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Surround Yourself With Street-Smarts

Updated: Jun 16, 2021

My first instinct when COVID-19 hit was to seek counsel from the smartest people I know. So, that's what I did. These people I consider to be not only successful, but extremely street-smart.

All self made, self driven, family oriented and strong role models in their own ways.

What exactly does it mean to be street-smart?


  1. The experience and knowledge necessary to deal with the potential difficulties or dangers of life in an urban environment.

What the recent corona experience has acutely emphasised for me is just how important it is to be surrounded with street-smart people. To be able to seek unbiased input or guidance from confidants who are battle hardened and have relied on strong instincts to survive and thrive is invaluable. Especially to gain clarity and see things from a different perspective.

To a letter every single street-smart mentor I consulted with offered predictions that have materialised during the pandemic. From the health risks (in Australia) being minimal in comparison to the dangers of closing down our economy. To the current state of affairs in the US boiling as race riots blaze on top of the inferno fuelled by the economic shut down.

What was also predicted was COVID-19 deaths in Australia would pale in comparison to suicide, domestic violence and mental illness related deaths as a result of unemployment, stress and financial hardship. A recent report from the Australian Medical Association suggests there will be an estimated 1500 additional suicides, I dare say that number is grossly underestimated. This number does not include domestic violence.

What's the lesson?

In Australia we should have listened to more street-smart advisors. Instead we relied too heavily on so named health experts and politicians. Where are the street-smarts?

The experience and knowledge necessary to deal with the potential difficulties or dangers of life in an urban environment.

Many people listen and taken advice from questionable sources. I was recently told by a street-smart mentor, if you are shaping your world view from the likes of Facebook and the 6 O'clock news you're in real trouble. Stating the obvious yes, but in a broader sense who are we being guided by and listening to in life and in business?

The first step we must all take is to take responsibility for our own knowledge and invest time in self education. We can of course glean information from a full spectrum of resources today, however always question the source. Moreover, make the effort to surround yourself with smarter and street-smart people who can open your mind and challenge you in the right ways where needed.What interesting about all my street-smart mentors is they are ferocious learners, readers and self educators, always looking for an edge and an opportunity to grow and sharpen their sword. Each of them also has their own inner circle of street-smart mentors.

Having the courage to dig deeper and challenge things when your instincts are activated is not rebellions — it's smart. Being willing to admit when you don't have all the answers and then call on smarter people for guidance is not weakness — it is strength.

I often get asked, "How do I find a good mentor?''

Chances are these people are already around you. You can find them at work and through family, friends or via connections. A request to bend their ear and ask for advice will rarely be meet with disapproval. We can all of course learn from people online, at events or read a book. But the simplest way to find a mentor is to identify someone in your circle of influence that you know and respect and simply ask them questions. That's were it starts.

Whatever you do in life, surround yourself with smart people who'll argue with you. John Wooden


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