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Saturday, August 16, 2008

So You're Too Smart For Your Own Good??

(Out of the loop for a while. Dragging around the poor team on various treks in the Hawaiian islands. Let's crank this out real fast and raw.)

If you’ve ever suspected that you’re too smart for your own good, today’s article is for you.

First of all you’re probably wondering “What the heck does it mean to be too smart for your own good?”

You can have many types of intelligence.

Book smarts. Street smarts. A genius with music. A genius with locating discount grocery store coupons.

Whatever.

This being a blog about “social dynamics” the topic is how being a smarty-pants plays out in your social life.

There's a few main areas I've personally noticed over the years.

Let's run 'em through.

THINKING WHILE OTHER PEOPLE TALK:

Right off the bat, if you’re the kind of person who creates a lot of value by THINKING then it’s probably going to be hard to locate the off-switch.

Learning is an addiction.

Once your brain has been forced into a gear where it’s learning all the time it goes from being tiring and annoying to enlivening and awesome.

You start to see the bigger picture and realize all the potential.

Over the years you become a fiend for more knowledge.

"MORE BITCH....MOOOOOOOOOOOORE."

The same goes for analysing information into useable, practical bite-sized chunks.

Analysis is an addiction. So you think and think, and then think and think some more.

The problem is that while other people are talking, what are you doing??

THINKING.

After all, if you’re thinking in terms of big picture concepts then you’re probably holding up all sorts of images in your head and trying to weave them together into something coherent.

Ironically it’s often when you relax for a minute (while listening) that the jumble of information starts to congele into some sort of epiphany.

So you’re listening to somebody and –C-L-I-C-K- you have a realization.

"Wait a sec man...Wait a sec...Did you realize blah blah blah blah blah blah blah..."

The problem here is that it’s always about YOU.

You’re interrupting the other person and they don’t feel like you’re listening to them.

The solution to this one is to make a firm life commitment to “let some of them go” in terms of your ideas.

This was actually a point made to me about five years ago by a buddy of mine.

He told me point blank “Dude you HAVE to decide what’s more important to you. Vocalizing every idea or having people think you’re a cool guy. It’s up to you.”

I said to him “Yeah but my attention span is short. If I don’t get it out I’ll lose it.”

Again he said “It’s up to you man. It’s one or the other. Do what you want but it’s up to you.”

This hit me hard and I never forgot it. From then on whenever anyone spoke I made the choice to listen to them one hundred percent.

The bottom line is that when another person is talking, you have to allow your awareness to be on THEM as opposed to your own train of thought.

If you have a realization while they’re talking you have to accept that you might lose it.

"I might forget this and NEVER get it back. That’s fine. The world will be OK."

TELLING PEOPLE THAT YOU’VE ALREADY THOUGHT OF THEIR IDEAS:

Next is probably one of the biggest ways that “smart folk” successfully alienate themselves from untold legions of people.

That’s that in all likelihood, you’ve already thought of almost every idea that the majority of people have ever had.

Now of course, that doesn’t mean that you have nothing to learn from people.

It’s just that the average person who is trapped in the day-to-day grind of running the rat race and keeping up with the Jones’ probably hasn’t had a lot of "free time" to consider their ideas under a microscope.

They’re either too busy or too indifferent. They have other priorities.

The result is that when they share with you an idea they’re really proud of, you’ve probably already thought of it, analysed it, and weighed out the pros and cons.

The problem with this is that there’s nothing more obnoxious than when somebody shares an idea and you say “Oh yeah I already thought of that. Have you considered blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah...”

Many years ago I remember there was this guy who worked at the Pita Pit who told me the most genius idea he ever had.

Are you ready for it??

It was to create a website called www.bootycall.com.

He even made me to promise to hold it as a secret so he could make the millions, although I guess I kind of blew that one by posting it here.

Sorry!!

I offered him a litany of good reasons it was a non-practical idea, and as you can expect, he was super appreciate.

