Don’t be the smartest person in the room, instead be the freest person in the room. Free in your mind, free with your time, free to live in your own way, on your own terms. In fact, I’m not sure this can be bettered.
What is smart anyway?
People tend to think of being smart as a generalisable thing, but intelligence is highly domain specific. A contemporary dancer and an abstract mathematician will likely have different kinds of intelligence, both of which we must celebrate. And, whose specific kind of smartness matters more, depends on what room you are in. This is the first point to appreciate.
Second, leaving aside the problem of measuring smartness outside of its relevant domain, we must also ask about its purpose. When people aim to be the smartest person in the room, they usually betray wanting to win and be right. It tells us more about their insecure desire for status and recognition than about anything else.
Third, what if the room is very small and made up of mediocre practitioners to begin with? How limiting it is simply to be the smartest person in that room. But, does it then make sense to try and be the smartest person in every (relevant) room? Does it become a kind of world championship? A much more robust approach is to focus on skill and mastery, a commitment to learning, fun and seeking the truth.
Don’t be the smartest person in the room, be the freest
Seeing the anxious, egoistic drive behind wanting to be the smartest person leads us to consider alternatives, and being the freest person in the room ranks right up there. What’s more, we don’t have to make it a competition either. If you feel free and comfortable within yourself and have control over your time, you lose nothing if others enjoy the same. Actually, it creates a more empowered and collaborative community.
Finally, even if you somehow become the smartest person in every room, does it really matter? Does any of it matter without a sense of freedom and contentment within yourself? The first step is seeing the fallacy of being the-most-whatever person in the room. Seeing how we can so easily torment ourselves with endless and meaningless comparisons.
Noticing how you relate to yourself is the beginning of finding freedom within yourself.
Harsha is a 1:1 coach and independent thinker based in London. He empowers people to find more clarity, confidence and focus in their lives — to cut through the noise, in a world so full of it. Harsha’s new book, Machine Ego: Tragedy of the Modern Mind, is now available in paperback and Kindle through Amazon.