On many occasions, co-workers would ask how I stayed grounded as a senior executive with the ability to connect with workers at every level and continue to “say it plain”. I was perhaps an odd ball because of my relentless quest for common sense solutions to complex problems. Before I ever heard the term “keep it simple stupid”, I heard my Mama saying “there is a thin line between a genius and a fool”. I was blessed to have her frequently remind me when I was about to cross over the line.
My intellectual capacity had been validated. I was academically bright. Be that as it may, some of the conclusions I would draw and plans of action I would undertake defied reason. I have done some incredibly foolish things. Without the ever-present grounding of my family – who by the way take no prisoners when it comes to candor – I would have become a Certified Fool.
You’re smiling because you know what I’m talking about. You know people who are credentialed up the wazoo, without the ability to work their way out of a paper bag. Yes, that would have been me except for family and a small network of friends who kept pulling my chain and bringing me back to what is real.
Education is the key that opens multiple doors of enlightened thinking and untold opportunities. Education is indeed all that and a bag of chips! I am 100% committed to life-long learning. HOWEVER, formal education without a healthy dose of common sense produces some really crazy outcomes.
Think of the manager who only reads journals to acquire skill in relating to people. The executive who talks only to himself and a legion of mini-me’s to craft strategic direction. What about the top recruited graduate in the finance department who immediately begins to “direct” corporate initiatives without having a single conversation with his (or her) peers who have worked in the company for years. While all efforts might be “theoretically sound”, they fall flat in the face of reason and common sense.
IQ (Intelligence Quotient) must be balanced with EI (Emotional Intelligence) and slathered with CS (Common Sense)! Any one of these cannot stand alone. One without the other two is lacking the “right stuff” to achieve and sustain meaningful and measurable results.
Always take pride in formal training and academic accomplishments.
Know what you know and know what you do not know.
Surround yourself with people who will strengthen your competencies and shore up areas where you are not strong.
Always administer a common sense smell test before acting on an idea.
Your level of education and title will not make a foolish idea appear brilliant.
Listen to the small voice within warning you when you are about to cross that thin line.