Blogging daily is a discipline. It's not as hard as it looks. You sit at the computer and you don't get up until your post is published. Sure there are little tricks, but that's not the hard part. The hard part is trying to be helpful. And even that isn't the hardest part. The hardest part is thinking clearly. Having a single idea that you want to share and be helpful all at the same time. That's what I've been doing this year. And we're 10 days away from making it!
But as I reflected on all that, I thought about how clarity of thought comes together. And today I want to share with you the five habits that will make you smarter. Of course, this is my take on the subject. You may have a different five.
Anyway, let's get into it….
First, Read Books & Articles
The first habit is one I started long ago. It was harder back then because carrying a book or two with you everywhere you went required a bit of planning. Now with your phone, you can carry an unlimited amount of articles and digital books with you anywhere you go.
Today I went to get my booster shot and I had to sit and wait for my turn to get poked. Perfect time to keep reading a book I'm reading.
Reading gives you access to someone else's brilliance. Reading gives you a way to see the world through a different pair of eyes. Very few things will challenge and change you as reading will. So do it often.
Second, Write Blog Posts
Reading will push ideas into your head. Then the trick is to move things from inside your head to outside of them. That's where blog posts come in. Writing, even if no one else is reading, will help you think more clearly.
In our heads we can skip steps. We can jump from one idea to another even if we took an illogical step. Because we don't “have to show our work.”
My son loves doing math in his head and it drives my wife insane. All she wants is for him to show his work. It makes it easier for us to see where he made a mistake. And it makes him better at math.
The same is true for thinking, clarity, and effective communication. We get better at all of that when we learn to write (and write more often).
Third, Present in Public
Of the five habits that will make you smarter, this one scares most people the most. And I get it – speaking in front of a large crowd can be frightening. But you don't have to start with an audience of 3,000.
Start with any meeting you're in, even with 4 people in it, and learn to take the risk to step up and present. Make a case. Craft and present a pitch.
It's more of the same I've been writing about already – it helps you with clarity of thought.
Most of the time we start making a point and then get distracted. That distracts others and we never get to the end. Sometimes we even say, “What was my point?”
Getting smarter, in my opinion, isn't about innate ability or IQ. It's about habits that you can develop – that anyone can develop. And these first three about reading, writing, and speaking are all critical habits to help you develop into a smarter person.
Next, Connect with Community
Mike Tyson once said, “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” Years later he was interviewed and he elaborated on his famous quote.
I think the same thing applies to our ideas. They sound great in our heads. But it's not until you put them into a community – where the ideas have to stand up to others (and their challenges) – that you know whether they're any good.
Learning to make the case, learning how to craft the pitch, learning how to push back or enhance your argument – all of that comes in the context of sharing an idea in a safe space where you can get feedback.
Trust me, it will make you smarter.
Lastly, Mentor & Teach Others
I saved the best for last. Looking for habits that will make you smarter? Nothing will help you learn something as much as teaching it. It's one of those things that by now sounds like I'm repeating a theme.
We don't get smarter by being “in our heads” all day. We have to get the ideas out and we have to put them into a form for someone else so they can consume it.
Most importantly, by helping someone else learn something, we're seeing whether our idea is only good in our own specific context, or if it's more applicable. Once you know it works, it's a lot of fun to share it.
It's one of my favorite things about coaching. When I provide a framework to help someone think about a problem, I know they're going to have an “aha” moment.
And when I'm developing a new framework, it's also where I get to go back and forth with the concept, the idea, and the way it's presented.
These Five Habits Will Make You Smarter
These five habits are five distinct habits you can embrace that will make you smarter. But in another real sense, all of this comes down to one core concept which is that your ideas will mature when they're put into the world to be tested.
As I wrap up this year of daily blogging, and still figure out what's going to happen next year, I hope some of these ideas have seriously helped make you smarter.
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