day to turn in your paper. Right?
Wrong. For every unique excuse you can come up with, your professor has heard three variations of it. So save yourself the embarrassment and read the below 10 excuses that professors heard a million times, with reasons why they aren’t willing to accept them.
1. “My computer crashed!” (and other technology problems)
In an era where digital papers and electronic submissions are the norm, a plethora of problematic possibilities have opened up for the already-stressed college student. You’re working on a paper, forget to save, and right as you’re about to hit that little disk icon on the top left of your screen, your screen freezes and your mouse stops working. Or the power goes out at your house. Or your internet gives out the night you have a huge research project to do. Or your DVD drive fails right when you’re about to watch a video for class. Or your printer fails to print that 30 page pdf. I could go on and on.
The point is, surely your professor can’t fault you for that. After all, you can’t control any of the above-mentioned situations. While that is true, any professor who’s been around the block will tell you that such a problem only happens if you’d waited until the last minute to work on your assignment. Procrastination is your biggest enemy with this excuse, because it tells the professor you waited until the last minute to start an assignment.
Had you started the assignment earlier on, you would have had time to get that situation fixed when the university’s IT department is actually opened. Even if the problem set you back a few days, your professor would be more likely to accept the excuse the day before the assignment is due, rather than the day of.
2. “I slept through my alarm”
It happens, I know. I’ve slept through a few alarms in my day. This is especially ruthless for those dreaded 8am classes, where you’re not likely to wake up on your own due to the late nights you’ve pulled. This excuse may work once towards the beginning of the semester, especially if you’re a freshman and getting used to living independently.
But any time after that and a professor will just see you as someone who is irresponsible. First of all, there are several types of alarm rings on your alarm clock or phone. Experiment until you find one that works. If you really are sleeping through every single alarm you can put up, then you are probably not getting enough sleep. If that’s the case, then you need to work on your time management. Get things done more efficiently so you don’t have to sleep so late.
The thing is, sleeping through your alarm won’t work when you get into the working world. Your boss doesn’t care that you can sleep through a foghorn. If your sleeping patterns are that abnormal, then you probably need to get that checked by a doctor. College is a wonderful place to make these types of mistakes, as the repercussions are not as bad as in the real world. But still, spare your professor the excuse and just acknowledge that you won’t be late again.
3. “There’s a lot going on in my life right now”
Ahh yes. The “woe is me” approach. I hear this one all the time when a student misses a deadline for something I assigned them to do. Not only is this excuse vague and of little value, but this excuse tells me that you are self-centered enough to believe that you are the only person in the world with a lot going on in your life right now.
Wake up, please. We all have “a lot going on in our lives right now”. That’s just the way our modern society works. We are over-worked and over-stressed and life constantly gets in the way. A part of growing up involves learning to adapt to these situations and make them fit into our busy lives. Breaking up with your girlfriend or losing your childhood pets are emotionally distressing, sure, but such is life. It has its ups and downs, but anything short of death in the family or something equally devastating could be worked around. Could you imagine if everyone used that excuse when things got too tough? We’d be a mess!
4. “My other class is taking up all of my time”
This one is a major no-no! I’m telling you this one from experience. I tried this once on a professor, and I didn’t hear the end of it. Let’s just say that professors are proud of the classes that they teach, and in their own little world, they are the only ones in our lives and all our allegiance belongs to them. They don’t want to hear that not only is there another professor in your life, but that you clearly prioritize your time with their assignments over this one. It’s like telling your significant other that you missed your anniversary date because you had to help your mother with the dishes.
It’s quite the catch 22. All your professors seemingly schedule all their tests and all their assignments due on the same week, then get upset when you have a hard time balancing them all out. It’s unfortunate, but it’s the harsh reality of college. Proper time management and controlling your procrastination can help you escape this conundrum.
5. “I forgot this was due today”
It’s pretty obvious to see why this excuse won’t work. “I forgot” didn’t work in elementary school, and it won’t work now. But what makes this excuse even worse is that in most of your classes, due dates are typically listed on the syllabus! You know that piece of paper you’re given on the first day of class that you doodle on while the professor goes over it? Yeah, you’d best not lose that. Professors tend to put test dates and due dates for assignments on their syllabi, making that a handy tool when trying to keep track of all your assignments.
Plus, this excuse is so lazy and unoriginal, you’ll be insulting your professor more than anything. So please, just avoid it and take the late grade.
6. “I didn’t know it’s considered plagiarism”
This one can be tricky, because it’s most likely true and it’s most likely an innocent mistake that can happen to anyone. In fact, it happened to me in college one time. I had to write a paper for a business class. I took this class before my first college writing class, and I kinda breezed through my high school writing classes without much thought, so I didn’t know much about citing your sources. There were plenty of paragraphs that had no sources, and could be considered plagiarism.
