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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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Last Updated on February 19, 2019

Why a Life Without Pain Is the Guarantee to True Suffering

Why a Life Without Pain Is the Guarantee to True Suffering

No one wants to suffer. As a general rule, people like to avoid hurt and pain as much as possible. As a species, humans want a painless existence so much that scientists make a living trying to create it.

People can now choose “pain-free” labor for babies, and remedies to cure back pain, headaches, body-pains and even mental pains are a dime a dozen. Beyond medicine, we also work hard to experience little pain even when it comes to loss; often times we believe a breakup won’t hurt as much if we are the ones to call it off.

But would a world without pain truly be painless? It’s unlikely. In fact, it would probably be painful exactly for that reason.

If people never experienced hurt, they wouldn’t know what it was. On the surface level, that seems like a blessing, but think for a moment: if we didn’t know pain, how would we know peace? If you don’t know you’ve hurt or been hurt, how would you know that you need to heal? Imagine someone only knowing they have an incurable cancer at the final stage because no obvious symptoms have appeared at early stages.

Without the feeling of pain, people won’t be aware of dangerous situations—what should or shouldn’t do for survival.

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Pain Is Our Guardian

Pain serves to protect human beings from harmful actions. It’s the same reason parents teach babies that fire equals hot, and that hot equals hurt. Should the baby still place its hand in a fire or on a stove, the intense pain remains so memorable, that the child is certain never to repeat that action.

In the same way, pain within human bodies can serve as a warning that something is not right. Because you know what it is to feel “well,” you know what it is to feel poorly.[1]

Along with serving as a teacher of what not to do, pain also teaches you what you are made of in terms of what you can handle as an individual.

While the cliche, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” is a tired term, it’s used excessively for a reason: it’s true. Pain helps you learn to cope with life’s inevitable difficulties and sadnesses— to develop the grit it takes to push past hardships and carry on.

Whether it’s a shattering pain, like the loss of a loved one or a debilitating accident, pain affects everyone differently. But it still affects everyone. Take a breakup as an example, anyone who has experienced it knows it can hurt to the point of feeling physical. Especially the first breakup. At a young age, it feels like the loss of the only love you’ll ever know. As you grow and learn, you realize you’re more resilient with every ended relationship.

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No Pain, No Happiness

You only know happiness when you have known pain. While the idea of constant happiness sounds nice, there is little chance it would be. Without the comparison to happiness, there’s no reason to be grateful for it. That is to say, without ever knowing sadness or pain, you would have no reason to be grateful for happiness.

In reality, there is always something missing, or something unpleasant, but it is only through those realizations that you know to be grateful when you feel you have it all. Read more about why happiness and pain have to exist together: Chasing Happiness Won’t Make You Happy

In a somewhat counter-intuitive finding, researchers found one of the things that brings about the most happiness is challenge. When people are tested, they experience a greater sense of accomplishment and happiness when they are successful. It is largely for this reason that low-income individuals can often feel happier than those who have a sense of wealth.[2]

This is a great thing to remember the next time you feel you would be happier if you just had a little more cash.

Avoiding Pain Leads to More Suffering

Pain is inevitable, embrace it positively. Anyone who strives to have a painless life is striving for perfectionism; and perfectionism guarantees sadness because nothing will ever be perfect.

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This isn’t a bleak outlook, but rather a truthful one. The messy moments in life tend to create the best memories and gratitude. Pain often serves as a reminder of lessons learned, much like physical scars on the body.

Pain will always be painful, but it’s the hurt feelings that help wiser decisions be made.

Allow Room for the Inevitable

Learning how to tolerate pain, especially the emotional kind, is a valuable lesson.

Accepting and feeling pain makes you human. There is no weakness in that. Weakness only comes when you try to blame your own pain on someone else, expecting the blame to alleviate your hurting. There’s a saying,

“Holding on to anger is like drinking poison and expecting your enemy to die.”

Think back to the last time you were really angry with someone. Maybe you were hurt because you got laid off from a job. You felt angry and that anger caused so much pain that you could feel it in a physical way. Being angry and blaming your ex boss for that pain didn’t affect him or her in any way; you’re the only one who lost sleep over it.

The healthier thing to do in a situation like that is acknowledge your pain and the anger along with it. Accept it and explore it in an introspective way. How can you learn and grow? What is at the root of that pain? Are you truly hurting and angry about being laid off, or is the pain more a correlation to you feeling like you failed?

While uncomfortable, exploring your pain is a way to raise your self-awareness. By understanding more about yourself, you know how to deal with similar situations in the future. You can never expect to be numb to difficult situations, but you will learn to better prepare financially for the loss of a job and be grateful for an income since you now know nothing is promised (no matter how much you work or how deserving you may feel).

Pain Hurts, but Numbness Would Be Worse

Pain does not feel good, but the bad feeling of it will help you learn and grow. It makes the sweet moments in life even sweeter and the gratitude more sincere.

To have a happier and more successful life, you don’t learn from success or accomplishment, but through pain and failures. For it is in those moments that you learn how to do better in the future or at least cope a little more easily.

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You are the strong person you are today because of the hardships this life has presented to you. While you may have felt out of control when those hard times came, the one thing you will always have control over is how you choose to react to things. The next time you hurt or you’re angry or sad, acknowledge it and allow yourself to ruminate in it. Then take a deep breath and start learning from that pain. You’ve got this!

Featured photo credit: Stocksnap via stocksnap.io

Reference

[1] University of Calgary: Why is Pain Important?
[2] Greater Good Magazine: The Importance of Pain

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