INTELLIGENCE & CHANGE
JoAnna Bennett, O’Brien Communications Group
July 21, 2022
“If you’re the smartest person in the room, then you’re in the wrong room.”
I’ve heard this statement several times, in several different contexts over the years. I’ve heard people stand by it and I’ve heard people dispute it. I’ve been in places where I’ve thought I was the smartest in the room. I’ve also been in places where I was clearly not. But most recently, I’ve noticed that if I take my ego out of the equation, I can more fully understand and appreciate the concept.
Remove the Ego
I’ll never be the smartest person in the room. Why? Because I can learn something from everyone. If I’m in a room with billionaire business owners, I can clearly learn a thing or two from them. However, if I’m in a room with preschoolers, I’ll still have a lot to learn. No matter who’s in the room, there’s something to learn, even if those lessons may be less than obvious.
As Albert Einstein – likely one of the smartest men – is known for saying, “The measure of intelligence is the ability to change.”
Mr. Einstein seems to take the ego out of intelligence. To measure intelligence is not to show off your bank account. To measure intelligence is not to boast about your GPA. To measure intelligence is not to manipulate those around you. Mr. Einstein chose to measure intelligence by the brain’s ability to be flexible and neuroplastic.
If you think you’re the smartest person in the room, maybe you should go into another room. You should examine what you can learn from the people in that other room. What are they doing that could foster your ability to change? Are they bad-mouthing others? Are they unable to listen to different viewpoints? Are they younger and bolder? If so, the lessons they can teach you may be more important than the ones to be learned from the billionaire.
I’ll never be the smartest person in the room. I can always learn. I can always change. Can you?