When confronted about it by my professor, I told him I didn’t know it was plagiarism. What he told me was a life lesson I still remember clearly to his day. “Ignorance of the law does not allow you to break it”. Plus, every college has a student handbook with a conduct policy that discusses plagiarism rules and what you could get in trouble for. Student handbooks are long and rather dry reads, but it wouldn’t hurt to look at their plagiarism section and see how to avoid it.
In the end, my professor gave me a chance to redo the paper, and many professors will probably do the same for you if you’re a freshman and it’s a first offense. But still, try to steer clear of this excuse, as there are only very few situations where such an excuse would work and not make you look like a fool.
7. “I didn’t know this would be on the test”
One rule I quickly learned in college is that, with very few exceptions, everything ever taught in a class has the potential to be on the test. You never know when an off-topic subject told by a professor during his incessant ramblings ends up as a bonus question on the final. Even in classes where they offer study guides, don’t get too cozy. It’s possible that they can change their mind and add something in there. Many syllabi even state that everything from class discussions, to assignments, to study guides are testable material.
So the lesson here is that unless your professor specifically states that it won’t be on the test, it has a chance of being on the test. So for you to show up and tell them you didn’t think it would be just makes you seem silly and amateurish.
8. “They called me in to work”
This one is tough because I know many very responsible students who work because they have to, not just because they want some extra cash. Many of them are paying their way through college themselves, or have to support their families with their supplemental income. And many off-campus jobs are not flexible with work schedules. Sometimes they will schedule you at the worst time, and there’s very little you can do about it.
Unfortunately, it is very rare that a professor will accept work as an excuse for not completing an assignment, studying for a test, or especially for not showing up to class. College is expected to be a priority above all else, and if an off-campus job won’t allow you to do that, you are expected to find a different job or to work on campus.
This is easier said than done, I know. Unfortunately, there is no quick fix for this type of situation. Unless you’re willing to pull an all-nighter after a long evening shift, your best bet is to talk to your boss way in advance to see if he or she is willing to work with you on a particular assignment or test. I’ve found that employers are more flexible if you talk to them early.
9. “You weren’t in your office when I looked for you.”
I get this one a lot, which is especially frustrating for both parties involved since I am out of the office very often. Let me once again refer you to the syllabus. Every syllabus I’ve ever seen has every available method to contact your professors. Office hours, location of office, phone number, cell phone number (for those brave souls), and email address are listed, as well as their preferred method of contact. Telling them that they weren’t in their office tells them that not only did you not look at the syllabus, but that you didn’t attempt to contact them any other way.
And don’t even think about using this excuse if you didn’t actually stop by their office. There’s nothing more embarrassing than telling them you stopped by at a time that they were actually there.
10. “You never said that”
This one should be a no-brainer. How else do you think a conversation would go where you are essentially telling a professor exactly what he or she said or didn’t say? Ordinarily, I wouldn’t put this excuse on here, but I’ve seen it used enough times that I felt it was worth mentioning.
The truth of the matter is that a professor is most likely to know what they did and didn’t say. Even in the rare occurrence that they are mistaken, who do you think they are going to believe: their own memory or yours? Unless you have evidence to back it up, don’t attempt to get into an argument with a professor regarding what he or she didn’t say. You will lose.
Every now and then on my blog, I’ll review a book that I think may be of interest to college students. It’s also a crafty way of getting me to read for pleasure again. Ever since starting grad school, all my reading became purely scholarly, and I suddenly realized I lost my passion for fiction. As a result, For The Win Book Reviews were born!
Today’s book review is for Sunkissed, by Carys Jones.
(This review was done by Jasmine of the For The Win Review Team)
In the small village of Fandova, Dawn Summers lays dying. Her fiancé, Thomas Weeville, wrings his hands in desperation. Her mother resides in the comfort that her daughter will die soon and be free of the disease. However, that does not come to pass…
Spurred on by his love for Dawn, Thomas seeks a solution to save his ailing bride-to-be. His actions lead Dawn on the path of her destiny – which was set forth by her own father, a powerful and influential supernatural being who’s on the run after consorting with Dawn’s mother.
In her transformation, Dawn is turned by the reclusive and mysterious town doctor, a deceivingly evil and decrepit man. The transformation lends less than desirable results for Dawn, but not Thomas, who greedily sees the new power Dawn has obtained. Through his own efforts, Thomas succeeds in finally embracing the evil which has always rested within his heart. His only shred of humanity left lies in his love for Dawn, who sees only a monster in herself and now with him.
