The adage goes that if you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room. Yet it may not be intelligence but their unpredictability that sparks interesting conversations and relationships.
Picture: Eddy Van 3000/Flickr
These surprises should extend the mind rather than close a gap in intelligence. Author Venkatesh Rao wrote on his blog:
My alternative to the heuristic, which many of you have heard in off-blog conversations, is that I am only interested in people as long as they are unpredictable to me. If I can predict what you'll do or say, I'll lose interest in you rapidly...
Huh?! rather than aha! or ooh!
So smarter isn't the word here (even though there's one definition of smart that's close to "unpredictable"). Neither is different. I can often predict the behaviour of smarter and/or different people of both unconventional and conventional types. The trick is to surround yourself with people who are free in ways you're not. In other words, don't surround yourself with smarter people. Surround yourself with differently free people.
We're not suggesting that you shouldn't be friends with smarter people. But besides that, try surrounding yourself with people who are free in different ways than you are. Rao writes about two different types of freedom:
- Freedom to win (constantly focused on improving your position, capabilities and odds of winning)
- Freedom to keep playing (building up capacity to keep playing, suffers no anxiety due to dissonance between expectations and reality)
You may grow more creative as you expose yourself to these different types of people and different ways of thinking. After all, creativity is about connecting ideas.
Don't Surround Yourself With Smarter People [ribbonfarm]