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.
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)
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.