Albert Einstein was smart.
I don’t know too many people who would argue about that today. But, we do pretty much take it for granted. We don’t ever really stop and think about how we know he was so smart.
It’s a little bit like this scientific paper concluding that there is no Level I evidence that parachutes help survival when skydiving. It just makes sense. So we don’t ask other questions.
Now, in both cases, there is some pretty strong anecdotal or Level V evidence so support that Einstein was smart and you better where a parachute if you go skydiving.
But, in the case of Einstein, what is the most convincing?
Einstein was smart because he was simple
There is a quote attributed to him that goes something like, “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”
I just came across this one recently and it immediately became one of my favorites. And of course, I am biased. One of the tenants of my professional and personal life is to “keep it simple, stupid.”
I’ve always believed that that person I wanted to learn something – anything – from was the one who could dumb it down and make it as simple as possible. To me, that is a sign of comprehension, understanding, and ultimately genius.
Did Einstein achieve this?
I would say yes.
Einstein certainly wasn’t the first of the celebrity scientists. But I would say that he broke the fired wide open in terms of bringing it to the masses. Just like there were amazing basketball players before Michael Jordan, but Jordan really exploded its popularity.
Look at the list of scientists influenced by Einstein. He was a major influence to Stephen Hawking who is responsible for sampling these ideas and bringing them to the public maybe even more than Einstein.
Einstein’s unique past and previous failings also lend themselves to this “simple is better” mantra. They are equally inspiring as well.
How does this apply to medicine?
Medicine is complicated. Any aspect of it is. And here I’m going to talk about plastic surgery. But you can substitute any specialty in.
Throughout my education in plastic surgery, both during training and continuing now, I been able to lump educators into two broad categories – simplifiers and complexifiers.
There are those who are able to break down a complex surgery or topic into its component parts so that I can understand them and implement them. And then there are those who can take the same surgery or idea and make it seem so complicated and complex that I feel like I don’t get it anymore.
It is always the simplifiers who seem to actually understand the topic better themselves. And those are the mentors that I seek out to learn from.
I’m sure you have had similar experiences…
The same also applies to personal finance…
I hope that this blog demonstrates that personal finance is actually not that difficult. Despite seeming like a black box for us because most of us don’t get any formal financial education, the basic principles are easy to understand and implement once you learn them.
And they are much easier to learn than medicine. So you’ve already accomplished something way more difficult!
In general, for personal finance, if you are talking to someone and you don’t understand what they are saying – about an investment or anything personal finance related – there are usually only two reasons for that:
- They don’t understand it themselves, or
- They want to make it seem so complicated so you think only they can do it and will pay them to do it for you
Now, I am not against getting good financial help for the right price at all. But you should still understand what any financial advisor is doing for you. If you don’t, that’s a problem.
Keep it simple, stupid.
It worked for Einstein, and he was smart.
And in the meantime, here are some down-to-basics posts about creating the right financial habits to achieve financial freedom!
- How Much Is Enough Retirement Savings?
- The 3 Most Tempting Current Investments to Avoid
- Stress Free Stock Market Investing Is Easier Than It Seems!
- Defining the Most Important Variables in the FIRE Equation
What do you think? Do you agree with the principle of simplification as an assessment of understanding? Why or why not? Let me know in the comments below!