Five Tips for Smart Adults

Source: Pixabay, CC0 Public Domain

I’ve previously written articles on this topic, for example, Tips for Smart People in a Not-So-Smart World  and Time Management And Procrastination Tips for Smart People.

Here are five other ideas.


Vet jobs carefully. Many people take jobs that end up being not as good as they had hoped. Vetting the job carefully before accepting it can be helpful. Bright people are particularly capable of doing that: Ask smart questions during the interview, e.g., “How would you describe the culture here?” or “How would you describe yourself as a boss?” and check out the interviewers’ reactions.

After being offered the job, if feasible, ask to come in to your prospective workplace to discuss terms. There, check out the vibe and hang out in the break room. Ask a question or two such as, “I was just offered a job here. What should I know about working here that might not appear in the employee handbook?” You may not get full disclosure but can often learn a lot just from the respondent’s tone of voice. An enthusiastic “It’s good!” is very different from “It’s good” in a monotone.

Gifted adults can afford dilettantism. Most people who dabble have fun but become jacks of a few trades, master of none, and thus are unlikely to be well employable. Many smart people can do quick deep dives and acquire significant accomplishment in multiple areas.


Trust yourself more than experts. You have situational knowledge that no general expert can provide. That can be true even when seeing an MD—You know what your body is experiencing and you may not have the guts to disclose all. So smart people are often wise to take expert advice as advisory, not as an order to be followed unquestioningly.

Titrate. Consciously decide how much of your intellectual ability to use in a given interaction. Usually, the goal is to match or be just slightly above the other person’s. Even when asked for advice, you’ll like engender greater support by titrating your response to be close in intellectual rigor as to the person you’re advising. For example, when talking with a child, your explanations should be just a bit more sophisticated than how s/he’d explain something.

The Summit. When my marriage hit a rough patch, we did this exercise. Independently, we wrote what we like and want to improve about our own behavior regarding career, money, our relationship, and parenting. We then compared what we wrote and agreed on one thing in each area that each of us wanted to work on. We then agreed to meet weekly over dinner to self-appraise. We found it helpful.


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