It’s easy to say to ourselves and one another, “Just follow your dreams and everything will work out.” While the first half of this sentence isn’t necessarily bad advice, it must be balanced with a truth that few people genuinely accept. Yes, pursuing one’s passion has rarely been a poor choice within the heart, but what’s one characteristic we all value for its infinite practicality? That desired trait is intelligence.
If given the chance, we’d all love to be smarter. That is to say, we’d all love to have better and deeper opportunities to use our intelligence. The most surprising thing is everyone does have this chance, it’s just that the windows of opportunity are rarely converted from mere words to defining disciplines.
Before you assume that only some people can be the “Bill Gateses” and “Amancio Ortegas” of the world, I’d like to lay this myth to rest. In 2011, David Shenk published a book called The Genius In All Of Us that effectively and informatively killed the idea that some are “gifted” and others are doomed to scrape out a life of mediocrity. Shenk uses both high-quality research studies and a personal touch via anecdotal elements to deliver an encouraging, honest and challenging book to the reader.
Despite the fact that everyone has untold potential, some still wander through the halls of complacency, while others soar to personal new heights. Individuals who have not achieved what they’ve wanted frequently desire to have better, and those who have already obtained excellence regularly seek to perpetuate it.
So the question stands: How can everyone increase their intellectual capacity and performance? The following tips provide insight on actions anyone can take to see better results from increasing intelligence.
10. Address Your Habits
Ever since grade school, most of us have learned that habits are important. We use habits to create our livelihood in most ways. It’s how people further root (or remove) both positive and negative behaviors in life. Charles Duhigg proved once and for all in his landmark best-selling book, The Power Of Habit, that habits truly do control everything else in life. Master your habits, and you’ll achieve anything you want – including enriching your intelligence!
9. Sharpen Your Identity Before You Accomplish Your Activity
One of the most overlooked aspects of deepening one’s intelligence is identity. Yes, it’s great to ace that test, finish that project, or close that sale, but none of those accomplishments have gobs of meaning outside of identity. For example, an individual whose primary skill set and passion is music may be an electrician by day to earn an income to cover their bills. Therefore, while growing in their knowledge of electrical systems may be valuable, if they really want to play music (and make money at it) for the rest of their life, what would be the best choice with their free time?
Indelible self-help giant Jim Rohn once said, “The major value in life is not what you get; the major value in life is what you become.” To approach your work in the most intelligent manner for the long-term, remain focused on exactly that: the long-term. Who do you most want to be within your work?
8. Become A Reader
Reading is one of the most frequently recommended tips for optimizing your intelligence, and for good reason. Reading requires your brain to be active while consuming words; making sense of sentences and arranging those words into more intricate, big-picture structures. Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, two of the most successful individuals of all time, have almost incessantly recommended reading as a shoo-in for accomplishing virtually any personal goal. Why is it so important to them?
Aside from observing the world and creating your own, reading is the number one way to discover and then implement new ideas. Reading is literally consuming someone else’s brain on paper. Therefore, you’re apt to learn more about the world in a much faster time than simply not reading (like YouTubing or gaming all day).
At this point, you may be thinking, “Well duh! Of course reading is important. I learned that in grade school!” You’d be correct to posit such a thought. The catch is that not all written material was created equal. In addition to reading as often as you can, it’s crucial to also…
7. Consume The Best Of The Best
Reading for pleasure, as well as consuming what generations before you have deemed excellent, is of high value. There are a few benefits to this. For one, you get to see who has left a massive mark on the world before you arrived. It shows you a lot about what has already helped shape the world, and what people may compare your work to when you’ve made a contribution. Two, it can also provide inspiration for your own projects on a deeper level. There’s nothing like being able to turn to a favorite book, movie, song, piece of art, or another creation to spur you towards greater personal excellence.
6. Become A Writer
Writing things down (no matter how silly or insignificant they might seem) is actually one of the best ways to increase your intelligence. As you write thoughts down, it actually improves your memory, both short-term and long-term. Make sure to use a real pen and paper since studies show that laptop note-takers don’t receive the same benefits.
5. Engage In A Variety Of Information
The more holistically you seek out information (as well as entertainment), and the more holistically you can view the world, the more effectively you can solve problems and even enjoy the beauty of the big picture! Enjoying (or learning to enjoy) multiple topics is a surefire way to discover crossover between subjects. For example, someone who started as an exercise junkie may discover a newfound passion for holistic health and nutrition through an athlete they look up to (or a new book they’ve read). You’ll never know what kinds of new interests you might come across. Coming to enjoy various experiences and pools of knowledge gives you a depth of appreciation that remaining in one category cannot.
4. Specialize In A Few Fields
It’s no secret that the best of the best are specialists in a few areas. For example, self-development guru and best-selling author Tony Robbins is both an exemplary speaker and visual communicator. So much of his regular presentations and seminars would be completely meaningless (or at least far less impressive) if he wasn’t such a powerful communicator. Every single word and action he gives or takes on stage is perfectly executed.
The importance of this example is to recognize the value in becoming a specialist of a few things. You can’t master everything, so don’t even try. Instead, utilize the time, energy, and focus you actually have to blow others out of the water in a few pockets of the world. For example, an aspiring writer might not be the next fiction superstar author, but they can certainly deliver value on a personally unprecedented level. This may manifest from building a tribe of a few thousand readers who absolutely love the author’s work and want them to keep writing more books. You don’t need to be the next J.K. Rowling or George R.R. Martin, but you can absolutely be the best version of yourself in your most innate activities!
3. Make Sure You Love What You Do
There’s no sense in beating your head against a figurative (or literal) brick wall in the name of trying to make something work. The smartest people in the world understand their limits, and what to do because of them. You don’t need to be Superman or Superwoman – that’s a lot of work as it is! It’s critical to know what lights your heart up every day in order to actually do your best, most intelligent work. If you don’t know what that is yet, no problem. Simply use your free time in the way it feels most natural to you, and you’ll (re)discover it in no time.
2. Be Willing And Able To Work “Smard”
Working “smard” is working both hard and smart. In other words, you should be committed to the long haul of all your goals, but not to the extent that you make anything more difficult than it should be. This doesn’t mean you should look for shortcuts, it simply means you should seek the feedback of individuals who have gone before you and done what you want to do. The people who are already in the place you desire to be should remain some of your most prized mentors. Also, relentlessly test your own methods. Constantly ask yourself if you’re getting the results you want, and if not, how you can change your habits.
1. Learn From The Mistakes And Expertise Of Others
There’s nothing friendlier to an intelligent person striving for greater smarts than this: Observe the world closely so you can avoid foolish mistakes. There are always pitfalls to watch out for – if you simply have the eyes for them. It’s important to keep your individuality in mind in such circumstances. To put it another way, what satisfies a friend or family member may not provide long-term fulfillment for you. People may not always talk about their mistakes, but you can always sense when someone hasn’t given life their all. Watch for how people talk about their vocation to discover how much it fulfills them. Then, ponder what they claim to love (as well as hate) alongside your own perspective, so you can avoid the worst and pursue the best.