I went to college. There were some really smart people there — “book smart,” as they say. I used to not think “book smart” existed, but it surely does. Because over 10 years after college, I still know some (different) really smart people. And their smarts sometimes outsmart them.
Well, who are the book smart people? I’ll share they type that I know:
Usually they have a high level of schooling (from really good schools) and did really well there. The books they’re smart form are not these type of books — more like the textbooks colleges overcharge you to rent from the school bookstore. They usually do things by the book (pun very much intended). Anything that goes against the normal dogma taught in textbooks and lecture halls is staunchly opposed. Book smart people had it ingrained in them so hard to do things by the book that they could not un-learn it if they wanted to.
And, anyone who invests heavily into anything — a sport, a business, a relationship, an education — will defend it tooth and nail.
When you bring an unconventional idea to a book smart person, they have a ready-made answer for everything — and if they don’t have one, they’ll quickly reference a book for an answer. Google? That’s a book, in this instance.
You see, book smart people have so much book smarts that they blunt their own instincts. There’s always a book or an article or something someone taught them that can answer anything life shows them. Any new information that isn’t printed by someone with a degree is faced with heavy skepticism. Oh, and if the person sharing this new idea doesn’t have all the book smarts to match? Forget about it. They don’t even hear what you’re saying.
This is how book smart people have opportunities and new ways of thinking and new ideas pass right under their noses. In this way, book smart people can be both the smartest and the dumbest people in the room.
[And — no joke — I’m in a text conversation with a college student right now who is fitting this description perfectly. No joke.]
The real problem book smart people have is outdated information: That we’ve all been taught that going to school, and compiling degrees, and what is printed in books is the height of sophistication and anyone who does less than that isn’t doing it right.
The peak of knowledge is knowing that someone who comes from a completely different background, with less compiled information, can know something that you don’t, think in a way you can’t, and is open to thoughts you are incapable of having. Ever heard of “dumb luck”?
Don’t outsmart yourself.