Being smart vs. Powerful

Lately, the world has been producing many different stories of smart vs. powerful for me.

  • There was the GME stock fiasco. Retail investors saw a smart opportunity, but powerful hedge funds shut it down.
  • I’m reading a book about history of humanity, and the apex predators prior to humans didn’t always have the smartest standing at the top.
  • And then I’ve seen debates about whether artificial intelligence will ever be smarter than a person, or simply more powerful. For a wild example, being able to trigger all the nuclear weapons at once doesn’t take as much intelligence as a single person, but it’s more power than a person has.

This has made me reflect on my own thoughts on the subject throughout my life. People always told me I could do anything because I was smart when I was a kid. I believed them. Without any other life experience, what else could I believe?

For me, power has always felt like a dirty word. I don’t particularly want to have power over anyone, but the reality is being smart is a step to having the power to make a change. A smart economist could see the possibilities for policies that would raise the standard of living. Does he have the power to make those changes?

Not likely.

What does that economist need?

Power. Not the rule the world with violence sort of power, but the most basic kind, public support. So, what are skills needed to acquire this?

  • Promoting your ideas through education in order to create the support you need.
  • Having a large network of people that can connect you to the right rooms to be in.
  • Being able to articulate your thoughts to groups with different backgrounds.

Keep in mind when I say “power” it doesn’t have to be at the world-changing level. It doesn’t have to be self-driving cars or climate change technology. It could be the power to change software for an industry that employs 1,000 people. Or it could be smaller than that. Being smart is something, but it’s not everything. Don’t forget to focus on the other aspects needed to make a positive change in the world.