Archive for August 10th, 2005

Butterbur

Over the past thirty years I have read the Lord of the Rings (LOTR) trilogy, plus The Hobbit which preceded it, at least a dozen times.

One of the light characters in the Trilogy is the innkeeper Butterbur. He is always run off his feet and forgetful and funny.

But one of the main characters in the LOTR made a remark about how Butterbur would not know something, and Gandalf, the ultimate wise man, replied, “Don’t underestimate Butterbur. His mind is slow, but in time he can see through a brick wall.”

One of my advisors is a multimillionaire who is embarrassed that, compared to mine, his IQ is low.

Well, he’s right about that. My IQ is very high. I am also a genius, which means I not only have a high IQ, but I am creative, which is something entirely separate from intelligence.

But I have another quality I am proud of. It is the kind of wisdom Gandalf displayed in speaking of Butterbur. It is harder to define than a high IQ or creativity.

It is certainly not humility. I have little or none of that. But I am able to appreciate and USE the ability of someone who can see through a brick wall.

My advisor’s mind does not move at fast as mine does. At least 95% of what he comes up with I have already thought of.

But what I have difficulty explaining to him is that 100% of what high IQ people say I have already thought of. This makes talking to THEM boring beyond endurance.

The first thing I get out of him is that he often has come up with a way to say what I have come up with in a much better way than I have.

The second advantage is that he does in fact come up with insights I had not thought of.

The third advantage is that he fills in the cracks. He is not as confident as I am that he is right. He builds his conclusions slowly, carefully. He is aware that all those people I ignore may have a point. They usually don’t, but when they do I look ridiculous.

To put the third point another way, he does a lot of intellectual WORK that I don’t.

What really impressed me about Gandalf was that he LEARNED from the Hobbits. All the other Wise Men ignored them.

Saruman, the Leader of the Wise Men who ignored the Butterburs, lost his soul.

Gandalf saved his world.

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