“My mother always said I must be tolerant of ignorance but understanding of illiteracy.”
-Maya Angelou

What does being smart entail? Getting good grades in college? Being able to smell a scam from a thousand feet away? Many have always preached education over everything else. But then, the likes of Thomas Edison, Bill Gates and Albert Einstein all dropped out of school at one point and ended up having pretty distinguished lives and careers.

Simultaneously, distinguished doctors and lawyers simply cannot progress in their respective careers without years of formal education. Some would argue that as much as we needed the genius of Einstein, medical and legal resources are far more of an immediate necessity than other forms of technology.

After all, if you’re arrested and need legal representation, you can’t afford to wait till the next technological invention is ready to bail you out. Similarly, if you’re having a heart attack, every fleeting second chips away at your life till you get the proper care.

So which is more important in life overall? Being book smart or street smart?

I think it’s safe to conclude that we need a healthy balance of both. A formal education is needed to gain an informative introduction in any field even if at some point you drop out for one reason or another.

For all his intelligence, Edison still had to learn to read and write before making any discovery, as did Gates and Einstein. Be it for scientific equations or for making profits in business, you need the basic skills of mathematics.

By the same token, you never get a feel for any field until you actually experience the worst it has to offer. You could pay utmost attention to your driving instructor when getting your license and imbibe every law possible and still get injured by a drunk driver.

Patients, clients and/or customers don’t pick their problems from textbooks. They just happen. The best doctors or lawyers in the world have failed when in many cases. That certainly doesn’t equate to their education being nullified. It just equates to a lack of experience in those specific cases.

We need a little bit of everything to move forward in life. It’s important not to judge someone by every single factor in their life but more by the sum total of their existence. Maybe they didn’t go to Harvard or Yale but still achieved much more than the most people can. Maybe they were never counted among the richest people of the world but still left us with something that will be looked upon as discovery of the century.

You need some sort of formal education, especially in the earlier years of your life. You also need life experience outside of what is said in textbooks, especially as time moves on.

How big of a role did formal education play in your life’s most successful endeavors? How much of that success do you attribute to being street savvy? Was one of those elements more dominant than the other? Why or why not? Share your thoughts and experiences by commenting below on our secure servers.

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Shirley Satterfield (@shirleymandelsatterfield)
10 months ago

I thinks sometimes book smart needs to marry into street smart. That’s what I did and I do believe that no one can defeat the Satterfield book smart/street smart team!

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