A while ago, a colleague of mine found a set of keys on the sofa while in the lounge area that our company shared with other companies. He immediately asked our group if we had lost our keys and when everyone's found their favorite beer opening key chain (we were young) in their pocket, my colleague promptly brought the keys to the building manager.
The building manager, after checking with all the other companies in the building, still had not found the owner for the keys. He came to our room where we're all sitting and asked if we all had our keys. By instinct everyone's hand went to their pocket again to double check, as is often the case when someone asked if someone is missing something. "Oh, I lost my keys!" says the guy who found them in the first place! He brought is own set of keys to lost and found. This guys was smart, he showed me how to play Go.
Another friend of mine went to the arcade and played a side scroller shoot them up game. He says "I remember how good I was playing them, especially since it was my first playing this game". After a good couple of minutes being awesome at this game, a guy came and force himself by him and on the machine. "I couldn't believe the audacity of this guy, to just push me aside like that". Than the newcomer dropped a quarter in the machine which promptly put the machine out of demo mode. "It wasn’t even me playing after all! I just walked away".
I swear this guy is one of the smartest guy I know. Although he was never as good as on that day at playing video games, he can make sense of very complex problems and "cut through the crap" that can sometime accompanied multiple level of management.
Seth Godin said in Linchpin: “Everyone, every single person, has been a genius at least once. Everyone has winged it, invented, and created their way out of a jam at least once”. I fully agree with him. I’ve been in plenty of meetings where the source of a much needed answer did not come from the expected “thinkers or leaders”.
On the opposite end, you find Scott Adams, Dilbert cartoonist who said: “No matter how smart you are, you spend much of your day being an idiot”. I can certainly vouch for this myself.
Only when you put the two lines of thinking together can you really appreciate the big picture of your daily life.
Most people go through their days patting themselves on the back when they do something smart, and so they should. What we don't do enough is to stop and think if we did something really stupid. We should celebrate our victories, but we should also give a good retrospection on our failures.
Next time, I’ll be picking on a personal example of doing stupid things, even though I might have looked smart doing it. The smart idiots are always the most dangerous!