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Why There Are So Few Successful People in the World: Talents Are Overrated
Imagine my surprise when halfway through an application for a writer’s position, I was given an IQ test. Unbeknownst to me, their requirement was that candidates should score over 132.
Considering I was not attempting to be a Mathematician, I failed to see its relevance. But being British, I had never before encountered an IQ test, so out of curiosity about the questions, I completed it. They determined my score was 146 and I was offered the role.
I, however, declined. I felt disenchanted about working with people who would judge me solely on my analytical skills or MENSA prospects, instead of the strength of my experience or what I could offer. (They barely inquired about my resume).
One of the most intelligent people I know has never been to university. I have met incredibly successful people who may not score as high on these IQ tests due to dyslexia. The truth is the biggest factor that determines success is resilience–not IQ.
A 30-year study by the University of Pennsylvania 1 found that cognitive control had a far greater influence on a child’s success than their IQ or wealth.
IQ too often can used as a prejudice. Furthermore, its creator in the early 1900s, Alfred Binet, himself emphasized the limitations of the test, stating that intellect was too broad to quantify.
We often overlook the numerous failures successful people have gone through
Being talented or having a high IQ does not guarantee success. There are hoards of unsuccessful musicians, artists, actors, businessmen, etc. who are more gifted than their peers who went on to achieve success. The key to that success is resilience.
- Bill Gates’ first company, Traf-O-Data was a failure. In fact, the product did not even work.
- Stephen King’s first book was rejected thirty times. “Carrie” would go on to sell over 350 million copies and become a blockbuster film.
- Oprah endured repeated sexual abuse as a child and consequently ran away from home. At 14-years-old she gave birth to a baby who died not long after. Despite it all, she went on to win a full scholarship to college and is today, one of the wealthiest people in the world.
Research finds why some people with high IQs do not succeed at all
In the 1920s, a research 2 commenced with approximately 1,500 children who had an IQ of at least 140; the average IQ score of the participants was 150. They were frequently monitored to see how high IQs impacted upon their lives.
Group A (the most successful) was compared to Group C (the least successful). Despite sharing the same IQ, most individuals in Group C did not become professionals and earned just a slightly above average wage. There were also higher rates of alcoholism and divorce when compared to Group A.
Those in Group A had three key traits that Group C lacked: goal-orientation, self-confidence, and perseverance. IQ or talent may play a role in success, but resilience is far more important.
How to have more resilience and be a winner in life
Flexible thinking: Remember things change every second
If something does not work in one way, there may be other ways that you could explore. Perhaps it may involve approaching different people or searching for an alternative route.
No record label wanted to sign Jay Z so in the end, he opted to create his own label and the rest is history.
Don’t take failure personally. No one remembers that actually.
Failure is an important part of succeeding. It allows you to re-evaluate areas of improvement. Embrace those moments and all that you can learn from them.
Sir James Dyson had 5,126 failures in his endeavour to create the world’s first bagless hoover–the Dyson Vacuum Cleaner. When he finally did, no distributor in the UK was interested. He instead took it the Japanese market where it won an award. Despite this, manufacturers still did not want to back him so he decided to start his own company. Today, Dyson is a billion dollar business.
Don’t have time limits. Don’t restrict yourself.
Many people tend to put time constraints on themselves. The idea that you should have achieved a certain thing before you are thirty, forty or fifty simply creates unnecessary stress.
Colonel Sanders, the founder of KFC, came up with his recipe at the age of 50 and it wasn’t until he was 62 that he started to pitch his recipe to restaurants. At 74, he was able to sell his franchise for 2 million dollars.
Practice mindfulness to offload your worries and anxiety
This is the concept of being in the here and now. Most of the things that you feel worried or anxious about exist only in the future. Those worse case scenarios you envision may or may never happen. You are simply depleting your energy unnecessarily.
Instead, focus on all that is happening right now. Maybe it is a nice day outside and the sun is shining. Perhaps you may be seeing a good friend for brunch. Or even that joy of working on something that you really believe in.
Resilience is being able to cope with those obstacles that you will, no doubt, encounter along your path to your dreams and ambitions. No one is immune to some form of hardship or challenge.
And most importantly, find moments that allow you to enjoy you. After all, you owe it to yourself. It’s a life term.
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