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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 May 7, 2019

How to Detect a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

How to Detect a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

Work in any competitive field long enough, and you’re bound to run into a wolf in sheep’s clothing. It’s a powerful image. A shepherd watches over his flock to protect them from harm. He’d chase away any predator that tried to make its way into the flock. A clever wolf wearing the skin of a sheep as a disguise can sneak by the vigilant shepherd and get into the herd undetected.

The story isn’t just a colorful description–it’s a warning to all of us to beware the wolf in sheep’s clothing. They may seem innocent, but they have ulterior motives. They’ll use different tactics to camouflage their intentions.

The person who is kind to you, but undercuts you when you aren’t around is a wolf in disguise. A wolf in sheep’s clothing might pick your brain for ideas and then pass them off as their own to get a promotion. They’re always looking out for themselves at the expense of everyone around them.

Wearing a Disguise Has Its Advantages

People don’t go out of their way to manipulate others unless they’re getting something out of it. Hiding their intentions gives wolves the chance to manipulate other people to advance their own agenda. They know that what they’re trying to do wouldn’t be popular, or it might cause struggle if they presented themselves honestly.

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    They’ll be able to do what they want with less interference if they put on an act. By the time people figure out their true motives, the wolf has what it wants.

    Signs That Someone Is a Wolf in Disguise

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        1. They live to take power instead of empowering others. A wolf uses people as stepping stones to get the things that they want. They don’t care what happens to anyone else.[1] A wolf at work might make you look bad during a presentation to make themselves look amazing in front of the boss.
        2. Wolves seem sweet on the outside, but they’ll show you their teeth. If wolves revealed their true identity, people wouldn’t associate with them. They develop a friendly or kind persona, but they can’t keep up the act 24/7. Eventually, they’ll reveal their aggressive tendencies. A wealthy person who likes to break the law may make sizable charitable donations to convince people that they are kind and thoughtful. These donations largely keep them out of trouble, but if someone calls them out, they destroy that person’s reputation to stifle the criticism.
        3. They manipulate through emotions to get what they want. Wolves know that they can get ahead by appealing to your emotions. They find out what you want and need, and they give you just enough to keep you quiet and compliant. Imagine that your boss is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, and you want to ask for a vacation. She might try to play on your guilt and feelings of insecurity to get you to skip vacation or take fewer days off.
        4. A wolf will charm you first. Wolves are experts at manipulating the people around them. They appear interested in whatever you’re doing, and you’ll get the impression that they care. After they get you where they want you, they do just enough to keep you on the hook. This is the coworker who may start out being your friend, but they end up dumping responsibility onto you. When they see that you are growing frustrated, they’ll surprise you with something to charm you some more. Then, they’ll continue to do whatever they want.
        5. Their stories are full of holes.  Calling a wolf out is the surest way to make them squirm. When this person tries to come up with a story, it won’t make much sense because they are improvising.[2] The classic example of this is the significant other that you suspect has cheated on you. When you ask them why they came home so late, they’ll either become upset with you, or they’ll make up a weak explanation.

        How to Spot a Wolf

          Know What’s Real So You Can Spot the Phony

          Do some homework so that you have as much of the story as possible before you work with them. Research how they respond in certain situations, or give them hypothetical problems to see how they respond.

          A job applicant might tell you that she’s always positive and thinks of herself as a team-player. That’s what every employer wants to hear. During the interview you ask applicants to work in groups to solve a problem to see how they handle the situation. The applicant “positive team-player” is bossy and negative. You’ve spotted the wolf.

          A wolf will tell you something that ultimately benefits them. Gather evidence that proves or disproves their position, and see what happens. Chances are, when you choose the side that supports their agenda, they’ll act like your best friend. If you disagree, they’ll become aggressive.

          Spotting a potential wolf–especially if you are one of the sheep–can present you with some challenges. If your gut tells you that a wolf is lurking among all the other sheep, pay attention, and make sure you take the next step.

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          Ask Questions, the More the Better

          There’s nothing wrong with asking questions to uncover the truth. The safety of everyone in your group is at risk. Since wolves often make up stories, you may be able to call them out when their tales lack details.

          When they state an opinion, ask “Why do you think that?” or “How do you know it’s like that?” They’ll have trouble coming up with enough information to pull off the lie.

          Since wolves are always pretending to be something they aren’t, they don’t usually have a clearly thought-out reason for what they say. In a debate, they won’t understand the root of an issue.

          They may also tell you what they think you want to hear, but when pressed for more information, they won’t have anything to add. Their knowledge is superficial. No matter how much you try to encourage discussion, they will not be able to carry on a conversation about the subject.

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          Wolves Are Everywhere

          As much as we want to believe that everyone has the best intentions, it isn’t always the case. Some people only do things to benefit themselves, and they don’t care who they hurt in the process.

          Wolves in sheep’s clothing can be found in almost every setting. You can’t get rid of them, but if you can spot them, you can avoid falling into their traps.

          Reference

          [1] Association of Biblical Counselors: Three Ways to Spot a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing
          [2] Power of Positivity: Beware of a wolf in sheep’s clothing

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