How to reach the ultimate level of intelligence?

“In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice, there is.”

–Yogi Berra

What are you knowledgeable about?

Where is your best work experience?

Why are you the experts in your field?

I can see it clearly. I have all the steps in theory. I will start over again. I applied. I failed. I ask myself whether or not that is the appropriate approach.

I look around. I am the only candidate for the role. I have been preparing for so long. Unfortunately, I am still not fit for the position.

Is it because of my blackness? Is it because of my dark humor? Is it because of a smiling face? Maybe it is all of those reasons at the same time.

I say to myself: I cannot live in this uncertain situation. I have to go along with their model. I need to smooth out my personality. Maybe I need to be French, for real, inside out. Anyway, this time again, I am not the preferred candidate.

That is the uncertainty of my difference. Maybe I need to learn their patience. Perhaps I am not dancing to their rhythm. Maybe they have not seen me bleed for the moment. Well, I did not get the manager role. I go back to being the executioner. I can feel the excruciating pain of not being at the level required.

I have never led a team. I am a leader in theory. I have not been given the opportunity. There is always a “good” reason for me not to get the leading role in a competitive landscape. Maybe the reasons above are the stories I tell myself to be able to swallow the pill and get back in line. My time has not come yet.

There is some truth in the feedback I receive. I don’t know their reasons. I will never know them. It is my time to look back and self-assess my sphere of control at the edge of my influence area.

We feel like we deserve to be the chosen ones. The universe begs to differ. Maybe we have walked baby steps and think we are ready to run. Yet we are crawling.

There are three steps to reaching the ultimate level of intelligence:

  1. Knowledge,
  2. Experience,
  3. Practice.

We are often just at the first level and feel like we deserve the third level. Maybe even though I know how to lead in theory, I am missing the two other steps to be worthy of a leading role.

Yet I ask myself how I will be able to reach the next level if I cannot go through the gatekeepers’ eyes.

1. KNOWLEDGE — When we go to school, when we read books, when we attend conferences, when we devour Wikipedia articles, we are just gathering knowledge.

Knowledge is essential because it is the foundation upon which we can build the rest of our intelligence. Yet it is often overrated.

Knowledge is seeing the stars in the sky and knowing what they are. It does not mean that we fully comprehend what the universe is.

Often we go to prestigious schools, and we get a diploma. Then we go into professional life, using that piece of paper as a free pass and an entitlement for more than the rest of our peers.

All that piece of paper represents is our ability to accumulate knowledge at best. At worst, it is just an artifact we got because of our parents’ wealth, connections, or our environment.

Yes, knowledge is critical, yet it is not sufficient to be able to change our world.

2. EXPERIENCE — Experiencing is applying what we have learned. Experiencing is testing our knowledge against the reality of life. We know everything in theory. In practice, we know nothing.

Experience is seeing the stars and then building a spaceship to explore one of them. Going to the moon was the first time we tested our knowledge of the laws of physics and made a machine to reach our closest star, the Moon.

Experience is the star that lets our actual knowledge go through the reality of life. Experience is our knowledge shattered by the reality of life, where the rules that apply are different from those in our heads. Experience is the clay of our knowledge, the essence of it, what remains when the dust of theory has settled.

Experience is the wall on which rests the ladder of knowledge as we climb up our way through life.

3. PRACTICE — Practice is experimenting blended with consistency. We all can have unique experiences in life. That does not make us experts in the field in question. We often see successful people as those who have just experimented once and succeeded. The reality is that their success is the tip of the iceberg. Their repetitive failures and ability to learn from them and move forward are the hidden parts of the iceberg of any successful person.

Just because we got to the moon once does not make us intergalactic beings. We need to practice more jumps from one star to another in the universe to call ourselves actual Sliders.

Practice is walking on that uncharted patch so many times that it becomes the way for other people to follow. Practice is when our experiences become second nature to our beings. Practice is the cement blending knowledge and experience together.

Practice is the stairway to the ultimate level of intelligence: a high level of intuition.

I know how to lead in theory. I have not led so many people in my current company. At least I am not leading people in hierarchical and dogmatic ways. Looking back and inwards, I have acknowledged the fact that I am not a manager. And I will never be.

Now I understand the perspectives of those gatekeepers: I have not had the experience and past evidence through the practice of being a manager. I will never be the perfect candidate through their candid eyes.

I have made peace with the shadow manager within me. We had a chat. I have something better for you, I told him. I have seen you be a leader with people across your organizations without any hierarchical constraints. Then I added, I have seen how you are impacting people in your communities, locally and globally. I assure you, you have the high-level intuition of a leader, I whispered to his ears. As a tear drops from his eyes, he replies, I am ready to morph into that leader.

As I wiped away the tears on his face, I told him: They don’t see you. Now I see you. And we smile together in the darkness of my head.

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Ahmadou Diallo ✪

Ahmadou Diallo ✪


🤎 Afropean 📖 Griot 🧙🏿‍♂️Mentor 💪🏿 Entrepreneur