When You Are NOT the Smartest Person in the Room, It’s OK. Here is Why

The genius lies in these daily habits, instead.

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Photo by José Fulgencio Orenes Martínez on Unsplash

1. Growth Habit

Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft was asked what he believes in. Here is what he had to say -“If you take two kids at school, one of them has more innate capability but is a know-it-all. The other person has less innate capability but is a learn-it-all. The learn-it-all does better than the know-it-all.”

He call’s it the growth mindset. A growth habit to perpetually learn.

2. Comfort Before Content Habit

At get go, a deep dive into the subject at hand — works for a Ph. D. dissertation. What got you there, sometimes keeps you there. What propels select few are genuine words of acknowledgement prefacing counterpoints (I hear you, I see where you are coming from). Or words of curiosity that showcase a self-belief to learn (why do you say that? help me understand better etc.)

How, What, When, Which, Where- these questions are implicitly answered by many in their conversations. Select few focus first on the why. The answer to the why gives context better and in the process provides a different type of comfort too.

3. The habit to know the difference between precise and accurate

I dwell deep into the details of this difference that changed the course of my career. Suffice to say, a picture is a thousand words. Here is an illustration of why “Be more accurate than precise” is a great lifeline.

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In practical terms, a priority within priorities achieves that — the heart of the algorithmic success of Google and a central tenet of Steven Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective people — first things first.

4. Linear Conversation with a Twist

About 9 years ago, during training in Europe, one of the coaches took me aside on the last day and shared, “do you know what camp you fall under?”

I gave him a dazed look. He added, “Non-linear thinker. Do you know what you need to be aware of?”

I figured it was best to listen, he added, “Thinking can be non-linear. When you articulate your thoughts — it is most comforting for audience when it is linear.”

I have observed conversations since. There is some truth to what he said — but not 100%. Some great minds are all over the map when they communicate. Others pursue the rigor of depth with linear narration but run out of time or burn out before reaching the destination.

The selective few — state the end with a summary and then pursue the linear narration.

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5. Climb up the U Habit

When it comes to decision, many go with their gut. That is the top start of the U [left side]. The “rigorous few” call this top of the U — the hypothesis to test. They glide down the left side of the U — reach the depth of the weeds and nail the details.

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Many smart folks stay in the details and surround with others in the same smart swamp. They are perceived well by others. Words that echo — “I am sure he knows what he is doing, I just can’t relate. It is over my head.”

Chosen few climb the other wall of the U to the top. Now with synthesis of the essence they can communicate with both camps — detailed engineers who verify hypothesis and those who chose to stay with the hunches.

Coagulating all together

Book smart is one thing and being worldly wise is a whole another.

Humble yourself and supercharge your life with killer habits. If you do, the sky is the limit.

Any habits that have worked wonders for you? Please share them in the comment section.

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Karthik Rajan

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