Book Smart, It Only Takes You So Far

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Book Smart, It Only Takes You So Far

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Are you a good reader, a good test taker, or exceptional student? Can you easily memorize the information and spit it back out? Have you been identified with being book smart?

Being book smart isn’t a career, yet neither is your ability to excel when you lack education.

Who Needs Education?

Sure, someone might quickly point out Bill Gates, Michael Dell, or Steve Jobs. Yet, these folks are anything but normal. And certainly, I mean that in a positive and respectful manner.

It seems that the most successful people, whether on their own, or in a workplace career, have something different going on.

The something different is often connected to their drive, their passion, and their persistence.

Chances are great that the best of the best have good study skills. Only, it is not in preparation for the exam.

It’s in preparation for life’s test.

Passionate people work hard. They are interested in the knowledge gain. Some of that knowledge gain may involve knowing where to look, who to ask, or even what relationships they seek to build.

That’s smart.

Memorizing Isn’t Enough

You can memorize the spec, look it up, ask the right people, or perhaps some of all three. Only memorizing it thought doesn’t guarantee you’ll know how to apply it.

In school, many great students have mastered how to study for the test. They are able to memorize and answer the questions exactly how the teacher asks. After all, the teachers success is conditioned by the students achieving good test scores.

Education matters. It matters a great deal. A lack of education is almost guaranteed to not be a sign of being smart.

Maybe more employers should look for passion as a driving factor?

Beyond Book Smart

One measurement of passion should be an interest to learn.

Sure, you may learn something by walking around. Yet, it doesn’t guarantee the ability or interest to become more.

We can learn that a rocket can lift off from the Earths surface, but that doesn’t mean we can build it or replicate it.

Perhaps we can learn that people can accomplish a lot through the shared expertise of the team, but that doesn’t mean we’re good at building teams.

We might also learn the technical spec, yet the only thing we have is the memory of the spec, not the aptitude to solve a problem outside of it.

Interest, passion, and education matter.

Book smart only takes you so far.


Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

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