Isn’t it strange how smart people tend to do dumb things? I guess it’s one of those paradoxes of life when a computer genius locks himself out of his house, or a science whiz can’t remember where she left the pencil she used two minutes before.

It’s almost as if geniuses are using so much of their brain power on creativity and high-consciousness that they neglect the more primitive, but still necessary brain functions.

Social Skills

Furthermore, isn’t it strange how smart people don’t seem to have a clue when it comes to social skills? This premise has been etched into our cultural consciousness by a sharp divide between the “nerds” and the “cool kids.”

Traditional geniuses are like fish out of water when it comes to climbing the social hierarchy. Have you ever heard the statistic that most CEOs are “C” students? My life experience has shown this to be true. All the smart people seem to be placed in highly specialized jobs, working for a much less intelligent leader at the top.

What’s up With That?

Are smart people so deficient in social and primitive cognitive functions that average people pass them by; or are social skills and practicality a type of intelligence all their own?

The Lockout King

I learned the difference between traditional and practical intelligence early on. Even though I was top of my class in high school, I always did the stupidest things!

For starters, I locked my keys in my car about twice a week. My mom was so trained to bail me out of that mess that she kept a spare set of keys on her. No matter how many times it happened, I couldn’t seem to figure out how to remember.

It wasn’t until I was halfway through college that I developed a system: keys in my left pocket, phone in my right, wallet in my my back pocket. Every time I left any location, I patted my pockets to be sure everything was in it’s place.

Now, why couldn’t I have figured that out in high school? I guess I was too smart for primitive systems.

Master of Common Sense

Deryck, my best friend since I was 5, has always been the master of common sense (one of my great deficiencies). When I was a kid, I never fully appreciated the value of his skill; but looking back, he kept me from forgetting where I put my head.

Deryck and I would get into arguments because I thought I was too smart for common sense. I always had a “better” way of doing something and had little use for proven systems.

He would push me to just go talk to the girl, and I’d come up with some elaborate way to show her a sign without actually having to go through the discomfort of doing it the old-fashioned way.

In actuality, we made a great team. If I hadn’t grown up with him, I may not have developed even the sliver of common sense that I have now!

Many Types of Intelligence

Right around the last time I ever locked my keys in the car, I finally realized that there was more than one type of intelligence. Being “book smart” was only one kind, and to focus solely on it would be to neglect the other “muscles” in my brain.

Other brain muscles include common sense, mechanical ability, athleticism, verbal ability, musical ability, and social skills (just to name a few.) I made the mistake of thinking that my type of intelligence was the only kind!

This realization gave me a greater respect for everyone else around me. If you look closely, everyone has some sort of developed intelligence, even if the rest of society doesn’t realize it. Unfortunately, many people who aren’t “book smart” don’t think of themselves of intelligent and sort of give up.

I also realized that I was going to have to work on some of my deficiencies if I was going to be a more rounded individual. I spent a lot of time reading about and putting into practice my social and “common sense” muscles.

Why Do Smart People Do Dumb Things?

Smart people can get too focused on a single type of intelligence and neglect the rest. It’s easy to think you’ve got it made when your teachers, parents, and everyone around you is calling you “smart.”

Unfortunately, even though there are many types of intelligence, society has chosen the type it considers “smart.” People with other types are left thinking that they aren’t smart, and people who are considered “smart” are left thinking that they know it all.

When smart people neglect their social or common-sense muscles, it’s usually an issue with “being in the moment.” Creative or highly-cerebral people tend to feel very comfortable in their own heads and tend to stay there. They are always working on solving a problem or creating something beautiful, and sometimes neglect to take a look at what’s around them.

It can be quite a shift for a thinker to step outside his head for a few moments; but like a physical muscle, the brain muscle required to “be in the moment” can be exercised and strengthened.


We’ll probably always have a duality between “book smart” and “street smart.” Each group needs the other.

Genius Types recognize a duality when they see it, and don’t get stuck on one side or the other.