I suffered from severe asthma attacks when I was young and carried an inhaler with me everywhere. I went a long time without a single attack until one day something in the air triggered a massive seizure.
At a pharmacy I looked for the brand of inhaler I was using years ago, only to find that the Manufacturer stopped production a few years ago. They suggested a new inhaler that I had never heard of.
Now imagine if I were a doctor who graduated years ago and whose only knowledge was the old inhaler the I had. Such a doctor would be intelligent, but irrelevant. If doctors only wrote prescriptions based solely on what they learned in medical school, they would be de facto serial killers. Medicines are changing and so is the human response to many medicines. Your intelligence is not a timeless constant. You are powerful because of your intelligence in solving a problem. Intelligence has relevance.
The Concise Oxford Dictionary defines relevance as the quality or state of being closely related or appropriate. However, being intelligent does not guarantee relevance. This is a big trap that many intelligent people fall into. You are led to believe that there is such a thing as once smart, always smart. This is a fallacy. What gives value to intelligence is relevance.
A person who was intelligent and adept at fixing typewriters in the 1970s and 1980s may still be one, but since then such intelligence has not been more relevant and useless since typewriters no longer exist. However, a not-so-intelligent person whose services remain relevant in the current decade will outshine one who is no longer relevant.
Success and Wealth
How relevant you are to your world today? People don’t get paid because they’re smart, they get paid because they’re relevant. Relevance does not depend on how smart you are, nor on your size, nor on your success and wealth today. It depends on how innovative you are and how good you are at reading the future and using innovation to capture it.
Value never follows the irrelevant. You have to worry about the durability of your current model or mindset. The more relevant you are, the more value you add. The key to lasting relevance is re-creation. True power flows from relevance. The more relevant you are, the more powerful you will be.
Leaders who fail to read the signs of the times are frozen in the past. Remember: intelligence is not to be confused with wisdom, which is the correct or relevant application of knowledge.
A unit’s continued success is determined by how connected or useful it is in the context of its environment. Success is the reward for relevance. That applies across the board. If something is relevant, it resonates. Resonance means evoking images, memories and emotions.
If you are relevant, you will resonate with people. The more people you reach, the more relevant and successful you are.
Monuments to God
Europe has some of the greatest cathedrals in the world. Billions have been invested in building these architectural wonders, but many are now being converted into shopping malls, apartments or even mosques. Why? When the message stopped ringing from the pulpit, relevance was lost and patronage declined.
On the other hand, we have huge churches in Africa that overflow every week. People flock there in their thousands to donate millions. Many intelligent people cannot understand the logic behind a poor person going to an apparently wealthy church and giving away their income. The answer lies in relevance.
The message that God will improve your life resonates in a society riddled with poverty and where the majority see no light at the end of the tunnel. The message of these houses of worship resonates with the majority of people in the developing world.
In fact, religion is one of the most powerful driving forces on earth and even wars have been fought over it. Few things consume people’s minds and personalities like religion. But unlike the powerful biblical Pharisees and Sadducees who were swept into obscurity, the wise way out is to bring yourself back into relevance.
Wale Akinyemi is Chief Transformation Officer, power talks; [emailprotected]