Distraught by Thomas’ post-transformation actions one night, Dawn opens the door, letting the killing sunlight hit her face. It is then that she discovers a secret about herself and her lineage, something of which was prophesied by ancient creatures long ago.
Dawn’s story in Sunkissed is about her transformation and discovery of what she is destined to become – the harbinger of change for all her kind. The author does a good job of capturing the details of Dawn’s and Thomas’ post-transformations and the difference on how they embodied light and dark. However, the first half of the book was choppy in its delivery – requiring smoother transitions between character narrations and point-of-view. The author made progress on her transitions later on in the book, making it more of an enjoyable, but relatively simple, read. Sunkissed does not and will not offer any kind of depth. It is a normal supernatural romance novel that, for this reviewer, only took a couple of hours to finish.
Although the novel did start off choppy and a little dull, it transitioned in the latter half of the story into something more interesting and with smoother transitions. This makes it important to note that the author does need to put more thought into the way her storyline progresses. Pace is an important element in literature. In addition, the ending was a bit abrupt, but the assumption is that this is the first in a series – so this reviewer is a little more forgiving on that aspect. However, it is important to close some elements of the story for the reader, so they are feeling more satisfied with the ending, leaving them excited and willing to read the next book in the series. Sunkissed felt like all the threads were still open even to the very end – nothing felt completely resolved… yet.
As a last note, the author should be more careful when world building. It was difficult establishing where in the U.S. Fandova could have possibly been. One guess is the Midwest but the initial world presented struck as old-world Europe rather than early 1850’s U.S. Midwest – especially with the term “village” rather than “town”, the term that would have been used even in a sparsely populated town like Fandova. Some of the clichés of “going to the West” (or even “Mexico”… Mexico??), which Dawn expressed interest traveling to, seemed stemmed out of a stereotypical and inaccurate “impression” of the U.S. and its history at the time, rather than the actual history and mentality at the time. Given the author’s roots in England, this common impression of U.S. during this time period is understandably but not necessarily excusable. This reviewer wished that the author had taken more time in the first part of her novel when building the location. This may lead to another reason the latter half of the book was more enjoyable from a cultural and historical perspective – given its location in modern New York City. Even to most Europeans, New York City is fairly recognizable and understood.
Overall, Sunkissed rates 3 out of 5 stars. Its drawbacks were not nearly enough to detract this reviewer from wanting to hear the rest Dawn’s sage and how she will change the world while running from an ancient evil and an obsessed ex-lover.
Happy Wednesday to all!
Today I’d like to share with you a funny leadership video my wife and I made to demonstrate a leadership model I created called MICE. It was made for a class project, but I feel it’s relevant enough to this blog to share. Hope you enjoy! (No actual mice are involved in the making of this video)
Everyone wants to be rich and famous. Or at least, that’s the impression I’m given through the hundreds of reality TV shows on the air where normal people get their fifteen minutes of fame for doing niche, mundane things. Rich and fame are two powerful adjectives. Having either one or both signifies importance. So in essence, you can say that everyone wants to be important.
When you ask regular folks to name important people, what do you think they will say? George Washington? Martin Luther King Jr? Gandhi? But once you peel back the layers of “politically correct” responses for such a question and judge what people consider important through their actions, it’s easy to see who society considers important. Who is on the mind of your average person at any given time? A movie star? A singer? A football player? It’s easy to see where most of our money goes into: the entertainment industry.
And at its core, there’s nothing inherently wrong with that. Supply and demand. People want to be entertained, so entertainers entertain, and they get paid. Actors, singers, and athletes get rich and famous, and the executives and professionals who manage them and give them jobs are mostly just rich (though I doubt they’re complaining).
But here is a question I’d like to pose to you today. Why are these people so rich and famous? Could it be because the rest of society is content living their own lives in mediocrity because they can experience exhilaration by following every single thing these important people are doing? Is that why you can get sold out seats to a football game in a 60,000 seat stadium but can hardly fill up a room on voting day for local elections? Is that why newspapers and traditional storytelling are going out of style while tabloids and gossip columns keep getting stronger and more powerful? Is this why some people will obsess more over a royal wedding and the marriage of royalty in another country but neglect their own marriage at home?
Our society has a problem with obsession. Obsessing over all sorts of things, not just celebrities, is pretty common. In a world full of increasing stress and disappointment, it is easy to fall back on something that can give one comfort. For many, it can be food. For others, some sort of hobby. For others, less healthy habits like drugs and alcohol. But one specific sort of obsession that people don’t blink an eye at is celebrity obsessions.
Recently, I’ve noticed the public outcry over casting Ben Affleck as the new Batman in an upcoming Batman and Superman crossover. I’ve noticed an uproar over Miley Cyrus’ performance at the music awards that people would not stop talking about. With college football season almost over, that’s all I’ve been hearing about from fans of their teams, trash talking each other in every chance they get when their teams are set off to face.
