In the previous post How Smart People Operate – 1 we highlighted one very important choice that smart people make when on the path of achievement and accomplishment. If you don’t want to read the entire post, it’s choice C 😉 In summary, we talked about how smart people seek mentorship and guidance.

They’re not afraid to ask for help.

Having said that, they do also possess a skill that is quite the opposite. So what’s this skill and how does it not conflict? That’s what we’ll be talking about today.

Try and remember the last time you figured something out on your own. Can you recall how excited and proud you felt?

Smart people can. They can because they learnt to figure out things on their own.


Very recently I was teaching someone how to create a website. Naturally, because she’s never done this before, whenever she got stuck at the smallest thing she’d ask for my help. After a while I decided to leave her on her own and told her to let me know when she’s really stuck. But first, I said, make sure you try to figure it out on your own.

A couple days later she was ecstatic to have built an entire website almost completely on her own. Today she told me she offered to help one of her friends build a website.

It’s easy to ask for help. And the fact that there are people always willing to help makes it very tempting to just ask! After all why struggle if you could get something done in 5 minutes if someone shows you how. Or better yet, does it for you. Well… there are a few reasons why:

  • The joy of figuring out something on your own creates a great sense of achievement. It’s something that you will not feel when you’ve been hand held every step of the way. Or when someone does it for you.
  • When you learn something on your own, the learning sticks for much longer. Next time you want to do it and no one is around to show you how, it’s not going to be a problem because you’ll know how to do it yourself.
  • You’ll learn more about the process of “figuring things out on your own”. This builds up your confidence in yourself. Because now you know you can rely on yourself.
  • You’ll have the confidence to teach it to others. And the more you teach, the more you learn.
  • You’ll exercise the problem solving part of your brain. And you’ll get into the habit of enjoying problem solving instead of seeing each problem as hurdle that will bring you down.

Can you think of more reasons? Share them in the comment box below…

Now unfortunately some people will take this to the extreme as with the previous post. You’ll either have them asking for help all the time, because they read about how important mentorship is. Or they’ll try to figure out things on their own all the time because they read about the merits of this.

As with everything else, neither should be taken to the extreme. If you’re trying to figure something out on your own through trial and error or research, ask yourself a couple questions first:

  1. Is this going to cost me a lot of time and money?
  2. If this going to cost someone else a lot of time and money?

Only when the answer is NO to both questions, go ahead with your trial and error and/or research. Otherwise, it’s time to seek mentorship or guidance and save yourself and others a whole lot of effort, time and money.

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