This Is the Number 1 Sign of High Intelligence, According to Jeff Bezos
Jeff Bezos founded one of the most successful companies of our time and sits atop a personal fortune of some $200+ billion. I think we can all agree that by any meaningful definition the guy is pretty smart. It’s also obvious he has a talent for surrounding himself with other smart people who can help make his vision reality.
How does he find them? It’s a question he addressed when he stopped by the Basecamp offices a few years ago, the company’s founder, Jason Fried, reports on the Basecamp blog. And the answer Bezos gave was the exact opposite of what most folks would expect.
Smart people are actually wrong a lot.
Most of us, when we want to figure out if someone is smart, ask if the person is frequently right: Do they have correct knowledge about the world and their area of expertise? Do they come up with the right answers when faced with hard problems? Do their predictions turn out to be right?
But Bezos’s counterintuitive strategy isn’t just to look at how often people are right. Instead, he also looks for people who can admit they are wrong and change their opinions often.
Bezos has “observed that the smartest people are constantly revising their understanding, reconsidering a problem they thought they’d already solved. They’re open to new points of view, new information, new ideas, contradictions, and challenges to their own way of thinking,” Fried reports the Amazon boss saying.
“Consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.”
That willingness to consider new information goes hand in hand with a willingness to admit your old way of thinking was flawed. In other words, to be super smart you have to change your mind a lot. Essayist Ralph Waldo Emerson famously said, “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.” Bezos apparently agrees that consistency is overrated.
“He doesn’t think consistency of thought is a particularly positive trait,” Fried reports. “It’s perfectly healthy — encouraged, even — to have an idea tomorrow that contradicts your idea today.”