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10 Signs You’re Exceptionally Smart Though You Don’t Appear To Be

10 Signs You’re Exceptionally Smart Though You Don’t Appear To Be

You could say that there plenty of not-so-bright people walking around, but it’s not that there are so many of them, it’s just that they are usually the loudest. There are a lot of extremely intelligent people out there, but they simply don’t advertise the fact that they are smart. It comes natural to them, and they try to live their lives freely and without consciously drawing attention to themselves. You can call it modesty or plain old good manners, but these people tend to look and sound quite average, until they surprise you with a gem of wisdom. Here are some of the tell-tale signs that you might be one smart cookie, without appearing so.

1. You’re a night owl

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    As recent research suggests, those who prefer to stay up late, and do their best work at night, average higher IQ scores than morning people. That being said, staying up late won’t magically hack your brain into being smarter – smarter people are just more likely to work and party during the night, and sleep in. While all your friends are fast asleep, you are browsing the web for information, reading, learning to play the guitar and finishing up different projects – since this happens behind the scenes, your knowledge and skills will often be a surprise to people.

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    2. You’re the silent type

    You’ll find plenty of misconceptions about quiet people, e.g. being labeled as introverts, socially awkward and so on. This isn’t necessarily true, and while not all quiet people are necessarily smart, highly intelligent people will often refrain from speaking if they are accessing a situation. They will take some time to think about what was said and prepare an adequate response, and they find silence better than pointless small talk.

    3. You face your problems

    You may find yourself faced with a bunch of difficult problems, but a smart person won’t let that bring them down. A very smart person will know how to prioritize and deal with problems as they arise, before things even get a chance to start spinning out of control. If you are the type of person who faces problems and welcomes challenges, always dancing on the age of your comfort zone, chances are that you are fairly intelligent.

    4. You hang out with smart and creative people

    The company you keep is a good reflection of who you are as a person. Exceptionally smart people will tend to hang out with people like them, i.e. smart, creative and cultured. There are always some exceptions, but if about 80% of the people in your life are intelligent and interesting, you probably fit that description as well.

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    5. You strive for perfection

    Perfectionist

      There might not be anything that hints at great intelligence in your appearance or speech, the way you conduct yourself is an excellent indicator. Intelligent people always strive for perfection, so each time you see them you’ll be able to notice a few small improvements. They are always a bit different than before. This perfectionist mentality is applied to all aspects of life, from trying to look their best or working on being a great speaker, to spending hours practicing their golf swing or dart throw.

      6. You tend to be quite self-critical

      There are plenty of narcissists out there who sometimes lie to themselves and others about how good they are at something, so it’s a breath of fresh air to see someone being self-critical and accepting critique. Although someone might not be actively trying to impress and come off as smart, the ability to acknowledge one’s own faults and the willingness to work on correcting them can give their intelligence away.

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      7. You like to stay informed

      Intelligent people like to be up to date with the latest development in a number of different fields, always trying to improve themselves bit by bit. A smart person will stay up to date with local and global news, as well as try to learn all he or she can about topics that are directly related to their life or are interesting to them. Gathering information, learning new things and developing useful skills is a lifelong goal for highly intelligent people, and they will always have a way of keeping themselves busy.

      8. You’re constantly occupied with tons of different projects

      Speaking of keeping busy, a good indicator that you are dealing with a very smart person is the fact that they always have a few projects that they are working on. They might be brushing up on their French and learning a few useful Mandarin phrases, reading up on DIY home repairs, taking dancing lessons, working on some new recipes in the kitchen, or compiling a book on early medieval architecture. While a lot of people like to keep busy, a smart person will fill their free time with activities that help them improve in one way or another. Not all smart people are very productive, but it can be a good indicator of higher intellect.

      9. You ask all the right questions

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      Questions

        When talking to a smart person who doesn’t blow his or her own horn, you’ll notice that they don’t try to hijack the conversation or start long monologues. They will actually sit there quietly and listen to what you have to say, allowing for a few moments of silence here and there as they think things over. However, once they ask a question it really hits the spot. They actually give helpful advice or even get you to come to the right conclusions on your own. If your friends enjoy talking to you and tell you that you are a good listener, you are probably a good friend, and an intelligent one at that.

        10. You don’t think that you are exceptionally smart

        Due to something called the Dunning-Kruger effect people with a low level of competence will tend to overestimate their abilities, whereas highly competent people will tend to sell themselves short. This is due to the fact that the more intelligent, informed and skilled you are, the more you realize just how much space there is to further improve and you are not satisfied with your current knowledge or skill level.

        True intelligence cannot really be hidden away or masked effectively, nor is this the point of exceptionally smart people who appear seemingly normal. They wear their intelligence proudly, but they don’t flaunt it, although these ten signs are a dead giveaway.

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        Vladimir Zivanovic

        CMO at MyCity-Web

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        Last Updated on April 23, 2019

        How to Set Stretch Goals and Keep Your Team Motivated

        How to Set Stretch Goals and Keep Your Team Motivated

        Stretch goals are a lot like physical fitness. When you adopt a physical sport such as running, continual practice leads to increased stamina, growth and progress.

