Her blue eyes gazed evenly at Patrick, her human guardian. Patrick is trying his best to get Misty, his five-year-old lilac Siamese cat to come down from the apple tree and all he received was a blank stare. Patrick was calling her name coyly, waving her favourite cloth mouse stuffed with catnip and rattling her cat treats in a bowl. To no avail. The only response he received was the birds singing, as though mocking him. Misty just simply stared back and let out a loud meow, that seemed to say a mixture of, “What on earth are you doing?” and “You have to try harder, I am not coming down for that!”.
This continued painfully for ten minutes. Suddenly, Patrick remembered what Misty ate when she was ill a few months ago. He opened a tin of pilchard in tomato sauce and brought it to Misty. Misty looked at it, licked her lips, and started approaching him casually. Finally, she was in front of him, looked at him, and let out her classic loud contented meow, saying, “Well done! You have learnt something!” and ate her treat. Patrick smiled to himself.
In educational facilities like schools and universities, the emphasis of education seems to be to give information or even to cram information into its students. The one who can remember the most gets the highest marks and seen as ‘the brightest student who excelled’. Misty did not do anything for Patrick apart from allowing him to think and draw out the solution from himself.
In life, you are taught that to succeed, you must increase your knowledge and to learn more. So you do what you can by reading more books, pursuing more certificates or degrees, and attending courses, filling your mind with as much information as possible. After all, the one who knows the most wins, right? If you do not know as much as your counterpart, you may feel inferior and think, “Arghh! So-and-so knows more than me. She is so smart. I need to learn more and study harder!” You then start filling your brain with more information to feel knowledgeable and confident.
Education comes from the Latin word, ‘educare’, which means to ‘draw out’. You are born smart and born rich. Education is more about cultivating that richness that was your God-given right. It is about realising, acknowledging, and allowing the genius in you to come out and play. It is to recognize that you are already there, you are merely just not aware of it… yet. With greater awareness, you can make better choices leading to better results. Education should simply increase your awareness to allow your genius to be drawn out.
You could learn to be more intelligent with your information and your emotions. It is especially important because, with so much information, you need to become more intelligent. Knowledge used to be reserved for a few and not easily shared. Now, with the internet, knowledge has never been more available and abundant, however, it is wisdom that is scarce. The key to success in life is to understand that not everything is clear-cut or black and white. It is often that there is no right or wrong, only actions and consequences. It is to know that when you have to push back, you need to know how much to push. It is not simply, “Push back” or “Not push back”.
Invest more in time, effort, and energy on emotional thinking rather than rational thinking. Emotional thinking is about 24 times more powerful than rational thinking. There are many types of geniuses. Consider Intrapersonal intelligence to be the most important of all geniuses. Intrapersonal genius is your control over what you say to yourself. Think of your friends or family around you. Can you think of someone who is perfectly capable, obviously smart, and knowledgeable but not succeeding in life? He is clearly not lacking in intelligence but he is simply not able to reflect in his results. Are you like that?
What is the narration you have with yourself? Is it healthy? Do you put yourself down? Do you say things like, “Stupid me. I always do this sort of thing”, “I can’t do this. It is impossible” or “I am not like her. She is smarter than me”. How do you consider your Intrapersonal intelligence to be? Are you able to improve on it?
With utmost love and respect, I suggest three things you can do to improve your education and intelligence.
- Read more books. As mentioned, with better awareness, you make better choices leading to better results. You do not know what you do not know. Your mind needs to be stimulated. New information does this. It is not so much of what you get out of books but what books get out from within you.
- Learn from children (and animals!). Their perpetual wonder and awe they have for the world. You used to be like this. Remember those times when you felt invincible and beautiful as a child. Adults are deteriorated children. Let them remind you of your genius in you. Sometimes, you have to remember the past to shine in the future.
- Make mistakes! The more mistakes you make, the more you learn. In life, sometimes you win, sometimes you learn. Fail fast, fail often, fail BIG, and most importantly, FAIL FORWARD. There are only two mistakes in the world. The first one is not allowing yourself to make mistakes. It is impossible to live without failing at something unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not lived at all – in which case, you fail by default. The second one is not learning from your mistake. A mistake is only a mistake when you make it twice.
To learn is to grow. Learn constantly. Think of education as an inside game, not an outside game. Continue to draw out the genius, the beauty, and your eternal spirit within you. Don’t just fill your mind with information, give yourself space and allow yourself to grow from within. If you are a teacher (and we all are!), think of ways to pull out intelligence rather than push in information for your student.
Misty did nothing but stare (many cats do! They are smart), allowing Patrick to find the solution. What are you doing to learn more about yourself and teach more effectively?
‘I am still learning.’ – Michelangelo at age 87