Optionality

If you are making a tough decision, one way to know that you are making the correct decision is if your options increase.

For example if you are wondering whether you should go to University or not, it is probably worth considering whether you will have more options at the end of your course, or if your options will be limited due to being saddled down by student debt.

I think that having more options is always better than having no options or a limited set of options.

But if this is the case then it’s surprising that the smarter someone is, the less options that person seems to have. If you are smart then there are generally only a few acceptable degrees to do or universities to go to; Either you do medicine, law, engineering or go to Oxford or Cambridge.

This means that people who do well from an early age have their destiny pre-determined. So, counterintuitively smart people have fewer options to do interesting things than people who are less smart.

It is more acceptable for less smart people to do all sorts of different things and no one would bat an eyelid.

This is not only a bad thing for smart people, but it’s also bad for society.

If all the smart people go and do the same things, read the same books and all go to the same places to study, then it’s likely that not only will these people not reach their full potential, but that society will miss out on extra brain cells to innovate, to create new technologies and push the boundaries in all sorts of different fields.

This stifles fields which smart people don’t go in to and it stifles the fields they are already in.

In medicine for example because everyone is so smart, better ways of doing things rarely get adopted. Because everyone is so smart, then surely if there is a better way of doing something then we’d all be doing it.

The result? A very slow-moving industry, filled with good intentioned people, working in dumber and dumber ways.

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