I am not smart I am learning

‘Smart’ is the word repetitively appears in IT world, but not that often in my previous careers. If a person can program, the person must be smart. If a person knows technology, the person must be smart. If the person works for a blue-chip technology vendor, the person must be smart.


Recognising people as ‘smart’ without concrete context can grow arrogance. Arrogance hurts, not only to others and relationship, but also eventually to self.


In addition, recognition with ‘smart’ does not help encourage desired behaviours. We want to encourage behaviours that can be developed such as ‘dedication’, ‘team work’ and ‘learning’; no those are born with such as ‘good looking’ and ‘smart’.


Moreover, simply recognizing with ‘smart’ ignores the person’s effort invested in doing a good job, as if they were just naturally born to do a good job.


I also received comments like ‘smart’ and ‘clever’ many times. However, I’d prefer to be recognised by my effort invested in work and continuously learning. Comparing what I’ve achieved with the effort I invested, I don’t think I am smart at all. Therefore, I am on the journey of continuous learning to enrich my live experience in the world, to be a better person, and if possible to influence the world towards a little bit better place.


Life is too short to be little (Benjamin Disraeli)


Besides ‘I am smart’, another danger is ‘I am well experienced’. It is not rare to hear the saying that ‘I know how to do things because I have 20 years experience’. Experience is definitely an advantage; however, don’t let it grow arrogance and stop learning.


Wang Yangming, a famous philosopher in ancient China believes in the unity of knowing and acting (reference: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/wang-yangming/). I understand it as learning by acting and acting by learning, neither can be ignored.


In today’s fast-changing world, it’s not so much what you know anymore that counts, because often what you know is old. It is how fast you learn. That skill is priceless (Robert Kiyosaki)


I recently download an audible book ‘The 4 Hour Workweek’ by Tim Ferriss, which inspires me to be a more efficient learner. I summarise my thoughts and practices below with reference to Tim’s views


Ambitious Goal


Self-efficacy is one of my favorite theories in psychology – we tend to achieve what we believe. Giving yourself an ambitious goal, even if you just achieve 80%, it is still much better than achieving a comfortable goal which only brings you 50% as maximum.


In addition, many things are not as difficult as their initial look when you start doing. With 3.5 months full time study, I passed the top level Japanese proficiency test from new starter. When my husband mentioned this on a famous language forum in China, nobody even believed it. Other examples are I achieved IELTS academic four 7+ in 10 days with initial result of 6. I passed 3 CCIEs within 7 months during my full-time work.


Meaningfulness in Learning


Meaningfulness is the key in adult learning. Tim Ferriss used a Japanese Judo book to learn Japanese grammar – learning Judo is more meaningful to him than watching Japanese cartoon; while I studied Japanese with the initial purpose of playing games and watching cartoon.


I found it sometimes boring to learn technology purely for the sake of technology (obviously I am not geeky enough 🙂 ). I tried to relate technology to business use cases and my service goal of making people’s life easier (refer to my previous post ‘Configuring a router should not be more difficult than using a fridge’).


Meaningfulness adds motivation to learning and boosts the outcome.


Multi-tasking vs. Focus


It really depends on individual brain and task nature whether we adopt multi-tasking or focus on a single task.


When I try to maximise outcome in short time and the task involves complex problem solving, I focus on the single task, and use minor task different in nature as refreshment. I am improving on this, as when I am focused on work, I tend to forget my daily task of exercise.


Multi-tasking when less brain energy is required. For example, I listen to audible book and radio in foreign language while doing household chores, running and etc.


Learning Resource


There are plenty free learning resources on the Internet. Following is a few examples:




  • TuneIn: radio stations from all over the world


  • Youtube: such as search ‘positive psychology’


  • Free course with Udemy: can be searched from OZbargain


  • Practice blogging in different language like what I am doing 🙂



2 thoughts on “I am not smart I am learning

  1. really really great stuff you post here, fast learning is important
    Not only learning tech from here, but also writing ^_^
    Will share it in wechat, if don’t mind


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