Fixing Stupid

Boss, Misc
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Can you fix stupid? Can anyone, externally, fix stupid? Correctional facility system seems to think so. I don’t. Yesterday one of my friends offered her opinion on this topic and I felt it would be valuable to offer mine… because I often get asked what makes an ideal employee and what sort of qualities we look for.


First let me offer you my definition of stupidity:

Unwillingness or inability to learn and adapt.

Your definition may be different from that but as the university system has proven through so many MBA diplomas issued to people that wouldn’t be trusted with the fryer at McDonalds.. Just following basic directions and ability to regurgitate facts does not make you smart. It just means you can follow direction. Without someone beating you into learning, you would remain incapable of growing mentally.

In other words, you can’t fix stupid. You can inform a stupid person but when there is no willingness and no drive in them to continue improving.. all you’re really doing is creating a more dangerous idiot. Microsoft and CompTIA have a certification system and prove this fact daily by giving one moron after another the inability to understand technology and just enough skill to possess a license to kill IT & productivity.

So what’s the difference?

I hate to sound like the meme version of me but if you have to ask that question you are an idiot. If your boss sent you this blog post, s/he probably thinks you’re an idiot too.

The difference is that stupid people have a false sense of security that assures them they need no further knowledge or further ability/skill to deal with the world around them. You know “set in his ways” kind of a person. Stupid people are happy and even proud of their ignorance, they feel like they know everything they need to.

Smart people can’t stand feeling stupid and put effort towards improving and better understanding things around them. They don’t stop because they got a diploma, raise, promotion, reward – because it’s not about that. It’s about solving problems. Stupid people don’t solve problems, they wait for someone to tell them what to do.

It’s not merely a matter of initiative either, it’s a matter of passion. There is no end game at which you become “smart” (or “learned”) and that in part is what we look for when we hire people. We look for people that won’t sit there and stare at the screen waiting for something to happen, we look for people that see and understand the inefficiencies and try to do better.

But Vlad, I’m a janitor, not everyone has the authority to do stuff to improve the.. <shut up>

There is no point at which you start or stop being a problem solver. Problems are everywhere and everyone faces them: Yet a very small part of the population tinkers and changes and attempts to change things from the way they are. Road signs are out there because too many stupid people walked in front of a bus. Smart people spent a lot of time going over data for the criteria for the threat that shows the likelyhood that stupid people will kill themselves. They determine when to place signs, how to make them stand out, how to orient them. Then they send some dumbass to dig a hole, pour cement and stick a pole in it.

In my opinion, you can’t fix stupid. I’ve had a lot of stupid people work for me and all I’ve ever been able to do is make them more dangerous. I’ve also had a lot of smart people work for me – they came dangerous and through education they managed to become less lethal.

And that’s the difference.