A wise friend recently told me, “You’re smarter than 98% of the general population.” She tells me this after I continually bitch about how stupid people are. I just don’t remember people being so dumb 10 or 15 years ago. These people are all around us. They’re the Customer Service Rep at Target who makes you call three people in India to solve a problem that can easily be handled in 5 minutes. It’s the cashier at The Giant who only knows paper or plastic and freaks out when you have your own bag.
I complain a lot about these people being stupid, but maybe they have an excuse. Maybe they came up in a poor education system and didn’t have all the resources I did growing up. This is unfortunate and I’ve accepted that as the US has grown, the ability to provide a sound education for everyone has been diminished. Now, I’m not going all political and I’m not making excuses. It’s just a fact.
That aside, the dumbest of the dumb are actually those who walk the halls of corporate America. Many of these have advanced degrees and I’m not knocking the degree. I have one too! What makes them dumb is their insecurity to be themselves. They go around repeating words like “synergy,” “value-add,” “bandwidth” and “alignment” which they think because someone with a bigger degree from a better school said it will in turn make them sound that smart too. It’s a vicious circle where no one wins because there’s always going to be someone smarter than you.
For most of my life, I’ve been fortunate to be surrounded by very smart people. In school, I socialized with the ‘higher-level’ kids and in my professional life I’ve had to work on projects with Harvard Business grads and PhD scientists from MIT; this for a girl who had to cheat in Chemistry to get a D. See, I’ve always known that I wasn’t the smartest and I just didn’t let it bother me. I accepted my limitations in math and science and just gravitated to what I did best. To me, that’s being smart: do what you do best, be yourself and just ignore the rest. Do this and you’ll be smarter than 98% of the population too!