the former CEO of General Electric was a C Plus student. One can hardly say that he was book smart. A book smart person excels and is always on the upper levels of the class. But Jack Welch is touted as one of the finest CEOs that GE or even the entire world has ever seen. He was street smart.
In the previous article, I intimated the fact that book smart is what everyone else is going for. Each nation of the world has structures, budgets, and curriculums for raising book smart people. What lacks is the same kind of focus for street smart people.
When you talk to business owners and managers who are trying to hire the best workers, they will tell you that it is a nightmare. This is why: Over the years, institutions have churned out hundreds of thousands of book smart people per year.
And yet finding the one with the best fit for an organization is not easy. We have thousands upon hundreds of thousands of book smart people but what we need is street smart people. Having sat in interview panels over the past 15 years or so, I can tell you that it’s a daunting task to find the best fit.
I have always prided myself on the fact that I tend to give street smart people a chance because I am not necessarily book smart myself. There is absolutely nothing wrong with being book smart, but if that is all there is to you, this modern world has no place for you. It used to have a place for you decades ago. Not any more.
A couple of years back, I raised a team for a client. We worked on this client’s project and within a period of six months, there was a serious change. The impact on the ground could not be denied. A top manager at my client’s place marveled: Where do you find these kinds of people? My team was street smart.
While interviewing them, I seldom looked at their faces as they talked. I wanted to hear their passion and listen to their stories. I wanted to hear their street smart selves coming to the fore. That’s why I interviewed for months and ended up with a good crop of people.
Street smart is the way to go. Like I have already said, book smart is already sorted with schools, budgets, resources and curriculums. Street smart is not. The sad part though is that book smart is not for everybody. Even when all the infrastructure is available for book smart, not everyone is gifted enough to become one. However, everyone has the seeds as human, to be street smart.
In raising street smart children, there are several aspects of life that we need to focus on. Granted, I know that there are many additions and nuances out there that can beef up these, but I decided to go with the eight:
Whether you are book smart or street smart, there is one equalizer for us all—time. A book smart person who relies mostly on their qualifications (which are for the most part, historical), has no chance against a street smart person who is a consummate planner.
As a Life Coach, the first responsibility I give people as I coach them to be street smart is to sort out their priorities. It is to find out what matters to them, craft it in a time table and do something daily towards it. A street smart personal will also painstakingly track their activities to see where they are slacking.
Granted, this can be done by a book smart person too. Incidentally, book smart people operate on the principle of time tables. Timetables rule the book smart world. Unfortunately those time tables are almost always discarded once a book smart person becomes qualified.
They forget that out in the real world, street smart people pick up time tables and run their worlds strictly around those. It’s a paradox to drop what used to work for you while in school when you get into the real world. So what was the use of school in the first place?
Perhaps the strongest pillar of a street smart person is that of planning and intentionality. Mark you, this has absolutely nothing to do with whether one is employed or not. For as long as they have breath in them, street smart people run their worlds with plans and strict intentions.
At the end of the day, life is traded for time. The notion of time management is not foolproof because you cannot manage what you do not create. What we manage are the activities within the duration of time that we have, thus planning.
If you are raising a street smart child, you will do well to instill in them the discipline of planning their day and following that plan to the latter.
In summary street smart and book smart are both needed. Not everyone can be book smart, but I do believe that everyone can be street smart. Book smart is already prepared for and already in motion. Street smart is not. So it is important to start thinking along those lines as a parent.