How to Get Smart(er)

How to Get SmartFor the next part of our discussion on self-limiting syndrome, we’re going to talk about knowledge…

We all fall victim to knowledge-complacency from time to time. Whether its because you think you know it all or you just plain don’t care to know anything more than you already do, this a very unproductive place. The cliche “use it or lose it”  certainly applies to our mental abilities and its time to wake up.

Get back on the knowledge-train. Don’t worry. I’ll show you how in concise, step-by-step fashion.

Note: In order to use this guide effectively, we need to humble ourselves and realize that everyone is smarter than us in one area or another. Focus on people’s strengths and what you can learn from them.

1. Observe people who are smarter than you.

Personally, I learn a lot by dissecting other business models and practices. I love to see what business A is doing well combined with what business B is doing poorly. Then, I can take that practical knowledge and build something that really kills it for business C.

I may or may not own business C…

2. Listen to people who are smarter than you.

I enjoy podcasts, audiobooks, recorded sermons, and even some recorded college courses. That’s what I listen to in the car as I’m bouncing all over Nashville during the day. It’s a great way to redeem that time. You get to learn without having to strain your schedule. Win-win.

What else would you be doing; listening to talk radio and cursing the government?

3. Have conversations with people who are smarter than you.

I love hearing people’s stories. I really enjoy getting to know what makes someone tick. If I admire someone for the work they’ve done, the knowledge they’ve attained, or the skills they’ve developed, its great to sit down, get inside their head and glean some wisdom.

In just this past year, I’ve gained an amazing amount of information in the realms of business development, marketing, and entrepreneurship from just chatting with people whom have accomplished great things in that space.

4. Argue with people who are smarter than you.

Nothing makes you solidify your own thoughts and shore up your knowledge defenses better than a solid debate. What’s even more fun is when you get taken to school by someone who obviously knows much more about what you’re talking about than you do!

Some of the most important lessons you’ll learn in this life will come at your own expense.

5. Read books written by people who are smarter than you.

  • 1/3 of high school graduates never read another book for the rest of their lives.
  • 42 percent of college graduates never read another book after college.
  • 80 percent of U.S. families did not buy or read a book last year.
  • 70 percent of U.S. adults have not been in a bookstore in the last five years.

I don’t care what type of business you’re in. Read books and you’ll win.

6. Read articles written by people who are smarter than you.

I can’t stress how much this helps me. I keep Google Reader full of my favorite blogs and articles. I read them throughout the day, 1 or 2 at a time. You’re reading this blog right now, so that’s a great start.

Some of my favorite bloggers:

7. Teach people who are smarter than you.

Nothing reveals the holes in my education better than having to teach. People ask questions, argue points, and challenge you to think from different angles. If you truly want to master your topic of interest, study up on it and then attempt to teach some of your coworkers, friends, or team members about it.

When I focus on how to teach the material that I’m studying, I learn much more completely.

What’s your method for getting smart(er)?

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10 Responses to How to Get Smart(er)

  1. MichaelDPerkins December 1, 2010 at 7:19 am #

    The figures about reading are staggering.

    You pretty much nailed it all. I read 3-4 books a month and observe. Those are the two things I do the most.

    • Kenny Silva December 1, 2010 at 10:47 am #

      Ditto to that, Michael. I've found it so helpful to take the reading a step forward and seek out opportunities to teach on or share the information that I've received in those books. It helps me solidify the material in a completely different manner.

  2. cshell December 1, 2010 at 8:21 am #

    Great, great stuff in here…

    "Some of the most important lessons you’ll learn in this life will come at your own expense." I will second that quote.

    Over the past year, Reading and Debating people smarter than me, have both been huge for me. I was one of those statistics in reading, trying to change that.

    • Kenny Silva December 1, 2010 at 10:48 am #

      Keep it up. Those stats astound me every time I read them. Thanks for reading, Chuck.

  3. Joey Strawn December 1, 2010 at 1:39 pm #

    Kenny, thanks for the shout-out in your blog. You are one of my favorites as well and I'm thrilled to be included in a list with those others. I think you really hit on something strong when you talked about teaching others to become smarter. There's almost a whole post screaming to be written (or re-written) about that. Getting up in front of others and expressing your views and leaving yourself open to debate is one heck of a scary way to learn, but sometimes it can be the best.

    Great post!

    • Kenny Silva December 1, 2010 at 2:33 pm #

      I just might have to write that one next week. Thanks for the inspiration!

  4. Lexi MacKinnon December 1, 2010 at 6:18 pm #

    Awesome ideas today! I second the fact that the stats about people not reading are appalling!

    I listen to podcasts all the time (especially on long road trips) and read at least 3-4 books a week! Bookstores and the library are my other homes! I cannot imagine who I would be without the knowledge I have gained from books!

    • Kenny Silva December 1, 2010 at 11:01 pm #

      Thanks for stopping by, Lexi. I'm looking forward to talking blogs with ya tomorrow!

  5. Travis Robertson December 8, 2010 at 11:05 am #

    Great post, Kenny! I love "argue with people smarter than you" and "teach people smarter than you" as suggestions.

    Nothing crystalizes your own thoughts and ideas on a topic like trying desperately to synthesize and explain them to others. Fantastic tips!

    And thanks for the shout out! You KNOW you're on my reader for the same reason. You challenge and encourage me and I greatly appreciate it.


    • Kenny Silva December 8, 2010 at 8:55 pm #

      Thanks, Travis. I can't wait to see the incredible ways in which God is going to use you and your movement. I've already seen it begin to produce great fruit in people's lives. Keep up the good work!

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