Uhhhhhhh, or not.

The issue is that you might think you’re helping the other person but they’ll almost always dislike you for it.

And with good reason.

Most likely they were NOT asking you for your advice. They were just socializing and wanted to get excited about something with you.

Or maybe, just maybe, they want to make their own mistakes?? Ever thought of that one.....SMART GUY??

Instead you’ve got to learn the art of saying “Oh cool man...That sounds awesome.”

This allows people to feel good about themselves, and even cooler, you come across as intelligent automatically because most people care more about being understood than receiving critical feedback.

Obviously there’s cases where people want real feedback, and that’s a matter of common sense.

But you already knew that.

Truth be told you REALLY CAN learn something from everybody. Even people who appear not to be "with it" entirely.

It might not be "analytical" but it can be very practical, and a lot deeper than you would ever expect.

In my opinion it's the people who realize that they can learn from every single person they meet who are the most intelligent.

GIVING ADVICE TO PEOPLE WHO ARE ALREADY HAPPY WITH WHERE THEY’RE AT:

Over the years I’d say that the dumbest, most useless thing I’ve ever done is offer advice to people who are perfectly happy with where they’re at.

The key to understand here is that the smarter you are, the more likely you are to be dissatisfied.

Why??

Because you know what your potential is.

You know full well how to make an outstanding life, exactly what it would look like, and the steps involved in building it.

But most people are happy with easier, simpler lives. They appreciate the little things.

It might sound belittling but it’s not.

Having travelled South America, Mexico, and Africa this year, I can say for sure that many people who appreciate the little things have a very DIFFERENT KIND OF INTELLIGENCE than the so called “intelligentsia”.

They’ve learned to love life passionately and gain happiness from the fun they share with people around them. Or maybe from playing soccer or a musical instrument. It doesn’t matter.

That doesn’t mean that you can’t have both an outstanding life and an appreciation for the little things, but many people simply do not need that.

(And trying to convince otherwise them is no different than an advertiser who tries to make you feel incomplete for not owning their product).

Up until about two years ago I would give advice to anyone who I thought could benefit.

Then I started restricting who I would offer advice to, and even actively changing the topic when people asked for it.

From there I picked up the extra slack by “brain-dumping” the people who I care about the most -- because I always wanted them up to speed with all the cool stuff I'd figured out.

However I’ve since realized, funny enough as recently as this week, that that is not a good way of relating to them, and in fact it’s even MORE important not to bombard people who are close to me with advice.

It might come from a super positive intention, but it’s not serving the greater good of the relationship.

Here is the rule I’ve since devised.

If you’re talking to somebody in casual conversation, the only time you offer advice is when you say “I could offer some advice if you want.”

That means it’s very specific that you are now “offering advice” and it does three things.

First it’s just a lot more polite in case the person wants to say “Ahhhh actually screw it, I really don’t care that much.”

Second, it confirms that you’re doing the other person a favour, as opposed to being an annoying dude who bombards people with your opinions.

And third, which I think is most important, is that it forces you to be aware of how often you’re giving advice. You can’t very easily say “I can offer you some advice” more than once or at most twice in a conversation, so it pretty much autocorrects the whole tendency.

In fact this rabbit hole also goes deeper than you might have realized.

When you offer too much advice to people you're close with they may stop taking care of themselves.

They’ll begrudgingly accept your role as the “dad” while simultaneously being somewhat annoyed in circumstances where you haven’t taken care of everything.

You have to let people make their own mistakes.

Chances are that YOU gained your best knowledge through various screw-ups, and you have to give people the gift of making these screw-ups for themselves.

This week I’ve made a firm resolution to offer advice to people only within two contexts.

First is if they make an appointment to ask for it, and second if I’m being paid within a professional context.

Make sense??

Good. I hope you appreciate this advice.

JUDGING PEOPLE BY YOUR OWN STANDARDS INSTEAD OF LETTING THEM LIVE THEIR LIVES:

Hands down, I’d say one of the biggest problems that smart people have with meeting women is that they harbour an arrogance that most girls are simply not on their “level”.

