There used to be a measure for “smart”… What was the depth of your expertise ? Could you show the refinement and ability to deliver that came with Gladwell’s mythical 10,000 hours? Your 20 years of experience made you ready to lead a team developing a new project.
Now, there is a new smart. How quickly can you learn critical skills ? Do you have the ability to find and use knowledge on a topic that didn’t exist 18 months ago ? Do you know where to connect to the community of niche experts who can pull this off ?
The difference ? We exist now primarily digitally, and it changes the way we do everything. The last era of such a profound societal change was when Gutenberg made the printing press.
Because of our parallel digital world, we learn differently now. We are (or should be), permanent learners.
We have high fidelity information about ourselves and our interests now, available at all times in our pocket; and it is changing us, and our behavior.
This technology is making us more powerful and nimble than ever before. It is also making us cheerfully codependent.
There is no going back.
Rote remembering used to be what smart was. Not anymore. Now an ability to rapidly learn, respond, and apply is the gold standard.
I’m not putting this out there to scare or discourage. All of us are capable of this permanent student status.
A wise counselor once told me “Bob, if you know something 5 minutes before everybody else, that 5 minutes makes you the expert”.
Go learn. Find niche communities. Be the expert. It’s the new smart.