Open your heart and spirit to change (too)

The problem we face isn't a lack of wisdom, but inability to deal with being a fool


At a telecoms conference once another attendee said I had earned the right to appear arrogant, since I had a high level of mastery of my subject. Conscious competence is a thing, and lets you see the unconscious incompetence of others. That said, when we are clever without being humble, we can become easy prey for those who flatter our ego and appeal to our intellectual hubris. Having been conned a few times in life (at a recoverable cost) has been a blessing: it taught me I am a beginner at street smarts, and not to let my book smarts make me overconfident. Greed, naivety, carelessness, innocence, and conceit can cause me to make mistakes when faced with a crook.

Dragging idiots down the mental equivalent of a dark alley and beating them up comes easily to me as an intellectual thug. It is just not particularly enjoyable or even kind. For years I exercised my gift to organise information, but did so without paying much attention to anything beyond the capability of my mind. Even if I could out-think other people, I was largely ineffective in the world, because I failed to take into account the heart and spirit. “I have cogitated harder about this problem than you, and seem to be smarter than you are, clever as you may be” turned out not to be endearing pitch for my own perspective.

As part of healing my own wounds I am letting go of the need to dominate others intellectually. If they want to access my gift of clarity, then I am happy to assist. But I don’t need to force it upon anyone any longer. The ethos I was implicitly taught in school and university of being right at all costs, and winning in all circumstances, isn’t helpful. Indeed, I see that very same attitude being the undoing of many who I previous saw as mentors and looked up to. The process of opening the heart and spirit to change is not an easy one if you over-identify with the mind. Yet it is a necessary one if we are to reconcile ourselves with reality and righteousness.

Future of Communications is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.

Doing photo art has helped me to reconnect mind, heart, and spirit.