"She’s not smart enough for me...She’s LUCKY I would even talk to her."

This is 180 degrees different from the playful cockiness that a lot of cool, attractive guys have.

The issue here is a deep seated incongruence between your belief about a woman’s so-called “worth” and the fact that you STILL want to sleep with her.

On one level you’re trying to imagine yourself as being superior. But on another level you feel the desire to be with her.

Maybe she works at a make-up counter and likes to read “US Magazine”. Maybe she actually cares about being trendy and listens to Brittany Spears. But you still want her and it bothers you because on some level a rejection would make you feel de-valued.

The issue here is that there is a difference between an intellectual connection and an emotional/physical connection.

You want a physical connection with her, not an intellectual one. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. They are both absolutely valid.

Your desire for her is because she’s developed a side of her femininity that you find exotic and engaging. As a man, to attract a girl like that, you have to develop your masculinity on a similar level.

The “worth” of a person is not defined by their level of actualization, because that is every person’s personal preference. You might judge a girl negatively for it, but really you are just judging yourself.

And you don’t have to.

Just because you don’t judge somebody else doesn’t mean you give up your own personal standards.

It actually means that you’re smart enough to distinguish the needs of other people from your own.

FAILING TO SEPARATE WORK FROM PLAY:

And the mind goes “Whiiiiiiiirlllllll and whirrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrllllll!!”

Vroom, vroom, and more vroom. It just doesn’t want to stop.

And that’s a good thing because it gets you success, while other poor saps languish in a purgatory of mediocrity.

But to have a satisfying and happy life, you have to have firm distinctions between your time for work and your time for play.

Otherwise you wind up like Howard Hughes. Who appears pretty cool in “The Aviator” but is not actually how you want to wind up.

Morning = 20 minutes meditation.

That gets your day off on the right foot.

From there you need firm resolutions that you will NOT violate as to when you’ll let your mind run off in all its crazy, albeit highly productive directions.

If you do your best thinking at night then allocate 8 hours at night to do so. Whatever. All that matters is that work is work, time off is time off.

Force yourself to stick to this.

Punish yourself by NOT writing down your best ideas that you have outside of the work period, otherwise it will never stop.

You’ll work, work, work, and then DIE having done nothing but work.

Not very cool. Or sustainable. Or attractive to girls. AT ALL.

Hope that’s useful!!

Tyler

45 comments:

Tarzan said...

Tyler, awesome article, this is exactly what I needed :) thanks!

Anonymous said...

I got a lot from this man. Big ups. When someone is talking I always interrupt and give my opinion or ideas. This breaks the vibe and people think I'm weird. I just got to let it go man. Awesome

fullcrum said...

Very cool!

Super applicable article to me as I've been doing summer work and am now starting my own business. This reminded me of what I need to know. Thanks!~

Anonymous said...

This was perfect timing, maybe inspired by one of my forum posts :)

Whether it will help me in the real world, I don't know. Hopefully

Thank you

qedisk said...

Awesome observation. I hope this is going to help me with relating to people.

veronica hayes said...

first!! hahahahahah :D

robotboner said...

thanks bud. i liked that.

Patrick Shields said...

I really appreciate this article. I've always felt the effects of sharing my advice too frequently, trying to enlighten people who are already happy with their lives, etc., and now I have some tools to use to maintain healthy relationships. Thanks!

Personally, I think I will choose to keep certain ideas even if it means not listening to a person. I would rather make some serious progress than have a normal conversation, given the choice.

Pimp of Persia said...

Love it Tyler... very insightful.

Scott said...

Fantastic stuff Tyler.

What really hit home for me is the distinction between the intellectual connection and the physical/emotional connection.

