Plato. Newton. Einstein. Hawking. These are some of the most brilliant minds since the dawn of humanity. Despite the fact that each of them lived during different eras of human history, they all had many traits in common. While each of them may have been born with the gift of extreme intelligence, it’s what they did with this gift that cemented their place in the history books. The most intelligent people throughout humanity are known as such for the following reasons.
1. They’re adaptable.
Intelligent people are able to adapt to any given situation they find themselves in. They don’t make excuses when resources are limited; they find a way to accomplish their goals regardless of the roadblocks set up in front of them. For example, Isaac Newton invented calculus in the 1600s; obviously, he didn’t have the help of calculators and computers when doing so. Stephen Hawking has done more from his wheelchair than the majority of us have done with zero limitations placed upon us. No matter what adversity they face, intelligent people get things done.
2. They know there’s more to know.
The smartest people in the world know there’s always more to learn. They’re never content with knowing what they know, and strive to expand their knowledge every day of their lives. Ironically, the smartest people in the world know they will never know everything, while those who are quite limited in their knowledge actually believe they know all there is to know. The true mark of an intelligent person is the ability to admit that there are other, much smarter people in the world.
3. They remain curious.
Like I said, smart people never stop learning. They’re constantly pondering why things are the way they are, and never quite become satisfied with an answer. Scientific theories are constantly being improved upon, as there’s always more to understand about them, and always ways to use this new knowledge to figure out more about our world. Once the scientists and mathematicians of the world figure out one vital piece of information, they use it to work toward understanding more.
4. They ask intelligent questions.
Smart people ask smart questions. They don’t ask questions that have just one obvious answer. Rather, they ask open-ended questions that challenge common ideas and make others see things from another perspective. By asking questions which do not have an immediately accessible answer, they force others to think outside the box, and improve the intelligence and capacity for knowledge all around them.
5. They’re skeptical.
Intelligent people take every piece of information they’re told with a grain of salt. You’ve most likely seen articles with seemingly obvious titles such as “Scientists prove overexposure to sun causes skin cancer,” and thought “Well, yea.” However, even though many facts are generally accepted by the general population, scientists are constantly trying to expand their understanding of these common facts, becoming more and more specialized in their knowledge of them. Using the previous example: although it’s generally accepted that too much sun causes skin cancer, a true scientist will want to know exactly how much sun exposure is too much.
6. They’re open-minded.
Intelligent people are incredibly open to new possibilities and ways of thinking. Although they are skeptical about almost everything, since they are constantly seeking new information they will entertain any idea they come across until they have either proven it right or wrong. This open-mindedness is the the real mother of invention. Intelligent people understand that there’s no such thing as an idea that’s too crazy to work. While others might shun an idea that falls out of their range of understanding, intelligent people will take that idea and make it a reality.
Featured photo credit: Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson Visits NASA Goddard / NASA Goddard Space Flight Center via farm4.staticflickr.com