Street Smarts vs. School Smarts

14 06 2016

“I don’t believe the most successful people are the ones who got the best grades, got into the best schools, or made the most money.” ~Ben Stein

There’s education (i.e. “school smarts”), and then there’s common sense and/or “street smarts”.  Some call one intelligence, and the other wisdom.  Some people are blessed with both, but many only have one or the other.  Intelligence is important.  Knowing facts, dates, quotes, and the origin of some words is a useful skill.  Knowing history, and what worked and didn’t will allow you to avoid repeating it.  These are all good things that come with intelligence and “school smarts”.

But those things learned in the school of hard knocks (i.e. wisdom) are probably more important.  Knowing what it really feels like to be hungry cannot be taught in school, but it’s the strongest motivation for someone to work hard, and avoid that feeling again.  Having situational awareness (i.e. head on a swivel) is something that is learned from being in a dangerous environment, and allows people to see a problem coming before it is too late to do something about it.  Having the wisdom that comes from making the hard mistakes, and learning from them is critical to leadership.  Don’t ONLY look at someone’s education when deciding who to bring on your team – street smarts don’t fit well on a resume’.  A well rounded team has both intelligence and wisdom in good measure – and is most likely to be the best team.

Speaking of grades and schools…


Rubes cartoons used with permission.




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