7 Ways Being Street Smart Is Different from Being Book SmartBook smart is a person who is generally intelligent, well educated and do well academically. However, the underlying idea is that the person deals with situations (especially bad or difficult situations) from an intellectual direction, using or basing decisions on facts, knowledge or insights gained chiefly from books or structured experiences (e.g. studying).
In contrast street smart, is a person who have common sense, knowing the ways of the world -- how things are done or doable in real life. The underlying idea is such a person deals with matters at hand from a more practical direction with more pragmatic considerations. In short, intelligence not from books but from real life and personal experience.
There is no doubt in my mind street smarts kicks book smarts ass. To be street smart means you have situational awareness. You can assess the environment you are in, who is in it, and what the available angles are. Being on the street, or in the trenches, or whatever low to the ground metaphor you prefer, requires you learn to trust your own judgment about people and what matters. This skill, regardless of where you develop it, is of great value everywhere in life regardless of how far from the streets you are.
Most important perhaps, being street smart comes from experience. It means you’ve learned how to take what has happened to you, good or bad, think about it, and learn to improve from it. The prime distinction between street smarts and book smarts is who is at the center of the knowledge. On the street, it’s you. In a book it’s you trying to absorb someone else's take on the world, and however amazing the writer is, you are at best one degree removed from the actual experience. Street smarts means you’ve put yourself at risk and survived. Or thrived. Or have scars. You’ve been tested and have a bank of courage to depend on when you are tested again. Being street smart can lead to book smarts as the street smart sense what works and what doesn’t, and adapt accordingly.
Book smarts, as I’ve framed it, means someone who is good at following the rules. These are people who get straight A’s, sit in the front, and perhaps enjoy crossword puzzles. They like things that have singular right answers. They like to believe the volume, and precision, of their knowledge can somehow compensate for their lack of experience applying it in the real world. Thinking about things has value, but imagining how you will handle a tough situation is a world away from actually being in one (As Tyler Durden says in Fight Club – “How much can you know about yourself if you’ve never been in a fight?”).
Like the stereotypical ROTC idiot in war movies (e.g. The Thin Red Line, Aliens 2) who outranks the much more competent and experienced, but less well pedigreed sergeant, the book smart confuse pretense with reality, and only learn of the difference when it is too late. Or worse, even after the fact, they insist on seeking out more books and degrees rather than recognizing they are trying to improve the wrong skills: they are half blind by their own choice since they insist on looking at the world with only one eye.
I say all this as someone who has a deep love for books, and who has some degree of what might be called book smarts. But it’s that knowledge, used in service of street smarts, that best explains whatever I’ve achieved in life.
For you to be get rich and stay rich you need to be street smart you need to know how to assess your environment, judge people and situations.
I will give two examples here.
The first one assumes there is a black out in a particular community may be transformer got spoilt for weeks and the community only relies on borehole as the only source of water to a street smart person is an opportunity to rent or buy a big generator to sell water to the people, he can easily assess his environment but a book man will question the Electricity Distribution Company with big grammars.
The second scenario Bola and Chidi arrived the city of Abuja nine years ago, Bola got a job she was paid N200, 000.00 monthly with an official house and car while Chidi got a job for N11,500.00 where he could gain experience to start his own.
Bola was a first class graduate from one of the prestigious university in the country she was Chidi’s classmates she taught her mates tutorials while in school whereas Chidi graduated with a second class lower.
As I am writing to you Chidi has a logistics outfit that employs more than 100 staff, owns a big mansion in Abuja town, rides a 2018 range rover super charge car worth N45 million and flies first class in and out of the country.
A visit to Chidi’s office recently Bola confessed to Chidi that indeed those who are street smart knows the way, they have the duo, they play the piper and dictate the tune.
Bola still struggles with her finances all in the name of job security while Chidi enjoys financial freedom.
For you to be rich and stay rich you need to be street smart.