Academic knowledge/analytical ability is in an entirely different sphere than masculine polarity/being socially savvy. Thus, I have to accept that when I am looking to serve my human needs and give value in the physical/emotional sphere of my life, the value judgments I make (i.e. how physically attractive a girl is) are completely different from this I would make in the intellectual sphere (i.e. how intelligent a girl or guy is).

And here we are in the intellectual sphere analyzing how we should behave in the physical/emotional sphere. I guess that's how things can get mixed up.

Postman said...

[i]"You might judge a girl negatively for it, [b]but really you are just judging yourself.[/b]"[/i]

What do you mean by that phrase ?

Anonymous said...

"You know full well how to make an outstanding life, exactly what it would look like, and the steps involved in building it."

but you don't. simply because the plateau(s) completely annihilate your spirit. whereas simple minds fully living a chody glued to the plateau life can't help but get places someday. well not the places you picture for yourself but still way ahead of you.

errr me.

Anonymous said...

Oh man... that was super helpful. Thanks a lot

CraC said...

awesome. very practical. thank you.

Climax said...

not thinking at all when peoples talk
put the attention on them not on you

major clicks, thanks Owen

btw have you considered not being so awesome for once ?

Anonymous said...

This is a good post.
It took me about six years to figure this stuff out on my own, if only I had read this!

Nadav said...

yo man thats cool. because I was just thinking about that the other day. I think I might be telepathic :P

Anonymous said...

good post tyler

i never figured that people may want to and even need to make their own mistakes

improvingame said...

awesome article. I especially like how this one feels "closer" to the articles you wrote on the blog in 2007.

Anonymous said...

Just what I needed Tyler ! Thanks!
Lol!(at the risk of sounding pompous)...as a 27 yr old ,over educated professional(doctor) with 2 post graduate degrees... and a few other business interests...I have been hugely guilty of most of the errors mentioned in the post...
From today ,I officially count you as my friend...(who seems to know me... a bit..) :-)

Tushar

Anonymous said...

Tyyyyyyyler.... How r u doing bro?
Good!! I am glad you developing yourself. Outstandng article...I liked the advice bit, i gave advice to everyone and i was wondering why people dont like me;))) now i know
Thanks Bro... Any chance of chatting with Tyler live? Like people write to you and you respond - - kinda chat room? DO YOU EVER READ WHAT PEOPLE WRITE.... Give a sign or at leas in the next blog article write '' I read'' or at least ''IR'' = i read
thankkkksssss man
keep da blog going it helped me in many ways
P.S I bought ''the blueprint decoded'' and it's fabulous. worth of the money - in fact worth more
Anyways See ya on one of the bootcamps or in da town or wherever....
Regards Jersianno

Vince said...

This post is beautiful man. Cheers. I used to have the problem of putting everyones ideas down myself but learned to control myself a while back...and on the giving advice...I struggle with that occasionally still...though my blog and the forums have fast become an outlet - allowing to relax a little more in other situations.

Abower said...

I'm going to print this and pin it in my room.

I love the subject of this article!

Anonymous said...

Always good to have something interesting to read on a Sunday morning..! : )

- The Duck

Anonymous said...

really useful article!

Pavo said...

Hey don't know if you've already seen this classic post on the forum but it's highly relevant to your article... and better :P

http://www.rsdnation.com/showthread.php?t=16805&page=3

Anonymous said...

gold...tyler i will meet you someday...hopefully soon.

t-man said...

"Punish yourself by NOT writing down your best ideas that you have outside of the work period, otherwise it will never stop."

Im just listening to a great program by David Allen on management called Getting things done fast. In this program he actually encourages people to always carry a notepad, so you can write down ideas that comes to your mind. This will, acording to him, help you to free your mind and being more present. Wondering if you have any comments on that?

Great article btw, confirmed alot of things I've been reflecting on lately

Anonymous said...

Wow.
This one hit me pretty hard, almost left a sinking feeling in my stomach.
Now I have to go around THINKING about this new problem I have! Great!

Haha, kidding, thanks.

Anonymous said...

