As you go through life, you learn truths. Life is humbling, and one of the best truths I’ve learned is that if you think you’re smart, you’re really not.
So, I started my post high-school education at a local community college. It was cheaper and the classes were smaller. It was a better transition, but the classes weren’t that hard. I could put a little bit of work and get a B, maybe an A.
So after two years, I move on to the University of South Florida and apply for the School of Accountancy. Now, you had to pass the first class, Intermediate Financial Accounting 1, in order to take any of the other classes. They warned us this class was hard, but I didn’t pay much heed. I was smart. I was a genius. With a little bit of study, I’d get a B, maybe an A.
First test I get a C. Next test, I get a D. I was close to failing the class and having to take it over again.
What I learned was I was not as smart as I thought I was. Any time you think your a genius, as I thought, the world will find a way to bring you back into reality. I thought I was so smart because I could pass freshmen and sophomore level classes at a community college. But when I got to the big league, I thought I was smart enough that I didn’t have to study a lot. I did well in my other college classes. But accounting was different.
Socrates, the man the oracles called the smartest man in Greece, said “I know that I know nothing.” True genius comes from not knowing. It comes from knowing your limits. If you think you’re smart, you’ll never really be smart. I know a guy who always gloated about how smart he was and how much he knew. But in reality, he knew nothing. He could regurgitate facts, but you could tell he didn’t really know much. He wasn’t really smart because he thought he was smart.
To really get it, to really be smart, is learning your own limitations. I passed Intermediate Financial Accounting 1 because I knew I didn’t know accounting. I had to study hard. I got an 88 on the last test and passed with a C. That class forever shaped my understanding of intelligence. I only became smart because I learned that I knew nothing.
If you want to achieve true intelligence, you must realize that you aren’t as smart as you think you are.