And then there’s this image, supposedly meant to be a message as a way to support their team:
I’m not here to get into an argument about political correctness. I’m merely stating that people can sometimes get too involved into the things that they admire. My Facebook feed is filled with people who won’t stop posting about every little thing that any one particular celebrity is doing. Gawking, admiring, obsessing.
If all the time and effort spent into those types of obsessions gets put into one’s own life, could you imagine the possibilities? My question is, how can someone be content living such a plain and simple life while at the same time celebrating the lives of those who live in much more wealth and have much more influence? Many in this world are born, grow up, work a decent-paying job, have kids (maybe), grow old, retire, and die. That’s it. No real lasting impact on the world and they leave about as unknown as they came into this world.
Now, I’m not saying that we should all be drug-induced celebrities that get into scandals and live this shallow perception of fame. But why does not everyone strive to achieve significance in this world? Why doesn’t everyone set their sights on being people like George Washington, Dr. King, and Gandhi? I read this great quote once that said that Mother Teresa and Einstein had just as much time as we do and accomplished great things. What’s our excuse?
I can’t know for certain, but it’s reasonable to assume that important figures throughout history (politicians, scientists, and even celebrities) have striven to earn the significance that they’ve acquired. They set their sights on a really high goal, and they achieved it. What’s there to stop the rest of us from dreaming big? I think the answer for most of us is simple: the work to get there seems too hard and the risk seems too great.
Why try to be important when it’s safer to just live comfortably and follow other important people? And yet, it’s that kind of complacency that allows the rich and famous to become more rich and famous. Predictability. They know that most people will never attempt to reach higher levels of significance than they currently have, and are content with just traditional societal expectations, such as getting a 9-5 job, buying a house, getting a car, filling their house with material possessions they don’t really need, and living a life of debt.
So, I leave you here with the following thoughts:
Instead of obsessing over those football players down on the stadium, strive to be that football player down on the stadium.
Instead of following that famous singer in all of her concert tours and staying up until midnight to buy her latest album, attempt to be that singer who can seduce millions with your powerful lyrics.
Instead of complaining about corrupt politicians and the destruction of America, run for office and attempt to make that change yourself.
It’s true, we don’t all have talent in our specific field of interest. But everyone has a talent somewhere. And just like those famous people you see on TV, you need to take risks. They took a risk, and put their talents to the test. So can you. There’s no guarantee you will make it. In fact, it’s statistically impossible that every single person can become particularly significant, since it would be the equivalent of highlighting everything in your textbook.
But take comfort in the fact that you tried, and continue trying for as long as you live. The most dangerous disease that can affect the human race is complacency. Once we stop trying, there is nothing worth fighting for. Once we give up, we’ve lost. Who knows, you may be the next Einstein, the next Abraham Lincoln, or even the next Taylor Swift. But don’t let your own lack of ambition keep you from reaching that dream. When you are on your death bed and looking back at the kind of life you’ve missed out on, you’ll have no one to blame but yourself.
Leadership is a constantly evolving concept, changing as people discover new, more effective ways to lead others. However, with all the different ways people tell you how to be a good leader, you don’t hear much in regards to how to be a bad leader. Makes sense, though, right? Who in their right mind would waste their time learning how to be a bad leader?
Ever got told by your parents never to put your hand on the stove? For many, a parent’s wise words of wisdom are enough to deter a curious youngin’ from going any further. However, there will always be the child that needs to put that hand on that stove, and let the stove’s burning vengeance teach that child a lesson about never doing it again.
Similarly, learning about bad leadership is a good way to avoid it. No one is perfect. We all tend to fail at leadership every now and then. But by understanding our failures, we have a better opportunity to correct them.
A study on wisdom research by Dr. Robert Sternberg called Why Smart People Can Be So Foolish describes five fallacies, or an argument that exercises poor reasoning, that deter them from being true great leaders. These fallacies have very complex names, and even more complex descriptions that makes it hard to differentiate them from each other. So to help understand them, I will describe them using famous TV and movie icons that use them.
1. Unrealistic Optimism Fallacy
Leaders who fall under the unrealistic optimism fallacy think they are so smart and effective they can do whatever they please. They believe they can surmount any obstacle because they are smart. For those who have seen the Dreamworks movie Megamind, you’ll know that Megamind is a villain in Metro City who has dedicated his life to taking it over and defeating their resident hero Metroman. Despite the fact that Metroman is faster, stronger, and more charming than Megamind, he believes that his intelligence is enough to defeat him and rule the city.
