It’s time to be smarter.

Being smarter is easier now. Why? Because you have immediate access to people all over the world from that device in your pocket. It’s never been easier to connect and to leverage the expertise of others — and to offer your help to those who need it. An optimist might say that everything is in place for a golden age of problem solving.

einsteinAnd just in time, as we have some serious problems to solve. There’s just one thing in the way. Stupidity. It takes many forms:

  • Pig-headed stubbornness
  • Trouble getting motivated
  • An inability to discern the forest for the trees
  • Greed
  • Avarice

Whatever, I’m going to lump them all under the category of stupid. The point is, we’re smarter together, and we’re going to require each other’s help if we’re not each going to be blind-sided by that thing we’re not seeing — the thing that is going to mess us up and set us back.

Have you seen Khan Academy? Udacity? Free college courses online! To quietly insist on self-reliance today, or to boldly project yourself as The One Who Has All The Answers, these are stupid.

We’re not just smarter when we work together. We create more value. We develop more sustainable solutions when we think about how our plans impact others.

Being smarter starts with communicating more effectively. First that means listening, trying hard to actually discern the real intent of another person’s words. Realizing for a moment, that while you’re the star of your own movie, you’re a bit player in everyone else’s. That’s how it is for all of us, and it’s OK.

Step two is to try to tell a better story, one that’s bigger than just the story of yourself (newsflash — to everyone else, that’s boring). People want a narrative that connects them to other people and compels them to action. That’s a smarter story.

It takes courage to break the comfortable pattern, to really listen and try to reach out with a bigger story.  And no one’s going to do it for you, you have to do it yourself.  To believe otherwise would be stupid.

Don’t be stupid.

When one of us gets smarter, we all do, right?  So imagine what would happen if we all committed to the basics as outlined above: Learn from mistakes, your own and others’. Ask for help when you need it, give help when you can. Tell a bigger story, one that connects with other people and compels then to action.

What do you think could happen?