Why Street Smarts Always Win Out Over Book Smarts When It Comes To Success

by Paul Hudson

The most valuable currency in the world is information. However, not all information holds equal value – some information is much more valuable than other information. In addition, the very same information can be more or less valuable from day to day. How can that be? Information itself, while holding some intrinsic value, increases or decreases in value depending on the situation in which you find yourself.

Some information, while useless under most circumstances, can be found to hold immense value under other conditions. Having knowledge of hunting, skinning and butchering is useless for most people – until, of course, they find themselves in a situation in which they need that knowledge in order to survive.

That’s where information holds its value – when it is necessary for survival. Since surviving is becoming less and less of an issue for people every year, the only other true use of information – arguably an even more important use – is to give people the opportunity to thrive.

Information is power – when used correctly. In life, there are two main types of information, or types of intellect if you will: There are those who have book smarts and then there are those who have street smarts. Although some would like to argue otherwise, the fact is that both of these sorts of smarts are learned.

You aren’t born with information; you collect it over the years. Whether one is more versed in street smarts or book smarts depends on the circumstances one has grown up under. While many, if not most, people hold book smarts in the highest regard, the truth is that street smarts hold immeasurable value.

In a way, while having book smarts relies on learning and holding on to facts, street smarts relies more on the practical uses of information that has already been acquired. For this reason, to be a fully rounded and powerful individual one must be well-versed in both forms of intellect.

To thrive in life, you can’t simply hold on to information. Facts themselves have little more use than the pleasure a person can derive from them directly. In order to truly use information to your advantage, you have to be capable of implementing the knowledge you hold into your life and then leveraging what you know to get what you want.

Knowledge is a weapon. In order to have power, you must either use that weapon or be privy to ways of using that information to benefit you most. This is important for all people to understand, regardless of what they do or how they live their lives. As human beings, we are always "strutting our stuff," trying to show others that they are worthy of respect and admiration.

However, there are some individuals who have no choice, but to learn how to use information as lethal weapons. There are those who live in a world that is far more cutthroat than most. Well, there are really two types of individuals who are well trained in information warfare, but I was never very much interested in the lives of politicians. The real sharks in the sea, as far as I’m concerned, are entrepreneurs.

For an entrepreneur, having book smarts is important, yet not quite as important as street smarts. Entrepreneurs must have a great understanding of the environment they are working in. They must understand their business, the country they are doing business in, their customers, the market, and whatever else might affect their business.

This sort of information is immensely valuable because it gives the entrepreneur a clear picture of what he or she has to work with. The road to attaining anything a person wants in life can be depicted with an equation – an equation with many variables. Having book smarts allows the entrepreneur a better understanding of the influential variables at play.

Without such information, the entrepreneur will fail. If you are going to work within a system, then you have to understand that system. As it stands now, each individual in the world lives and works within a functioning system.

Now, while having such book smarts benefits the entrepreneur greatly, what is even more valuable for him or her is street smarts. While book smarts arguably make us human, street smarts are what make us animals. For an animal, it’s all about surviving. It’s all about killing or being killed. Because of the comfort we find ourselves in these days, it’s easy to forget that we are little more than animals.

Because entrepreneurs purposefully put themselves into uncomfortable situations, they understand the importance of getting back in touch with the animal inside them. It’s the animal that is hungry. It’s the animal that has pride, that wants more out of life, that wants to conquer, fight and kill.

If you want more than average out of life then you need to be street smart, you need to get in touch with your animalistic side. If you want to be an entrepreneur then you have to let go of much of your human instincts and revert back to being the animal your ancestors started out as.

Being an entrepreneur – and believe me when I tell you, this is no exaggeration – you have to always be in kill mode. You have to always be looking out for yourself and your interests. You have to watch your back.

You have to have a clear understanding of your environment and your capabilities – both strengths and weaknesses. As an entrepreneur, others will try to get you. They will do their best to ruin you, to take away from you all that you have worked so hard on because they want what you have.

Entrepreneurs don’t just create; they take. The reality of the world we live in is that there are really only two types of individuals. There are the fish in the sea that try to just get by and then there are the sharks that will tear apart anything that stands in their way.

That’s the way it has always been and that’s the way that it always will be. Now let me ask you this: How useful will you find your street smarts when you have a 1,200 lb. shark closing in on your jugular? If you’re going to be swimming in deep waters, then always choose to be a shark.

Photo via American Gangster

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