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10 Things Smart People Don’t Do

10 Things Smart People Don’t Do

What do you think of when you hear that someone is “smart?” You probably conjure up an image of an intelligent person. But being “smart” is so much more than being able to answer trivia questions and scoring highly on tests. Smart people are also compassionate, imaginative, humble, and appreciative. They view themselves as a small piece of a vast world, and they know that they have the ability to do great things.

And smart people definitely do not do these 10 things.

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They don’t let past stumbles dictate their present state.

Smart people know that failure is an essential part of growth. Too many people allow past events to stop them from achieving greatness, but not smart people. They put the past behind them, because they know what’s done is done. They look at stumbles as opportunities to grow and get better.

They don’t focus on the negative.

Smart people know that they are in control of their thoughts. And they choose to focus those thoughts on the positive. Smart people believe wholeheartedly that what the mind can conceive, it can also achieve. They know that life becomes easier and more enjoyable when they harness their ability to dream, wonder, create, build, transform, and love.

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They don’t run from their problems.

We all have problems (even Jay-Z has 99 of them). Whether it’s our jobs, money, family, health, etc., smart people face these problems head-on. They search for creative solutions to their issues. And when smart people stumble, they get up and keep right on walking. They have the courage to face their fears, and treat every problem as an opportunity to improve.

They don’t worry about what other people think about them.

Smart people don’t let the negative opinions of others deter them from living a life filled with happiness and purpose. The world has no shortage of doubters, haters, and cynics. But smart people brush the naysayers aside. They surround themselves with other smart people who share their values and passions.

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They don’t waste time.

Author Doug Larsen had this to say about time: “For disappearing acts, it’s hard to beat what happens to the eight hours supposedly left after eight of sleep and eight of work.” Smart people make the most of their time. They form productive habits that allow them to work smarter, not harder. They don’t waste their time on meaningless tasks. And they also recognize the need to balance purposeful work with mental decompression.

They don’t expect instant gratification.

Smart people understand that good things come to those who wait. We live in a society of instant gratification. In other words, we expect everything to happen quickly and easily. Most people aren’t willing to bust their tail and put in some good old fashioned hard work. Smart people, on the other hand, don’t forget that there is something greater than getting things handed to them on a silver platter—the satisfaction that comes from the every day journey of working toward something they care about.

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They don’t focus on things that are out of their control.

We encounter things on a daily basis that we can’t control. Traffic, rude people, bad breaks, and dismay. But smart people take these things in stride. They focus on what they can control, which is how they respond to unfortunate circumstances. They know that calmness of mind is one of the beautiful jewels of wisdom, and they make the most of that gift.

They don’t spend time with people who bring them down.

Smart people surround themselves with other smart people. They make time for family, friends, and acquaintances who share their values and appreciation for life. But they also recognize that they need to limit the time they spend with negative people. So they choose to spend most of their time with positive, intelligent, uplifting people.

They don’t display arrogance.

You’ll never hear a smart person tell you they’re smart. That’s because smart people are also humble. They take pride in their humility. They don’t boast about themselves and their accolades.

They don’t go a day without giving thanks.

This is perhaps the most important thing you can do if you want to be “smart.” Smart people know that the world doesn’t revolve around them. They believe in the power of the greater good and know that a simple selfless act as small as a smile to a random stranger may just change someone’s life‒and their own.

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The Productivity Paradox: What Is It And How Can We Move Beyond It?

The Productivity Paradox: What Is It And How Can We Move Beyond It?

It’s a depressing adage we’ve all heard time and time again: An increase in technology does not necessarily translate to an increase in productivity.

Put another way by Robert Solow, a Nobel laureate in economics,

“You can see the computer age everywhere but in the productivity statistics.”

In other words, just because our computers are getting faster, that doesn’t mean that that we will have an equivalent leap in productivity. In fact, the opposite may be true!

New York Times writer Matt Richel wrote in an article for the paper back in 2008 that stated, “Statistical and anecdotal evidence mounts that the same technology tools that have led to improvements in productivity can be counterproductive if overused.”

There’s a strange paradox when it comes to productivity. Rather than an exponential curve, our productivity will eventually reach a plateau, even with advances in technology.

