Advertising
Advertising

Why There Are So Few Successful People in the World: Talents Are Overrated

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.

Advertising

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.

Advertising

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.

Advertising

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.

Advertising

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.

Featured photo credit: Stephanie Lawton via flickr.com

Reference

More by this author

J.S. von Dacre

Writer at Lifehack

Alert: If You Always Avoid Things You Fear, You May Have This Issue 10 Best Romance Movies That Reflect the Harsh Reality of Relationships Things Parents Do Unconsciously That Make Their Kids Become Codependent If You’re Overly Dependent, Probably It Is Due to the Scars of Childhood 90% of People Confuse Codependency with Intense Love. Are You One of Them?

Trending in Psychology

1How the Stages of Change Model Helps You Change Your Habits 2Narcissistic Personality: What Is It and How to Deal with a Narcissist? 3What Makes a Relationship Boring and How to Avoid It 4How We Are Confusing Self-Love with Narcissism In This Generation 5A Negotiation Is Like a Game, You Can’t Get the Best Deal Without a Strategy

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on August 20, 2018

How the Stages of Change Model Helps You Change Your Habits

How the Stages of Change Model Helps You Change Your Habits

Change is tough, there’s no doubt about it. Old habits are hard to shift, and adopting a new lifestyle can feel like an uphill battle!

In this article, you will learn about a simple yet powerful model:

Stages of change model, that explains the science behind personal transformation.

You’ll discover how and why some changes stick whereas others don’t last, and how long it takes to build new habits.

What is the Stages of Change Model?

Developed by researchers J.O. Prochaska and Carlo C. DiClemente over 30 years ago[1] and outlined in their book Changing For Good, the Stages of Change Model, also known as the Transtheoretical Model, was formed as a result of the authors’ research with smokers.

Prochaska and DiClemente were originally interested in the question of why some smokers were able to quit on their own, whereas others required professional help. Their key conclusion was that smokers (or anyone else with a bad habit) quits only when they are ready to do so.

Here’s an illustration done by cartoonist and illustrator Simon Kneebone about the different stages a smoker experiences when they try to quit smoking:

Advertising

    The Stages of Change Model looks at how these conscious decisions are made. It emphasizes that change isn’t easy. People can spend a long time stuck in a stage, and some may never reach their goals.[2]

    The model has been applied in the treatment of smoking, alcoholism, and drugs. It is also a useful way of thinking about any bad habit. Social workers, therapists, and psychologists draw on the model to understand their patients’ behaviors, and to explain the change process to the patients themselves.

    The key advantages to the model is that it is simple to understand, is backed by extensive research, and can be applied in many situations.

    The Stages of Change Model is a well-established psychological model that outlines six stages of personal change:

    1. Precontemplation
    2. Contemplation
    3. Determination
    4. Action
    5. Maintenance
    6. Termination

    How are these stages relevant to changing habits?

    To help you visualize the stages of change and how each progresses to the next one, please take a look at this wheel:[3]

      Let’s look at the six stages of change,[4] together with an example that will show you how the model works in practice:

      Stage 1: Precontemplation

      At this stage, an individual does not plan to make any positive changes in the next six months. This may because they are in denial about their problem, feel too overwhelmed to deal with it, or are too discouraged after multiple failed attempts to change.

      Advertising

      For example, someone may be aware that they need to start exercising, but cannot find the motivation to do so. They might keep thinking about the last time they tried (and failed) to work out regularly. Only when they start to realize the advantages of making a change will they progress to the next stage.

      Stage 2: Contemplation

      At this stage, the individual starts to consider the advantages of changing. They start to acknowledge that altering their habits would probably benefit them, but they spend a lot of time thinking about the downside of doing so. This stage can last for a long time – possibly a year or more.

      You can think of this as the procrastinating stage. For example, an individual begins to seriously consider the benefits of regular exercise, but feels resistant when they think about the time and effort involved. When the person starts putting together a concrete plan for change, they move to the next stage.

      The key to moving from this stage to the next is the transformation of an abstract idea to a belief (e.g. from “Exercise is a good, sensible thing to do” to “I personally value exercise and need to do it.)[5]

      Stage 3: Preparation

      At this point, the person starts to put a plan in place. This stage is brief, lasting a few weeks. For example, they may book a session with a personal trainer and enrol on a nutrition course.

      Someone who drinks to excess may make an appointment with a drug and alcohol counsellor; someone with a tendency to overwork themselves might start planning ways to devise a more realistic schedule.