Good Shit

- John Kennedy

Yahya said...

Amazing article... thanks.

Anonymous said...

Hey owen.

I am thinking of moving to honolulu to live there for a few months because I wanna improve my pick up skills and there I can arrange something so that you can be something of a personal mentor/coach in an ongoing base. I would get into more details but I rather not here. My Email is mahdig@yorku.ca and I'd really really appreciate if you drop me a line so then in a reply I can explain to you exactly what my plan is and if you would be able accomidate it. hope to hear from you. mahdi

Anonymous said...

so wierd, whenever I have some hangup I come here, and EVERY time I do this, the article is exaclty what I needed. its so crazy.

Felix N. said...

Hey Owen, hey guys!

Today I had a date with a girl and she's pretty, but she was talking and talking. She was talking about her dog, her girlfriend, the party yesterday and it seemed to me that this has no end.

On the one hand I resolved to be curious and listen to her. But on the other hand I thought: "Isn't that incongruent what I'm doing here? I should say to her that she has to stop talking or sth. like that."

Hm... I'd like to get some advice :)

Cheers,

Felix

Anonymous said...

Wow!!
This was fucking cool, man!

I can relate to everything you said so much!
Very useful.

Thank you

F1ow said...

Hey Tyler,

Awesome article! Some thoughts this brought up:

I've spent a lot of time offering advice (trying to offer value), but have not been aware that perhaps I've been going about it the wrong way (that may come from a taking value stand point because I'm essentially trying to force my advice and assistance on people). haha bummer! Here I am trying to reduce World Chodeliness to little or no effect... so I called Tony Robbins live coaches, got a free 30 minutes coaching session, and asked how I could motivate people and get them into developing themselves in this respect. They were very helpful – I highly recommend them to anyone. They basically gave me the conclusions you arrived to, plus a few more things that helped a lot, which I’m sure you will enjoy:

- You should only offer advice if they are ALREADY INTERESTED in knowing or ASKING YOU for it.
- You CAN ONLY CONTROL YOURSELF – you cannot fully control the outside world and other people. You only have “influence,” at best.
- Your best chance of actually convincing them to want your advice is to BE A LIVING EXAMPLE. Have them see you and say “Wow. I want that!” I think a live demonstration would be in order (probably the best way to motivate them).
- If they do decide to want your advice, don’t offer it for free. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to charge them for it, but they have to INVEST somehow in order for it to have any value in their minds.

Random thoughts:

Dance Polite-Advice-Giving Incongruence –

I was dancing salsa with a girl and we were practicing some moves but both she and I was having trouble figuring some parts out. I felt uncomfortably compelled to correct hers as I’m sure she did mine (‘cause she tried, and it felt weird for the both of us). What I think was even more weird, though, was this idea of “trying to be polite” about the corrections. Sure, neither of us was in a position to judge (we’re not experts), but nevertheless what I noticed was that both of us were trying to be polite about our judgements/corrections of each other. At least on my end, I felt very awkward and incongruent with TRYING to be polite (bad social conditioning?)… and she definitely felt it too, as I could tell by looking at her face. So, I decided to cut this politeness shit (and just state it as frankly as possible, yet also be fun about it. I’m not advocating bitching someone out purposely when I talk about disregarding the politeness, btw. Anyway, I playfully and in a cocky manner said, “OMG that is TOOOOTALLY WROONNG!! Try this… ok now do that…” etc and we shortly thereafter got it down. Done. This reminded my of Tim’s Wooo + Intent… translation: Balance making things fun and getting to the point as quickly, directly, and efficiently as possible.


Elaboration on Belief vs. Understanding –

I don't think that comprehending something is completely logical, but also emotional, and perhaps even moreso. Just like the indifference threshold, state, being good with women, etc. It seems to have a potent emotional component. When you are in state, you really UNDERSTAND how it is to be on a roll, beyond a belief as you mentioned in the blueprint. In other words, my theory is that the belief/mindset is the logical component while the understanding is the feeling/emotion that substantiates it (developed through reference experiences, e.g.), as contradictory as it might sound. The belief is like the shell of the blueprint or the silhouette while the understanding is the substance within that gives it fullness and color.

