Don’t Be the Smartest Person in the Room!

I was so scared on my first day of work at my second ever corporate job. In fact, I think I was so scared my first entire year that I was there!

I sat in a cubicle with other cubicles around me in the center of the office, and they were actually pretty private. There were tall walls and a sliding door that closed. It had fogged glass on it, so it looked like a shower door. We actually called it “the shower door.” And so I kept that shower door closed for nearly an entire year; I was hunkered down, I didn’t want anybody to see me, and had very little interaction.  

It was because I was so scared of how crazy smart everybody was at this organization – the caliber of talent, their years of industry experience, their level of creativity, their perspective, their approach was nothing I had ever been exposed to. 

I had been an elementary school teacher for years and had one other corporate job, but it was nothing like what I had gotten myself into. But I am so grateful that that’s exactly where I ended up, because the amount of learning that happened for me over just that first year was exponential. And it was simply because I was not the smartest person in the room.  

It was almost like my skills and my learning increased purely through osmosis, by just being surrounded by these conversations and these questions every single day. And in the past that’s not necessarily how I would have approached it, I would have wanted to be somebody who could show intelligence and professionalism. But that really didn’t lend itself to me growing and really learning. And so by not being the smartest person in the room, it allows for that growth to happen at such a greater degree.  

So if you’re looking to increase your skill set and learn, don’t be the smartest person in the room! I mean, I still practice that today. I throw myself into mastermind groups or working with mentors or trainers that scare the crap out of me, because they have this level of thinking that is not anywhere where I’ve been before. I know that’s the way I am truly going to grow in an even quicker pace than if I was actually at that same level, or more.

Don’t be the smartest person in the room.

How do you feel about that? Have you been in that situation? What were the outcomes for you? Do you do something different? Comment below, I would love to hear from you.

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