10 Ways to Spot a Know-It-All

Everyone else is wrong, when you know you’re right.

Their brilliance decreases as you imagine yours going up. There’s an inverse relationship between how smart you think you are and how dumb you think others are.


“Brilliant” leaders are usually surrounded by “idiots.”

10 ways to spot a know-it-all:

  1. Their life’s a mess but they’re telling others how to live.
  2. They haven’t failed big in the last five years.
  3. They seldom take advice.
  4. They judge quickly.
  5. They’re brilliant at pointing out problems but reluctant to take action.
  6. They can always do it better, even if they’ve never done it.
  7. They talk more than listen. The more power they have the more they talk and the dumber they become.
  8. They establish adversarial relationships with people who get things done.
  9. They’re constantly thinking, “It can’t be that hard,” while others struggle.
  10. They expect more from others than they expect from themselves.

7 ways to deal with your own brilliance:

  1. Let go of process. Hang on to result. Explain results but let others figure out how to get there.
  2. Generate three options before moving forward. You’re on thin ice if you think there’s only one answer.
  3. Hang around smart people. There’s an inverse relationship between how smart you think you are and the brilliance of people you rub elbows with.
  4. Realize brilliance in one area isn’t brilliance everywhere. Before telling others what to do, ask yourself, “Have I ever done this before?” The things you haven’t done look easy.
  5. Embrace confidence in your ability to learn. Over-confidence knows – real confidence learns.
  6. Keep repeating in your head, “I could be wrong, I could be wrong, I could be wrong,” even when you know you’re right.
  7. Say, “I have a brilliance problem,” when you think you’re smarter than everyone else.

How can leaders be good at being smart?