Measuring Intelligence: Who’s more intelligent?

A couple of nights ago, at a milonga (an Argentine tango event), I was telling a fellow tango dancer about my marketing company, he was fond of our “storytelling” approach and responded, “wow, you’re intelligent, what did you take in school?”
I asked him why that mattered. Is formal education really the ideal way to measure intelligence? In my opinion, the more appropriate measures would be: one’s ability to adapt, discipline, and appreciation for introspection and self-improvement. These are things I was not taught in class, in business school.

I explained to him, I may know more about marketing and business strategy, but he knows more about tango and he is a much better dancer than me. He responded, “That is because I’ve been dancing tango for 12 years, while you’ve only been dancing for one year. You’ll be as good or better than me in time.”

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Isn’t that how we all grow –  through investing time in learning? School provides a structured system in knowledge intake; however, tests and projects are not a way to assess one’s full knowledge and ability. What I did get from school was: learn more discipline, immediate credibility (versus proving my knowledge via action), and a network which I may or may not have been able to build otherwise.

We can’t learn everything, so we’ll always feel unintelligent on unfamiliar topics, like when I recently asked an architect whether he got to play with LEGO at work or when I asked a violin teacher with the difference between a quarter note and half note was, but all of us are experts at something, even if that’s a video game or black teas.

Reflection question: What in your opinion, what makes someone intelligent?

Esha Abrol © October 11, 2013

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