Meditations on Intentional Intelligence

I’ve never been naturally good at anything. I became a great ballerina out of spite, because everyone was very open about the fact that I wasn’t naturally gifted. It never dawned on me that intelligence is much the same way, it’s aquired, regardless of your natural aptitude for it. In ballet, I dedicated 16 years to being a good dancer. I suspect that being a professional or even just an intelligent person is governed by the same principle.

So, I ask myself, how much time have I really invested in being intelligent? I definitely didn’t do much in high school, or even before that. So… since college? By that logic, I’m running on 8 years of effort towards being an intelligent person. How much of that 8 year span was dead time? Time where I was learning for a grade rather than understanding. Time where I was reading a book because I had to, not because I was intentionally extracting value from it. How much intentional intellectual studying can I get done in the next 8 years?

I’m turning 26 next week, so that leaves me about 55 more years of being a student of the world. 55 more years to make an impact on something. Anything.

In school we used to make plans. 1 year plan. 5 year plan. 10 year plan. At this point, I hate to even plan what I want for dinner tonight, let alone what I want for myself in a year, in five, in ten. So let’s try this. Instead of the classical performance goals, I want to set some learning goals for myself. Publicly.

In 1 year I want be able to…

  1. Hold a conversation in spanish
  2. Draw a picture with charcoal I can hang up on a wall in my house

In 5 years I want to be able to…

  1. Communicate a complex thought clearly and concisely
  2. Overcome the amygdala hijack with grace
  3. Provide someone with an opportunity they would have never had
  4. Read a book a week

In 10 years I want to be able to…

  1. Own a business
  2. Create a unique idea
  3. Captain a sailboat in the ocean
  4. Be 100% tactful in all situations - both in business and in my personal life
  5. Teach my kids that their intelligence can be achieved with grit
Written on May 18, 2018