Monday, March 8, 2010

15 Ways To Get Smarter (and wiser)

Happy Monday.

Intelligence is beauty and knowledge is power. So, seek knowledge and be intelligent. Here’s how you do it.

1. Think outside the box
Have you ever got stuck trying to solve a problem? Well, you’re not alone. “For every problem, there is a solution” seem very far from truth when we found ourselves in this situation. I used to remember what my father told me, and this is probably the best advice he has ever given me. “When you are stuck trying to solve a problem, take a step back and look at it from different angles.” I don’t quite get it at first. “Take a step back… you mean literally? How does that help?” Soon I realized that what he actually meant was to look at the problem from an outsider point of view, without any assumptions made, that had me reached the dead end. In short? Think outside the box.

2. Don’t make assumptions
We all seem to have a tendency to make assumptions (and yes, I do realize this is an assumption as well… ). It seems to be in our blood to relate everything based to our experiences and opinions. Don’t. Discounting ideas or solutions just because you find it ridiculous doesn’t mean it really is. Assumptions are the one that had us stuck inside the box. In order to think outside the box, we need to consider every possible explanation. But that can only be done once we get rid of our assumptions that hinder fresh insights.

3. Ask questions
In my opinion, this is the best way to gain knowledge. Ask questions. You can ask others or to yourself. I often use this method to come up with topics to write. If you put your brain into work by asking questions and actually try to solve it, I promise that you’ll be surprise of what you are actually capable of. Well, if you haven’t already. And this is exactly what every bright mind has in common. They ask tons of questions. Scientist, writer, entrepreneur and investor are just some of them. The 6W's (why, what, who, when, where and how) makes a great companion if you know when to use it.

4. Ask the RIGHT question
But you can’t just ask any questions. Asking the right question gives us the answer we seek. Ask the wrong question however, and you’ll end up wasting your time. I find “why” and “how” very relevant to my work so I use it as often as I could. It might be the same for you, or it might not.

5. Dare to differ in opinion
We all have this herd mentality in us. Sure, they work to protect us. But there’s something you need to understand. The opinion of the majority doesn’t mean that they are right, it only means that they are popular, and nothing more. But surely they have good reasons to have the same opinion. Fair enough. But you need to understand that, we men, are easy to be manipulated by statistical numbers, the authority (government, the mainstream media and the likes) and words like “the majority…”, “most people…”, etc. Sound familiar, don’t you think? These days, I only believe what make sense to me. For everything else, I don’t bother.

6. Understanding the motive
For every action, there’s a motive behind it. Most are good, and cause no harm, and then there are some that are not. An example would be the time you’re helping your mother out with the dishes. Your motive would be for her to do less and make her happy. While it’s not important to pay attention to every motive behind an action, especially when it comes to people we can trust. After all, you don’t want to be a calculative person. However, it is still important to be aware of it. Just make sure you remember, that when things look fishy, always run the opposite direction.

7. Read books
Books are a great resource for knowledge. For the average price of a book, the things that we can actually learn from them are far more valuable. Besides, reading is always a good habit to instill, plus it’s convenient.

8. Know you are
We cannot escape from confident now can we? Even when it comes to being smart, you must first acknowledge that you are. It’s not about being overconfident or conceited for that matter. But in order to have the courage to differ in opinions, you must first have the confident to believe that yours are right.

9. Free of emotion
A good decision making is one which is free of bias and emotions. I think it’s safe to say that we all have acted on impulse at least once or twice up till now. It’s just like gambling. Sometimes, you got lucky and you hit the jackpot. Most of the time however, things don’t turn out pretty. Which is why, going through rational thinking process in making the final decision is always the best bet we can make. At the very least, everything is taken into consideration, unlike following our gut feeling.

10. Mix with people smarter than you
When it comes learning, nothing beats observing and getting the knowledge from our friends. A good example, if you often mix with people who have good sense of humor, you would, sooner or later turn into someone who also has good sense of humor. This is exactly what happened to me, not that I’m saying I have good sense of humor…. So, do try to spend some time with the people who have good knowledge in things you are interested in immersing, and you would bound to be knowledgeable in the area of your interest.

11. Learn from other people’s mistake
The best way to avoid mistakes is to learn from the mistakes of others. Be constantly aware of what and why things went wrong. This way, you won’t have to pay for the cost of ignorance to the order of how things usually work.

12. Find your mistakes
I have always tried to find new methods that can enhance my many skills. Recently however, I have come to learned that it is so much easier to find mistakes and improve them than to look for ways of doing things right.

13. Don’t put the blame on others
Usually, when we put the blame on others, we would be blind of our own mistakes. And if we don’t acknowledge or learn from our own mistakes, chances are high that we are going to repeat it. Therefore, it is always wiser to blame ourselves before finding the mistakes of others.

14. Free of prejudice
Prejudice makes us dumb. It put thoughts in our head. Thoughts that shouldn’t exist, and blind us from truth. It’s like shopping for a book. You can’t just pick up a book with a pretty cover and head to the counter can you? And then, there’ s title, author, reviews and excerpt to consider, which is why it’s always better to avoid judging based on first impression, whenever possible.

15. Have common sense
I think this goes without saying.

It's so easy to be DUMB, I had to paste this down just to remind myself.

Dem yuh!

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