Don’t fall for this fallacy. Don’t let your intelligence in any particular area corrupt your way of thinking and believe you can look down on others. Just because you believe you are smarter than a cashier doesn’t give you the right to give them a hard time when they input the wrong price on an item you are buying. Likewise, just because you have an opinionated, uninformed friend spouting out ignorant political statements doesn’t give you the right to be rude and consider yourself better than them. We all have our strengths and our weaknesses, and a little bit of tact goes a long way.
2. Ego-Centrism Fallacy
People who use the ego-centrism fallacy think that only they matter, not the people around them who rely on them. An example of this would be Lex Luther. His history with Superman has been one of a deep-rooted rivalry, similar to Metroman and Megamind above (possibly because one was inspired by the other). Lex Luther is a selfish man, whose hatred of Superman stems from the fact that he is more well-liked and overall a great person. People love him and he is famous. Not being one to want to share the spotlight, Luther constantly attempts to take down Superman to boost his own ego. Luther dreams about being the one true power in Metropolis, having people serve him and worship him like a god. Despite the fact that he has money and followers (after all, he does own a large corporation), it’s not enough. His efforts to grow his corporation and provide services to Metropolis come second to fulfilling his own desires and wants.
As a leader, it can be very easy to make leadership all about us. Once we’ve done a couple of things right and gained recognition for our efforts, it’s easy for it to go to our heads. When placed in a role of authority, always keep in mind the end goal, and why you are doing such task in the first place. Once it becomes all about you, you have failed your followers and teammates and should take a look at your priorities.
3. Omniscience Fallacy
People who exhibit the omniscience fallacy often think they know everything, and as a result, lose sight of their own limitations. Like Sheldon Cooper from Big Bang Theory, they often overestimate their abilities. This fallacy, while similar in scope to the unrealistic optimism fallacy, differs mainly through intent. In the unrealistic optimism fallacy, there is malicious intent involved with the intelligence. Being smarter means you can downplay others and do whatever you want.
The omniscience fallacy, however, is driven by good intentions. A smart person using the omniscience fallacy is only trying to help by using their knowledge in a particular area. However, they truly believe they know more about the subject than they actually do, and as a result, give the wrong advice. Dr. Sheldon Cooper, a theoretical physicist, knows a lot about many things. However, his knowledge isn’t limitless, especially when dealing with social situations, yet he treats them as if he know all about them. What results is hilarious situations where Sheldon tries to form logical conclusions about situations that don’t necessarily require logic, but instead customs and norms (like mentioning a girl’s promiscuity directly to her face in an effort to compliment her social skills, for example).
We’ve all been guilty of helping a friend on his or her time of need by offering “valuable” advice, even if we are not qualified to do so. I’ve seen a single girl (who’s never dated anyone) give another girl relationship advice, or a stressed person telling another person how to stop stressing.
The most dangerous part of this fallacy is the fact that we think we are doing a good thing by offering advice we are not qualified to give. We can do more harm than good by incorrectly diagnosing someone’s cough and headache as a cold by keeping them from seeking medical attention if it’s something worse. We are driven to form relationships, and it feels good for both parties when one party helps the other. One gets helped, and one feels good by being relied on to help. It’s okay to help others, just be aware of your limitations and have the courage to say you don’t know what to do (and help them find someone who does).
4. Omnipotence Fallacy
People who fall under the omnipotence fallacy think that they are all powerful and can do whatever they want. Again, this is similar to the unrealistic optimism fallacy, but instead of using your smarts to get what you want, you use your power to get what you want. The prequel trilogy of Star Wars (as well as the original trilogy) chronicle Anakin Skywalker’s transition to the dark side. This fallacy is made most apparent in the third movie, Revenge of the Sith, where Anakin fell in love with Padme, but being a jedi did not allow him to marry her. He knew he was a powerful jedi, and his corruption came as a result of him attempting to use his power to be able to be with her.
While the results of abusing our power may not be as extreme as Anakin’s, there is a danger to being a power-hungry leader. This type of fallacy is more commonly seen in leaders that were placed in the role of leader, though not necessarily earning it. Leadership is a very powerful title, giving the holder of that title a sense of aggrandizement and entitlement. How many of you have placed first in a competition and think that you could really make a future doing that if you wanted? How many of you accomplish your fitness goal and feel all the power in the world?
