The world is full of people who are either book smart or street smart. Book smart people are well-read and possess a wealth of knowledge. They’re experts at recalling, recognizing, and analyzing information. Characterized by their love of learning, book smart people are organized and prepared for any situation.
The street smart among us have worldly experience, which they use to make informed decisions about situations they encounter. They learn from their own mistakes and trust their judgement about people and circumstances.
Book Smart vs Street Smart
They way you learn has the biggest influence on whether you are book smart or street smart.
If you recall your time in school, you can identify book smart and street smart kids. Book smart students were disciplined and tried to follow rules. They usually made straight As. They spent most of the time in libraries reading and studying.
The street smart kids were rebellious. They prioritized interactions with others over studying and reading. Class clowns are almost always street smart.
Book Smarts Read to Learn
Book smart people learn from successes and failures of others through reading. They benefit from theories, models, and the insights of other people.
But they may lack experience since they’ve spent most of their time intellectualizing situations. Their adherence to rules narrows their vision and prevents them from innovating. When faced with sudden changes, they have trouble reacting.
Street Smarts Walk to Learn
Street smart people adapt. Excellent situational awareness allows them to understand their environment, the people in it, and how they can use these things to accomplish their goals. They think freely without being held back by rules and solve problems creatively.
But they are likely to repeat mistakes made by other people because they didn’t learn from others’ experiences. They may trust their judgement too much and fail to see other options too.
When Book Smart and Street Smart Are at the Wrong Place
If you didn’t give a book smart person guidelines or the ability to research, the person wouldn’t know what to do. When they can’t sift through information, they panic. Imagine going to a foreign country where you can’t speak the language, don’t have a cell phone, and don’t have a guide book, and you’ll know the feeling.
Street smart individuals don’t adapt in structured situations because they can’t use their knack for improvisation. Educational environments are often oppressive for street smart people. Street smarts often act out in school because they’re forced to learn in ways that don’t make use of their talents.
Book smart people are most successful when expectations are clearly-defined. Government work and school settings are good for book smart people.
Street smart people excel without rules or where they can make their own. Creative types, entrepreneurs, and working in start-ups are street smart.
When Book Smart and Street Smart Go Together
A competent person has positive qualities of book smart and street smart people. This person possesses a strong grasp of facts, information, and precedents like book smart people. He or she could learn from others’ mistakes without repeating them.
The street smart aspects of this person enable him or her to be adaptable and sensitive to the environment. They know the rules and understand when they need to be broken.
Whether you’re prone to book smart or street smart, you can work a bit to become both and achieve big.
1. Read What You Need
Reading allows you to learn from others’ mistakes and emulate their success. When you read, the mental stimulation keeps your mind sharp and makes you better at solving problems. Analyzing details from books is excellent practice for tackling problems in the real world.
Getting lost in a book helps you develop the habit of concentrating on one thing at a time. Increased focus translates into doing more work in less time. Find out more here about the Benefits of Reading: Why You Should Read Every Day.
Choosing the right books and reading with purpose allows you to maximize your time. If you aren’t sure how to kickstart reading the good ones, check out this article How to Read Books You Aren’t Interested in but Are Useful for You.
2. Put What You’ve Learned Into Action
Consuming the written word doesn’t guarantee that you’ll use what you’ve read. Make connections to what you’ve read and put it into practice right away.
The more often you make use of the information, the easier to remember it. If you don’t put what you have learned into actions, you can’t experience in your own way. Only with experience will you truly understand something and know how to react when things don’t go the same way as in the book or theories. Here’s a way to get you to learn really fast: The Only Way to Remember Everything You Have Read.
Have the Best of Both Worlds
You can be book-street smart and combine the positive aspects of both learning styles.
Instead of ruling out one school of thought, focus on learning, taking actions based upon what you learn, and accumulating experience. Get feedback so that you can revise what you’re doing and act again. Focus on improving yourself through many avenues, and you’ll achieve new levels of success.