I broke down the "belief" portion of the "flawlessness" that Tim speaks about or "Full range of emotions" aspect of the attraction equation, for example, and sent it in an email to myself:

Flawless open structure - high value + full range of emotions
Aim for positive (have good intentions - giving value/fun), but if it's negative there's always a solution
Positive spike = attraction
Negative spike = attraction
or Negative spike = congruence test -> demonstrate HV = attraction
or Negative spike = problem -> apologize -> continue
or Negative spike = she leaves -> next girl / try again later

Thus, as long as you're congruent (coming from your core) and have good intentions, you can basically say/do anything... it's not so much about what is the "right" thing to say as much as it is removing your own mental restrictions on expressing yourself. However, this is not truly “understood” until you’re out there, in state, getting the reference experiences and creating that FEELING of UNDERSTANDING that is as certain as the feeling of comfort and ease that you have UNDERSTANDING that the ground you are standing on right now will hold you up.

I don’t know if this is something that should be posted on the RSD forums, but if it should be, let me know. Hope this helps!

Stay Excellent,

F1ow

Anonymous said...

Yeah - some aspects of this advice is something that I've started realising over the last 8 years as a parent. And some of it has transferred into my job as a people manager. You HAVE to take a step back sometimes and provide a supporting role and coach from the sidelines. And that's hard if, like many of us, you're a smart, driven, impatient, high energy person by nature.

Anonymous said...

The Happiest Person Wins.

The End.

p.s. HOW you get there has ZERO relevance. Need to meditate, so be it. Need to study 22 hours a day, so be it. Need to etc, etc.

MD

RichBristol said...

Yep!!!

The most successful people I know are GREAT at compartmentalising. Like, really really good at shifting gears when the time comes.

Like you said, work and play are each separate muscles that need working. IMO Shifting gears is also a muscle in itself too.

In the bigger picture, there seem to be disproportionately negative consequences to letting one area of your life slide completely, vs doing the bare minimum to maintain it.

It doesn't take much to maintain any one area, but it takes alot to build it back up once it's slid for a while.

e.g:

-if you're working ultra-hard for 2 months, going out even just once a week and socialising for a couple of hours makes a HUGE difference vs not going out at all.

-if you're travelling for 2 months it's MUCH better to just do a quick 40 min full-body workout once or twice a week than not at all.

..etc.

So although you dont need perfect balance (and its probably optimal to focus on one area at a time) it pays to keep other areas on the maintenance back burner.

Letting one corner of the health/wealth/relationships triangle slide much below maintenance is really sub-optimal compared to where you'd be at if you'd kept it at bare minimum maintenance level.

That's probably more than obvious to any balanced individual. Worth remembering though for us single-minded obsessive types :o

Anonymous said...

The post is just awesome!
Thanx man!

Solomon King said...

Awesome article man. I'm exactly the kind of person you describe, always advising, thinking for other people, working like donkeys on steroids.

Thank you. This has forced me to reflect a lot more on what I could be doing to other people.

Will be back many many times

Anti-Social Life said...

I already knew all of this. Had to say it.

MAG said...

Thanks for all your work Owen.

Eben said...

I'm awestruck.

You continually blow me away.

Borana Lushaj said...

Hey, after reading my paper, my professor told me few days ago that I am too smart for my own good. Does that mean that she thinks I am arrogant? Apparently the problem is that I make too many judgements. I would really like to get rid of that, coz I do not want to come off as someone who makes judgements about issues without inspecting them at depth, but at the same time, I cannot read something without having a point of view even if there are ten other books wich deal with the issue, and where I might find other information that might change my judgement. But the thing is I am open to new ideas...but I guess I should learn not to come on so strongly about mine...maybe...dunno...help...