It’s a great feeling to have, and there is nothing wrong with it if used correctly (such as to self-motivate). The problem is when this feeling of power is used to make yourself seem better than others. It’s a problem when you use this power to do the wrong things, influence the wrong people, and head down an unethical path. Humility is a powerful counter to power. Keep a healthy balance of both to keep yourself in check and stay on task with whatever you are doing. To quote the wise words of Uncle Ben: “With great power, comes great responsibility”
5. Invulnerability Fallacy
Leaders who use the invulnerability fallacy think they can get away with anything, consider themselves too clever to be caught, and even if caught, figure they can get away with it because of who they imagine themselves to be. This fallacy is almost like a combination of the last four, where a person builds an image of themselves that may or may not be accurate. They believe they are special in such a way that they are destined never to fail, doing as they please with no consequences. In the television world, these type of characters are labeled as a “Mary Sue”, in that nothing bad ever happens to them no matter what they do. In television, they call this “force” that protects them plot armor. In real life, however, this is a sense of delusion that must be avoided.
Bugs Bunny is the perfect example of this, as he spent many of his early cartoon years outsmarting rivals such as Daffy Duck, Elmer Fudd, and Yosemite Sam over and over again, never losing out on a match. Sure, sometimes these fools brought their fates upon themselves by bothering Bugs to begin with, but Bugs didn’t ever stop while he was ahead. For even the most trivial annoyance, Bugs Bunny would constantly mess with them, to the point of getting them beaten, burned, smashed, and in some episodes, even killed. Yet Bugs would come out of the situation completely unharmed.
The only notable exception to this rule is in the “tortoise and hare race” shorts, inspired by one of Aesop’s fables. Just like the fable, Bugs Bunny would get beaten by Cecil Turtle in a literal race, due to Bugs Bunny’s overconfidence in his invulnerability and underestimating his opponent.
We could always use a turtle in our lives to snap us back into reality when we fall under this fallacy. We are not perfect or immune to anything, no matter how much we try to believe otherwise. We do not live in a TV show, where everything will end up working out in the end. Sometimes, there will be sad endings, and we need to learn to live with them and move on.
I feel that this fallacy is the most dangerous because society pushes this one as the “correct” way of thinking more than any of the others, especially to our children. Have you seen an animated movie lately? How many animated movies (meant for children and families) have you seen where the main protagonist does not achieve his goal by the end of the movie? That’s just it, no matter how unrealistic the goal is, that little plane will beat all the other bigger, more qualified planes in the race, or that young woman will find true love by wishing it so, or dog will find its way home by believing hard enough.
Current media is teaching our children that anything is possible if they set their minds to it. That’s just not true. We all are born and raised with different talents, and we should strive to work with the talents that we have. If they attempt to do something that they are not good at, that’s fine, but they should expect the realistic chance of failure trying something that doesn’t fall under one of their strengths (something that’s become increasingly harder to do with snowplow parents who attempt to shield their children from failing).
The best cure for the invulnerability fallacy is to accept failure in your life. It will be a part of many things that you do, and that is okay. With every failure, there will be a lesson to be learned that can be applied elsewhere for successes down the road.
We’ve heard for years about Helicopter parents. You know, those parents that do a child’s science project at school, take control of every PTA meeting, take care of every fundraiser with no effort from the child. However, an increasing trend in the US is the ‘Snowplow Parent’, parents who continue to hover over their child way into college and beyond.
This article on the Boston Globe explains what a snowplow parent consists of, with many frightening-but-true examples. These are just a few snippets of what the article describes as snowplow parents:
Astrid Franco, 21, of Framingham, lived away from home her first two years at UMass Boston and got constant calls and messages from her parents. “I’d be out with friends and I’d get a text from my mom, ‘What are you doing?’ With time, I stopped answering and they wondered why. I felt it was being nosy,” says Franco, now a senior.
In one extreme case of parental over-involvement, a college senior in December 2012 won a protective order against her parents for stalking and harassing her. Aubrey Ireland, 21, told a Cincinnati judge that her parents often drove 600 miles from their Kansas home to the College-Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati, unannounced, to meet with college officials, and falsely accused her of promiscuity, drug use, and mental problems.
Her parents, Julie and David Ireland, admitted in court that they installed monitoring software on their daughter’s laptop and cellphone. But they said they had her best interests at heart. “She’s an only child who was catered to all her life by loving parents,” her mother told the judge.
“We see snowplow parents when they come in with their son or daughter to apply for a job,” says Green, whose family owns several restaurants, including West on Centre in West Roxbury. “They say things like, ‘I’m here with my son, Mark, to apply for a bus boy position.’ Mark is standing there not saying a word. We’re thinking if Mark can’t talk to us, how can he interact with our staff and customers?”
The truth is, in my time in college (and working in a college), I’ve seen this type of behavior firsthand. People joke about the fact that elementary school teachers are now being harassed for handing out low grades to students, but the consequences of such behavior are starting to see a societal impact. This new generation of sheltered, over-protected kids are now entering college, and soon, the real world. Many of these students are unprepared to deal with the challenges that life will throw at them, because their parents have always taken care of it for them.
