Why Do We Ignore The Smartest People We Know?

The answer to this question is simple; we feel they’re too young to know any better or too old to be relevant.

Like most of you, I’ve worked with or have known some pretty bright people. They can analyze, revise, sell, market, teach, calculate, propose, create, design, and manufacture with the best minds out there.

But they’re not as smart as a five-year old, and they don’t have near the common sense or understanding of an eighty year old.

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And yet we ignore them both. We push one age group aside because they can’t possibly teach us anything at their young age and the other aside because the general feeling is they’ve used up their usefulness to society and are now nothing more than a financial drain or burden.

How sad is that?

A five-year old’s intuition is never even considered, and yet they can tell us things about people we never see. Each day they teach us the importance of innocence, the ability to learn, explore and communicate in ways we don’t understand or pay attention to closely enough. A five-year old child lives in the moment and understands how important that moment is to the rest of his or her life.
The first post I ever wrote on this blog was about a morning I spent playing soccer with my grandson. We were leaving the field and I was walking ahead of him. I turned and asked him why he was dragging behind. He told me he enjoyed taking his time because if he saw something he liked, he wanted to be able look at it again. He said that’s why he doesn’t mind sitting in traffic; he gets to look at things a second time.

The difference between looking and seeing. 

We love our children and we do all that we can for them. We try to teach them how to behave, the difference between right and wrong, encourage them and provide for them. But do we ever really listen closely enough to learn and modify our own lives?

When I was a young teenager, I worked in the kitchen of a nursing home. One of my jobs was to bring the patients their meals. I remember how much they enjoyed that little visit. I would always speak with them when I put down their trays and after I was done I would go back and talk with some of them. Actually, it was more listening than talking. But I learned more about life in a ten minute conversation than anyone could ever teach me. Our elders have been there….and back. They have experienced life in ways we’ve yet to know. They understand and live mortality every day, in ways we only talk about as a “one day” conversation. They break down problems using a common sense approach, understanding what really matters in the time each of us have left. And yet, we think nothing of dismissing them. Our arrogance of how much we think we know is such that we can’t conceive of someone who moves or speaks slowly, knowing more than us.

How sad is that?

The smartest people I ever met are shorter than me, older than me, faster than me, slower than me, struggle with words, need help to get through the day and will spend as much time with you as you are willing to give in return.

You should really get to know them, too.  And listen closely. You might learn something you never knew.

 

27 thoughts on “Why Do We Ignore The Smartest People We Know?

  1. abyssbrain

    People are very good with stereotyping.

    “oh, he’s just a brat, how would he know that anyway?”

    “You wouldn’t understand that old timer.”

    “Women can’t do yhis and that.”

    “Scientists are very rational and cold”

    Stereotyping is a very convenient way for people to classify and “understand” others which I find very amusing and stupid at the same time. Every individual is unique so it is unfair to label them based on stereotypes

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  2. George Post author

    Thank you, Paul. I wish it wasn’t true and never had to be written but unfortunately….
    Thank you for your comment and for visiting.

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  3. A.PROMPTreply

    Love this post and it is sad how much we miss by discounting our younger and our elders. Somewhere along the line I got wise and figured out that my grandmother was a walking history book and totally loved soaking up all her stories of days gone by. That’s carried over into my life outside of the family and I’ll always choose an older person to converse with given the choice. Children, they are definitely where it’s at as far as reclaiming the magic in how you look at things…..Going between the two is a great life balance.

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    1. George Post author

      Thank you, and yes it is sad. Sometimes we get lucky, as you did, and are able to take advantage of the wealth of information that our parents or grandparents have stored inside them. Unfortunately, some never get that opportunity or realize too late what they missed. Thank you for your comment and for visiting.

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  4. uju

    Poignant words, George. We learn so much from children when we bother to pay attention to them; so small, innocent and yet wise. When Jesus spoke about being as children to make heaven, i believe he means we should connect with our abilities to trust, live freely and master forgiveness.

    Beautiful piece.

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    1. George Post author

      I agree uju. Children are God’s gift of joy and understanding. While we find ourselves blessed with the happiness they provide, there are so many things they can teach us each day, If only we would listen.

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  5. Mindy

    I think many people could learn a lesson from this! Your grandson has a great outlook on life, and I think it’s unfortunate we often move through life without appreciating what is before us. Nice post, George 🙂

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  6. fillyourownglass

    This post is spot on! Nearly everything I have learned about happiness and acceptance has come from people too young to be in school yet, and nearly everything I have learned about patience and wisdom has come from people considered to be past their prime.

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  7. tamellu

    So true… if more people truly listened to those simple yet very important truths out there, and if more peole trulythings and people for whoat and what who they really are, this would be a very different world.

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    1. George Post author

      Time is the key word here. We’re an impatient society that needs instant gratification. To appreciate our children and elders sometimes takes patience. But the return is so worth it.

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  8. mamalisa4

    Well said! ( I am applauding you) As an at home parent and spending so much time with four children I have learned so much. They really have their own way of thinking – and its better!!! They are receptive too! When they were eating their chocolate bunnies I told them to take a bite and let it melt in their mouths and really enjoy the taste. They did it – no questions. They were amazed how good it actually tasted!! Life is in the details!!

    Your experience in the nursing home reminded me of Tuesdays With Morrie by Mitch Albom Great Read!! Great post!! Thank you for sharing – i can sometimes forget and get caught up.

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    1. George Post author

      We all forget and get caught up at times, which is why what my grandson said to me made me stop and sit down where I had been walking. Children have an unfiltered view of life that is incredibly refreshing if we just pay attention. Thank you for your thoughts.

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  9. Pingback: Free- For-All Friday #5 | Edwina's Episodes

    1. George Post author

      I agree. Too often we see someone and just ignore or tune them out because of who we think they may be. Thank you for commenting and visiting.

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