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So what does that mean for our personal levels of productivity? And what does this mean for our economy as a whole? Here’s what you should know about the productivity paradox, its causes, and what possible solutions we may have to combat it.

What is the productivity paradox?

There is a discrepancy between the investment in IT growth and the national level of productivity and productive output. The term “productivity paradox” became popularized after being used in the title of a 1993 paper by MIT’s Erik Brynjolfsson, a Professor of Management at the MIT Sloan School of Management, and the Director of the MIT Center for Digital Business.

In his paper, Brynjolfsson argued that while there doesn’t seem to be a direct, measurable correlation between improvements in IT and improvements in output, this might be more of a reflection on how productive output is measured and tracked.[1]

He wrote in his conclusion:

“Intangibles such as better responsiveness to customers and increased coordination with suppliers do not always increase the amount or even intrinsic quality of output, but they do help make sure it arrives at the right time, at the right place, with the right attributes for each customer.

Just as managers look beyond “productivity” for some of the benefits of IT, so must researchers be prepared to look beyond conventional productivity measurement techniques.”

How do we measure productivity anyway?

And this brings up a good point. How exactly is productivity measured?

In the case of the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, productivity gain is measured as the percentage change in gross domestic product per hour of labor.

But other publications such as US Today, argue that this is not the best way to track productivity, and instead use something called Total Factor Productivity (TFP). According to US Today, TFP “examines revenue per employee after subtracting productivity improvements that result from increases in capital assets, under the assumption that an investment in modern plants, equipment and technology automatically improves productivity.”[2]

In other words, this method weighs productivity changes by how much improvement there is since the last time productivity stats were gathered.

But if we can’t even agree on the best way to track productivity, then how can we know for certain if we’ve entered the productivity paradox?

Possible causes of the productivity paradox

Brynjolfsson argued that there are four probable causes for the paradox:

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  • Mis-measurement – The gains are real but our current measures miss them.
  • Redistribution – There are private gains, but they come at the expense of other firms and individuals, leaving little net gain.
  • Time lags – The gains take a long time to show up.
  • Mismanagement – There are no gains because of the unusual difficulties in managing IT or information itself.

There seems to be some evidence to support the mis-measurement theory as shown above. Another promising candidate is the time lag, which is supported by the work of Paul David, an economist at Oxford University.

According to an article in The Economist, his research has shown that productivity growth did not accelerate until 40 years after the introduction of electric power in the early 1880s.[3] This was partly because it took until 1920 for at least half of American industrial machinery to be powered by electricity.”

Therefore, he argues, we won’t see major leaps in productivity until both the US and major global powers have all reached at least a 50% penetration rate for computer use. The US only hit that mark a decade ago, and many other countries are far behind that level of growth.

The paradox and the recession

The productivity paradox has another effect on the recession economy. According to Neil Irwin,[4]

“Sky-high productivity has meant that business output has barely declined, making it less necessary to hire back laid-off workers…businesses are producing only 3 percent fewer goods and services than they were at the end of 2007, yet Americans are working nearly 10 percent fewer hours because of a mix of layoffs and cutbacks in the workweek.”

This means that more and more companies are trying to do less with more, and that means squeezing two or three people’s worth of work from a single employee in some cases.

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According to Irwin, “workers, frightened for their job security, squeezed more productivity out of every hour [in 2010].”

Looking forward

A recent article on Slate puts it all into perspective with one succinct observation:

“Perhaps the Internet is just not as revolutionary as we think it is. Sure, people might derive endless pleasure from it—its tendency to improve people’s quality of life is undeniable. And sure, it might have revolutionized how we find, buy, and sell goods and services. But that still does not necessarily mean it is as transformative of an economy as, say, railroads were.”

Still, Brynjolfsson argues that mismeasurement of productivity can really skew the results of people studying the paradox, perhaps more than any other factor.

“Because you and I stopped buying CDs, the music industry has shrunk, according to revenues and GDP. But we’re not listening to less music. There’s more music consumed than before.

On paper, the way GDP is calculated, the music industry is disappearing, but in reality it’s not disappearing. It is disappearing in revenue. It is not disappearing in terms of what you should care about, which is music.”

Perhaps the paradox isn’t a death sentence for our productivity after all. Only time (and perhaps improved measuring techniques) will tell.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

Reference

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