Once these students leave college, one of two things are going to happen: either their parents are going to continue to do everything for them (such as applying for jobs with them as mentioned in the above example) and then wondering why no one will hire them, or they will finally let them go, once again wondering why their grown up children can’t fend for themselves when buying a house, raising a family, or managing a budget.
What are your experiences with snowplow parents, either as a college student or bystander? Are you friends with one? What can we do to solve this type of problem? Let us know in the comments.
College in the media is not a new thing. We’ve seen all sorts of shows and movies in college settings since the beginning of film. However, most of these works include common college stereotypes such as partying, alcohol, and Greek Life. While that is indeed part of what society considers college, it is nowhere near as prevalent as shown in the media.
So, in an effort to throw out some of those stereotypes, I’d like to present to you six college-themed TV shows that focus on other things, such as classes, relationships, and monster killing.
The half-hour comedy was Judd Apatow’s follow-up to an earlier television series he worked on, Freaks and Geeks, which also lasted for one season. Undeclared centers on a group of college freshmen at the fictional University of Northeastern California. Although a comedy, this show generally strays away from common college stereotypes, and instead replacing clichés of campus life (nonstop partying) with more realistic concerns (such as the freshman 15).
2. Veronica Mars
The series is set in the fictional town of Neptune, California, and stars Kristen Bell as the title character, a student who progresses from high school to college while moonlighting as a private investigator under the tutelage of her detective father. In each episode, Veronica solves a different stand-alone case while working to solve a more complex mystery.
The show is an instant cult classic, and was Kristen Bell’s ticket to fame, as well as the first crush of many boys growing up. The show is almost like “Clueless” meets “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”, and is quite fun to watch. A new Kickstarter project was started to fund a feature length film that the original actors have agreed to, so now is the perfect time to watch through the show.
The series follows a group of students at a community college in the fictional locale of Greendale, Colorado. Jeff Winger, a lawyer who gets sent back to college to get a degree in order to continue working at his firm, meets a group of other students who ended up at community college for a number of different reasons. It’s clear that I didn’t rank these shows in any particular order, because Community is definitely my favorite of all of these shows.
What makes this show so great is that it starts the first season like a normal sitcom: a group of friends who get into funny situations while learning a valuable lesson in the end. However, starting season 2, the show starts to get over-the-top with “gimmick” episodes that introduce all sorts of surreal concepts and plot lines while still generally grounded in reality. From deathly paintball battles, to battling zombies with Abba music playing in the background, to alternate dimensions, this show does not have a dull moment.
But what really makes this show so great is the chemistry between all of the characters. They just seem to get along so well, and really show the struggles of students in a community college.
Hellcats focuses on the lives of college cheerleaders, mainly Marti Perkins, a pre-law college student who has to join the cheerleading team, the Hellcats, in order to get the athletic scholarship she needs.
Coming right out of out of the heels of Phil of the Future on Disney Channel, Aly Michalka adds a little sass to her repertoire on this show, joined by fellow Disney Channel Star Ashley Tisdale and a lineup of college beauties hashing it out in the world of cheerleading.
Marti Perkins lost her scholarship and has no other choice but to join the college’s cheer squad, the Hellcats, in order to obtain a new one. There she meets her new roommate and team captain Savannah Monroe, the injured flyer Alice Verdura, her new partner Lewis Flynn and the Hellcats coach Vanessa Lodge who hopes to win nationals, otherwise the cheer leading program will be cut. Michalka and Tisdale have great chemistry together, and it’s pretty amusing to watch how their rivalry eventually morphs into a friendship of convenience.
5. China, IL
The series takes place at the “Worst College in America”, located at the edge of town. The school’s poor reputation is celebrated by the school’s uncaring faculty and staff, constantly shown drinking while teaching and/or trying to avoid teaching altogether. Steve and Frank Smith are twin professors at the college, teaching different subjects with limited success, while Professor Cakes is the father of undergraduate Mark “Baby” Cakes, who spends his time at college with the school staff. Pony is the teacher’s aide at the school, and the most rational of the staff, but still willing to go along with the staff’s insane plots to avoid working.
The show is really weird, with a really strange art style and odd voices. But it really grows on you. I’d say it’s one of the better showings you’ll find on Adult Swim, so check it out if you have the chance.
6. Sabrina the Teenage Witch
Now, this show only takes place in a college setting in the later seasons, and there are mixed feelings regarding the college-based episodes (like many shows that decide to take their cast to college). However, I found the show pretty enjoyable, and while not having the same charm as the first few seasons, it grew into its own style that I enjoyed.