      Stage 4: Action

      When they have decided on a plan, the individual must then put it into action. This stage typically lasts for several months. In our example, the person would begin attending the gym regularly and overhauling their diet.

      Stage 4 is the stage at which the person’s desire for change becomes noticeable to family and friends. However, in truth, the change process began a long time ago. If someone you know seems to have suddenly changed their habits, it’s probably not so sudden after all! They will have progressed through Stages 1-3 first – you probably just didn’t know about it.

      Advertising

      Stage 5: Maintenance

      After a few months in the Action stage, the individual will start to think about how they can maintain their changes, and make lifestyle adjustments accordingly. For instance, someone who has adopted the habit of regular workouts and a better diet will be vigilant against old triggers (such as eating junk food during a stressful time at work) and make a conscious decision to protect their new habits.

      Unless someone actively engages with Stage 5, their new habits are liable to come unstuck. Someone who has stuck to their new habits for many months – perhaps a year or longer – may enter Stage 6.

      Maintenance can be challenging because it entails coming up with a new set of habits to lock change in place. For instance, someone who is maintaining their new gym-going habit may have to start improving their budgeting skills in order to continue to afford their gym membership.

      Stage 6: Termination

      Not many people reach this stage, which is characterized by a complete commitment to the new habit and a certainty that they will never go back to their old ways. For example, someone may find it hard to imagine giving up their gym routine, and feel ill at the thought of eating junk food on a regular basis.

      However, for the majority of people, it’s normal to stay in the Maintenance period indefinitely. This is because it takes a long time for a new habit to become so automatic and natural that it sticks forever, with little effort. To use another example, an ex-smoker will often find it hard to resist the temptation to have “just one” cigarette even a year or so after quitting. It can take years for them to truly reach the Termination stage, at which point they are no more likely to smoke than a lifelong non-smoker.

      How long does each stage take?

      You should be aware that some people remain in the same stage for months or even years at a time. Understanding this model will help you be more patient with yourself when making a change. If you try to force yourself to jump from Contemplation to Maintenance, you’ll just end up frustrated. On the other hand, if you take a moment to assess where you are in the change process, you can adapt your approach.

      So if you need to make changes quickly and you are finding it hard to progress to the next stage, it’s probably time to get some professional help or adopt a new approach to forming habits.

      The limitations of this model

      The model is best applied when you decide in advance precisely what you want to achieve, and know exactly how you will measure it (e.g. number of times per week you go to the gym, or number of cigarettes smoked per day). Although the model has proven useful for many people, it does have limitations.

      Advertising

      Require the ability to set a realistic goal

      For a start, there are no surefire ways of assessing whereabouts in the process you are – you just have to be honest with yourself and use your own judgement. Second, it assumes that you are physically capable of making a change, whereas in fact you might either need to adjust your goals or seek professional help.

      If your goal isn’t realistic, it doesn’t matter whether you follow the stages – you still won’t get results. You need to decide for yourself whether your aims are reasonable.[6]

      Difficult to judge your progress

      The model also assumes that you are able to objectively measure your own successes and failures, which may not always be the case.[7] For instance, let’s suppose that you are trying to get into the habit of counting calories as part of your weight-loss efforts. However, even though you may think that you are recording your intake properly, you might be over or under-estimating.

      Research shows that most people think they are getting enough exercise and eating well, but in actual fact aren’t as healthy as they believe. The model doesn’t take this possibility into account, meaning that you could believe yourself to be in the Action stage yet aren’t seeing results. Therefore, if you are serious about making changes, it may be best to get some expert advice so that you can be sure the changes you are making really will make a positive difference.

      Conclusion

      The Stages Of Change Model can be a wonderful way to understand change in both yourself and others.

      While there’re some limitations in it, the Stages of Change Model helps to visualize how you go through changes so you know what to expect when you’re trying to change a habit or make some great changes in life.

      Start by identifying one of your bad habits. Where are you in the process? What could you do next to move forwards?

      Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

      Reference

      [1]Psych Central: Stages Of Change
      [2]Boston University School Of Public Health: The Transtheoretical Model (Stages Of Change)
      [3]Empowering Change: Stages of Change
      [4]Boston University School Of Public Health: The Transtheoretical Model (Stages Of Change)
      [5]Psychology Today: 5 Steps To Changing Any Behavior
      [6]The Transtheoretical Model: Limitations Of The Transtheoretical Model
      [7]Health Education Research: Transtheoretical Model & Stages Of Change: A Critique

      Read Next