How To Be Less Stupid

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I’m really
stupid. I can tell you in advance. I think at heart, if I work at
it, I can be smart. But at the moment I’m largely an idiot.
I feel I have the right knowledge but I let a lot of stuff get in
the way. You know: “stuff”. Worries, guilt, paranoia,
grudges, resentment. Like, for instance: I resent the people who
resent me. I think they resent me for no reason. So now I resent
them. What a circle-jerk!

I used to think
when I added stuff to my brain I’d get smarter. But this is
not true. For instance, if I look up when Charlemagne was born I’d
just add a fact to my head which I will forget tomorrow. This won’t
make me smarter. Subtraction, and not Addition, is what makes
the window to the brain more clear
, wipes away the smudges,
opens the drapes.

One example:
the day I lost the deal to do Tupac’s
website
, I had a chess lesson afterwards. I couldn’t play
at all. It was like I didn’t even know the rules. My instructor
said, “what’s wrong with you today?” But I was ashamed.
And angry at myself. So my intelligence went way down. Like 80%
down.

So here’s
my great list.

1) Paranoia.
I figure on the moments when you are paranoid (is
she cheating?
Is he stealing? Are they talking about me? Will
they sue me? Etc) you lose about 30-50% of your intelligence. That’s
a big chunk. For me, its because I can’t think of anything
else. I would circle her house until the lights were on and then
I’d knock on the door. Or I would go to his office and not
leave until he showed up. Paranoia will destroy you.

2) Resentment.
Someone wrote about me a year ago. I hold a grudge. He was a
friend, then wrote the worst crap about me. What a jerk. But when
I think about it, I figure I lose about 20% of my intelligence.
Particularly if the thoughts involve revenge. Then maybe 30% of
my intelligence.

3) Regret.
I’ve
written about it
a billion times. I lost a lot of money in 2000-2001.
I regret it. Or, I should say, I regretted it. I don’t anymore.
How come? Because I saw that regret was taking at least 60% of my
intelligence away. I couldn’t afford 60%. 2% I could afford.
Not 60%. I didn’t start coming up with ideas for new businesses
until the regret went away.

4) Perfectionism.
When I was running a fund I never wanted to have a down month.
I’d be afraid to talk to my investors then. One guy, who is
still a good friend (I spoke with him today even) said, “listen,
if you’re going to be a fund manager you have to be able to
talk to people when you have a down month”.

But I was ashamed.
When I lost my house, I moved 70 miles away. I didn’t want
to run into anyone. I felt shame. When I write a blog post I think
is weak, I might take it down before too many see it. I’m ashamed
of it. I want to win the Nobel Prize for blog writing. Or at least
10,000 Facebook likes. But I can’t control that. I’m imperfect.
The shame of imperfectionism takes at least 20% of my intelligence
away. Because people sense and appreciate honesty and honesty about
imperfections, believe it or not, creates enormous opportunities.
I’ve seen it happen in my own life.

5) Control.
I want to control everything around me. But sometimes things
are bad and there’s nothing you can do about it. Sometimes
you have to surrender and say, “this is bad now but good things
will happen later”. Then a great weight lights off your shoulders.

You know why
they always say “a great weight lifts off your shoulders?”
because that’s where your brain is. And your brain is heavy.
It rests on your shoulders. When stuff is weighing it down you lose
about 10-20% of your intelligence. Give up control and get smarter.
A simple example: you are late for a meeting but there’s traffic.
You can think “God damn this traffic. Why am I always in traffic?”
Or you can be thinking about something smart: like how good bacon
tastes. Can I make a better bacon? Or how would I start a helicopter
airline to take me from one side of the city to the other. These
seem like dumb thoughts. But they are much better than “God
damn this traffic!”

Read
the rest of the article

April
7, 2012

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