May 14, 2011

University of Hard Knocks

I visited a retired lecturer last week and we chatted for almost half a day about everything under the sun. I enjoyed his company very much. He once taught me for a semester while I was doing a part time Marketing course. I like talking to him … a witty wise man. He is the kind of person who is not afraid to bend the rules and disrupt the norm. During the conversation he touched on something which I totally agree with and would like to share my point of views on this too. He had taught many people over the years … while he had seen many smart people but he feels that they lack the street wise aptitude. He said being smart may give you a good head start but you have to learn to be streetwise to pull you through the rough turns and corners of where you may be heading. I absolutely agree 100% with him … why? Because someone told me many years ago … a smart person will only believe half of what he hears … a streetwise person already knows which half. 

So what exactly is streetwise? I don’t know how to define it. I can just say streetwise ways are not always proper … unorthodox most of the times. In an argument, if the law is on your side, you argue the law. If the facts are on your side, you argue the facts … that is the smart way. But if both the law and the facts are not on your side, you argue LOUDLY … and I call that the streetwise way where rules don’t apply. Now, it does make you look like a rascal but sometimes that is the way you need to get things going. 

Very often people like to get things done via the proper channels. The smart thing is to ask for approval and play “by the book”… but then it often takes a lot time, involving red tapes and hassles. Did it ever cross your mind NOT to ask for approval now but to ask for forgiveness later? If you ask me, my streetwise reply will be … it is a lot easier to ask for forgiveness than to ask for approval. You may say, hey, this is not right. I didn’t say it was right … but if you are convinced, you may need some unorthodox ways to get around obstacles … “bend the rules” so to speak.

We faced all sorts of obstacles day after day … many are not easy to solve but you don’t really need to know rocket science to tackle them. When you can’t find a smart way to remove or get across an obstacle, maybe there is a streetwise way to just get around it. Hey, I am sure you heard of this “if you can’t convince them, confuse them”.
Streetwise aptitude is not something you learn from your normal educational institutions … you get it from the “University of Hard Knocks” where there are no rules, no bed of roses … you learn it by getting yourself bumped, bruised, betrayed, fooled, deceived, smacked, conned … the more you get knocked down, the faster you learn. You must go head on, face to face with the problems. I don’t know about you but I love problems or should I say I love solving problems. I was paid to solve problems (when I was working) … and I have more than enough shares of hard knocking problems to earn me a bagful of streetwise “Shiek’s Specials” which I can pull out to use every now and then … they get me through hell and back in a breeze.

I am not asking you to go against the flow every time. You don’t need to … there are times when it is easier to just get around it. You are a smart person but you will learn to be streetwise every time when you fall and pull yourself up again. Maybe you too will have your very own “streetwise specials” to pull out when the need arises.