Sabrina the Teenage Witch is a show about Sabrina Spellman, a girl who discovers on her sixteenth birthday that she is a witch. As a novice witch, her spells often go awry. Her aunts Hilda and Zelda Spellman counsel her on the proper use of her magic and give her moral advice, at least in the first few seasons.
In the college episodes, her aunts tend to get their own plotlines, only seldom merging with Sabrina’s plot lines. What I like about the show at this point in time is that Sabrina, in between her witchery and other otherworldly problems, still has to struggle through college problems, such as academics, financial aid, finding a job, and living with roommates. It actually does a pretty good job of being realistic. Well, as realistic as a girl going on adventures with a talking cat can be.
A while back I came across a very interesting article stating 11 rules about life as quoted by Bill Gates. It was very insightful, as they were things that students were not taught in schools. Though Mr. Gates is a pretty smart guy, a quick search on Snopes.com tells us that these rules were incorrectly attributed to him. There are actually 14 rules, and they were written by Charles J. Sykes, author of the 1996 book Dumbing Down Our Kids: Why American Children Feel Good About Themselves But Can’t Read, Write, Or Add.
I think it’s a very good read, and something that every college student should read before heading off into the real world. Behold, Mr. Sykes’ 14 life lessons you will not learn in school:
Rule No. 1: Life is not fair. Get used to it. The average teenager uses the phrase “It’s not fair” 8.6 times a day. You got it from your parents, who said it so often you decided they must be the most idealistic generation ever. When they started hearing it from their own kids, they realized Rule No. 1.
Rule No. 2: The real world won’t care as much about your self-esteem as much as your school does. It’ll expect you to accomplish something before you feel good about yourself. This may come as a shock. Usually, when inflated self-esteem meets reality, kids complain that it’s not fair. (See Rule No. 1)
Rule No. 3: Sorry, you won’t make $40,000 a year right out of high school. And you won’t be a vice president or have a car phone either. You may even have to wear a uniform that doesn’t have a Gap label.
Rule No. 4: If you think your teacher is tough, wait ’til you get a boss. He doesn’t have tenure, so he tends to be a bit edgier. When you screw up, he’s not going to ask you how you feel about it.
Rule No. 5: Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your grandparents had a different word for burger flipping. They called it opportunity. They weren’t embarrassed making minimum wage either. They would have been embarrassed to sit around talking about Kurt Cobain all weekend.
Rule No. 6: It’s not your parents’ fault. If you screw up, you are responsible. This is the flip side of “It’s my life,” and “You’re not the boss of me,” and other eloquent proclamations of your generation. When you turn 18, it’s on your dime. Don’t whine about it, or you’ll sound like a baby boomer.
Rule No. 7: Before you were born your parents weren’t as boring as they are now. They got that way paying your bills, cleaning up your room and listening to you tell them how idealistic you are. And by the way, before you save the rain forest from the blood-sucking parasites of your parents’ generation, try delousing the closet in your bedroom.
Rule No. 8: Your school may have done away with winners and losers. Life hasn’t. In some schools, they’ll give you as many times as you want to get the right answer. Failing grades have been abolished and class valedictorians scrapped, lest anyone’s feelings be hurt. Effort is as important as results. This, of course, bears not the slightest resemblance to anything in real life. (See Rule No. 1, Rule No. 2 and Rule No. 4.)
Rule No. 9: Life is not divided into semesters, and you don’t get summers off. Not even Easter break. They expect you to show up every day. For eight hours. And you don’t get a new life every 10 weeks. It just goes on and on. While we’re at it, very few jobs are interested in fostering your self-expression or helping you find yourself. Fewer still lead to self-realization. (See Rule No. 1 and Rule No. 2.)
Rule No. 10: Television is not real life. Your life is not a sitcom. Your problems will not all be solved in 30 minutes, minus time for commercials. In real life, people actually have to leave the coffee shop to go to jobs. Your friends will not be as perky or pliable as Jennifer Aniston.
Rule No. 11: Be nice to nerds. You may end up working for them. We all could.
Rule No. 12: Smoking does not make you look cool. It makes you look moronic. Next time you’re out cruising, watch an 11-year-old with a butt in his mouth. That’s what you look like to anyone over 20. Ditto for “expressing yourself” with purple hair and/or pierced body parts.
Rule No. 13: You are not immortal. (See Rule No. 12.) If you are under the impression that living fast, dying young and leaving a beautiful corpse is romantic, you obviously haven’t seen one of your peers at room temperature lately.
Rule No. 14: Enjoy this while you can. Sure parents are a pain, school’s a bother, and life is depressing. But someday you’ll realize how wonderful it was to be a kid. Maybe you should start now. You’re welcome.
Read more about it here.