Intelligence is Overrated
Book smarts and rule-following don't create the lifestyle we're striving for.
I’m making a bold claim today. I’ve always believed there is much more to life than being smart and following the rules. Today we jump into reasons why and discuss the roles of rules, values, and intelligence.
What do you think? Hit reply or leave a comment on this post and let me know!
And as always, thanks for reading!
Intelligence is Overrated
Intelligence is like following a GPS route right into a body of water until you drown. Wisdom looks at the route but, when it takes a turn into the ocean, decides not to follow it, then finds a new, better way.
We’re taught from an early age intelligence is synonymous with following the rules. We listen to the narrow views of the teacher and echo those back in artificial formats for evaluation. Instead of being judged based on common sense and real-world impact, we’re beholden to the almighty rubric.
Nuance and circumstances are thrown out the window because they’re hard to quantify. Rubrics and rules provide an easy way to quantify someone’s performance, but they teach us to optimize for rules that don’t serve us.
Following the rules inherently limits us to the boundaries of that system. Job applicants that only go through standard application channels don’t get very far. Applicants who go outside standard channels and connect with folks individually see incredible results.
There is nothing noble about following rules that stifle our potential and creativity.
Intelligence can take us to the top of predefined systems, but wisdom and common sense blaze new trails, create new categories, and let us surge past the limitations of existing norms. Wisdom is a weighty word, but we can define it in simple terms: knowing what rules to follow and what rules to ignore.
If we do choose to ignore the rules, we need to do no harm to others, be willing to fail, and have a better alternative at the ready. Otherwise, we’d be anarchists disregarding authority for its own sake.
We don’t admire people who go through life and check boxes. We admire those who question norms and build a life that aligns with their values, not arbitrary rules. It’s easy to put these people on a pedestal and believe we’re constrained by rules that they aren’t, but these folks have simply chosen to ignore the rules we feel beholden to.
The difference between those who are hoping for more and those who actively create a life they love are the rules they adhere to. If we follow someone else’s rules, we’ll always be unhappy and dissatisfied.
We shouldn’t strive to win someone else’s game. Instead, we should develop the wisdom and conviction to ignore rules that don’t serve us and use our intuition to create a life we’re proud of.
What rules (institutional or cultural) do you follow begrudgingly?
What is holding you back from living the life you dream of?
How can you change one thing in your life to align with your values instead of predetermined rules?
A blog post expanding on the difference between the two.
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Thanks for reading! I’ll see you next Sunday.
I’ve been thinking a lot about this topic in relationship to my little one’s future education. I was homeschooled and I think that really reduced my tendency to conform to other people’s rules that don’t align with my own values. I want the same experience for him and public school doesn’t seem to provide much hope in fostering creativity OR critical thinking. 😬