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Feb 07

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The miracle of not being the smartest person in the room

I grew up in a home where being smart was prized above almost everything.  With a father who was a writer and a mother who was an editor, it was a given that I would learn how to write well.  I learned math from cribbage and spelling from Scrabble.  By the time I was six or seven, I was playing both cribbage and Scrabble regularly with the adults in my world – and they weren’t dumbing down their games to play with me.  It was simply assumed that I would be a good student – and the one time that I brought home a B+ during junior high school, there was hell to pay from my father.

Suffice it to say, I expected myself to be smart.  If possible, I wanted to be the smartest person in the room.  It was a protection mechanism.  If I were smart enough I could act perfectly, and if I acted perfectly my father wouldn’t get mad at me.  It was a warped childhood belief that I carried into adulthood with me.  But the behavior that seemed to protect me as a child isn’t working so well in adulthood.

Today I was working at the newspaper.  I ended up in a strategy session with a couple of the editors about the upcoming Town Meeting season – what information to collect, how to collate it, and how to present it to the readers.

A few years ago, I spent some time working in a town office, so I’m familiar with some of the lingo they were using…but the truth is that, for the most part, I didn’t know what they were talking about.  I was aware that my brain was trying to formulate something to say that would prove to them how smart I am.  I wanted to use the lingo in a way that showed them that I knew exactly what they were talking about…even though I didn’t.  But letting my brain go to town trying to prove how smart I am meant that I wasn’t being present for their conversation and was actually missing some important information – things that would actually be useful for me to know!  And, truth be told, when I give in to that desire to sound smart, I often end up saying something that I later regret.

Today I surrendered to the peace of knowing that I wasn’t the smartest person in the room.  And I didn’t need to be.  And no one thought less of me.  It was okay that I was simply there to do my job, rather than trying to figure out how to do theirs.  Perhaps that’s the distinction between being smart and being intelligent.

About the author

Leah Carey

Leah Carey is the Chief Miracle Officer of The Miracle Journal, where she writes about the large and small miracles that happen in her life every day. She is a life coach, speaker, journalist, freelance writer, and lover of life. In all of those pursuits, she works with people to identify what’s already right in your life so you can build an even more joyful and fulfilling daily experience from that foundation. You can find her on Facebook, , Twitter, and YouTube.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.themiraclejournal.com/2011/02/07/the-miracle-of-not-being-the-smartest-person-in-the-room/