Or… “How to Become an Expert on Anything”
I had a room-mate in college (Shyama). The guy was an absolute genius. Over time, I found that he would spend a lot of time trying to figure things out himself. He never asked anyone for help.
On the other hand, I found that almost all of the lot-less-intelligent guys (mere mortals) would be the first to ask someone else for help if they got stuck with something – anything at all.
But this theory didn’t occur to me until many years later, when I was working with/for people in the real world.
I noticed an uncannily similar trend there too – the really smart guys never asked dumb questions (in fact, they never asked anyone for any help at all) – and the ones who were quick to say “Can I ask you a dumb question?” were really dumb (or had very average IQ’s) more often than not.
I may not be able to prove it, but I honestly believe I have increased my intelligence 10-fold (and my IQ by at least 50 points) in the last 15 years. And I owe it all to my theory above – and to think that I was operating without even being aware of it.
My theory works on many levels:
1) By not asking others for help, and by sticking to the “I’ll figure it all myself” theory, you are forced to think for yourself, struggle to figure things out alone, spend countless hours “breaking your head” while you desperately try to arrive at a solution before the deadline.
Yes, you will take a lot longer to complete your projects, but in the end, the end will justify the means. It will tremendously expand your “thinking cells” and possibly your “memory cells” as you dig deeper and deeper into your subconscious, your mind, your intelligence and your knowledgebase – in an effort to address your problem.
2) Because you never ask people any silly or dumb questions – or at least exhibit that you won’t ask unless you are *really* stuck – you have then tremendously increased your chances of being regarded as the “Guy (or Gal) who looks like s/he knows his/her stuff”…. or: “The guy must know a lot as I’ve never seen him go to anyone for help”.
Yep, that’s how you start on the path to becoming an “Expert”. It all starts with other people’s perception of you.
In fact, with the arrival of Google, it became an even bigger sin to ask stupid questions. “Google it, research it, and think about it – a *lot* – before you come to me” is probably what I would say to that annoying colleague who pings you every 2 minutes from across the cubicle.
Yes, I know I’m contradicting the holy grail of religion and self-help, that says “Ask, and you shall receive…”.
But when it comes to learning, I say, “Ask, and you shall remain dumb, deservedly so”.