Keep my ears open for the smartest person in the room

“Intelligent people learn from everything and everyone; average people learn from their experiences. The stupid people already have all the answers.” ~ Socrates

Once upon a time I was sitting across a desk from someone for a reason that now escapes me. I was probably there to talk about work.

Or maybe something completely unrelated to work. As with all conversations that happen every minute of every day, most of it gets lost forever in the years and the noise. But occasionally, something sticks.

Even though I’ve forgotten the reason for the meeting, this particular conversation is one of those that stuck because it turned personal when she told me something I have never forgotten.

The boiled down version was how one day I may find myself grateful for some not-so-great things that were happening. And the part that stuck the most was how I’d be grateful to people who were not exactly on that list in the moment.

I didn’t buy it then. I was simultaneously appreciative of her making the effort to dig into my life and offer her insight while being completely annoyed that she was digging into my life and offering her insight.

Something took seed though and deep, deep inside of my self-pity, I was able to put some trust in a completely out-of-reach “some day.” And now, here we are, years later and experiences smarter.

The big hurdle is the truth that we just don’t know what we don’t know. I’ve figured out two things within the past six months.

One, I have to trust the people who know more than me. (Maybe they know me better than I know myself or maybe they just know better.) And two, timing is everything.

Trust people and time. Sure, no problem.

Maybe trust is too strong a word. But I can at least listen to people. There’s a song called “First Day of My Life” with the lyric, “These things take forever, I especially am slow.”

This is me. In most cases, I’m slow to listen and slow to learn, slow to decide and slow to act.

I used to wish that wasn’t the case, but now that I’ve (slowly) learned that timing is everything, maybe it’s not a curse.

A friend sent me a snippet of something she read the other morning. “Nothing good comes easily. You have to…get over yourself, beyond your past, out from under the weight of your future.

The good stuff never comes when things are easy. It comes just when you think it never will.” That’s revised verbiage for the conversation I had all those years ago. “Just wait, one day you’ll be grateful.”

It’s nice to have people around who do know us better than we know ourselves, and manage to remind us of what we need to hear.

It’s also nice to be reminded there’s always somebody in the room who’s a little bit smarter, especially when I start to foolishly think that person is me.

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