        While commitment to the sport improves performance, true growth happens when you are stretched beyond your comfort zone. I know this from personal experience.

        For years, I was an avid runner. I ran with a variety of running groups in the Washington, D.C., area and in Columbus, Ohio, where I lived prior to moving to the nation’s capital in 2011.

        While I was initially fearful about slacking off on my exercise habit when I moved to D.C., running enthusiasts in the area provided continual motivation, inspiring me to lace up my shoes day after day. Much to my surprise, many of the area’s running stores (including Pacers and Potomac River Running) boasted running groups that met in the mornings and evenings. So, it was relatively easy for a newcomer like me to connect with like-minded peers.

        I was never a particularly fast runner, but I enjoyed the afterglow of the sport: being completely drained but feeling a sense of accomplishment; setting and reaching goals; buying and wearing out new tennis shoes. The sound of throngs of feet pounding the pavement in semi-unison is still enough to bring tears to my eyes. Yes, I sometimes tear up at the start of races.

        Of all the groups I ran with, the Pacers Store group that met on Monday nights in Logan Circle boasted the fastest runners. I met up with the group week after week only to be the slowest runner. It was difficult to muster the courage to get up every week and meet the group knowing what was waiting for me: sweating and watching the backs of fellow runners.

        Each time I joined the group, I was stretching myself without even realizing it. Instead of feeling like I was transitioning into a better running, for a long time I felt I was torturing myself.

        Then something remarkable happened. I went for a run with a different set of runners and noticed my time had improved. I was running at a faster pace and doing so with ease. What was once uncomfortable for me I now handled with ease.

        The reason I was becoming a better runner was because I was taking myself out of my comfort zone and challenging myself physically and mentally. This example illustrates the process of growth.

        Fortunately, we can create situations that stretch us in our personal and professional lives.

        What Is a Stretch Goal?

        A stretch goal – as authors Sim B. Sitkin, C. Chet Miller and Kelly E. See detail an article “The Stretch Goal Paradox” in Harvard Business Review[1] – is something that is extremely difficult and novel. It is something that not everyone does, and it’s sometimes considered impossible.

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        In general, you establish stretch goals by doing things that are difficult or temporarily challenging.

        For instance, when I was first promoted to a senior communications management role, I knew I needed to beef up my relationships with media personalities. I set a goal to once a month book a day of media interviews in New York City – which is home to many media outlets, including SiriusXM radio, CNN, NBC News, HuffPost, VIBE.

        This was a huge goal because it meant not only identifying the right people to meet with but convincing them to meet with me and my team. While I didn’t end up meeting the goal of doing a full day of media interviews in New York City, I met more people than I would have met had I not established the goal and instead stayed in the comfort of my D.C. office.

        It is important to note that just because you establish a stretch goal doesn’t mean you’ll achieve the goal each time. However, the process of trying is guaranteed to provide some level of growth.

        The Importance of Creating Stretch Goals

        The beginning of the year is a perfect time to assess where you are excelling and where there is room for you to grow. I typically start the year by creating a yearlong strategic plan for myself.

        I think about the things that are necessary to do and things that would be cool to do. I assess the people I should know and think through how to meet them. Then I ask myself if the goals are realistic and what would need to happen for me to achieve them.

        Over time, I have learned that there are five things I can do to set stretch goals:

        1. Get Outside of Your Head

        If I exist within the confines of my imagination, I imperil my own growth and creativity.

        If I examine my accomplishments and celebrate them in isolation of others’ accomplishments, my vantage point is limited.

        I want to be comfortable with what I accomplish, but I also want to be motivated by watching others. In some respects, stretching is about expanding your network of friends, associates and mentors. These are the people who will propel or slow your growth and development.

        Since two are better than one, I always value being able to share my progress with others, seek feedback and then map a plan for success.

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        2. Focus on a Couple Areas at a Time

        When setting goals, it is important to focus on a couple of areas at a time. Most of us are only able to focus on a few things at a time, and if you feel you are unable to tackle all that is before you, you may simply disengage.

        I see this in so many areas of life:

        When people get in debt, if they believe the debt is insurmountable, they refuse to look at incoming bills for fear of facing down the debt. Unfortunately, many businesses go awry when setting stretch goals.

        In “The Stretch Goal Paradox,” Sitkin, Miller and See note:

        “Our research suggests that though the use of stretch goals is quite common, successful use is not. And many executives set far too many stretch goals. In the past five years, for example, Tesla failed to meet more than 20 of founder Elon Musk’s ambitious projections and missed half of them by nearly a year, according to the Wall Street Journal.”

        Goal-setting is like a marathon, not a sprint. It doesn’t all need to happen at the same time, and pacing is extremely important if you want to get to the finish line. It is better to focus on a couple goals at a time, master them and then move on to the next thing.

        3. Set Aside Time Each Year to Focus on Goal-Setting

        When I was a managing director for communications for the Advancement Project, I spent the first part of every year facilitating a communications planning meeting.

        The planning meeting began with the team members assessing the goals the team had established in the preceding year, and whether those goals were realistic or not. If we failed to meet certain goals, we broke down why that happened. From there, we brainstormed about possibilities for the current year.

        For instance, one year we set a goal of pitching and getting 24 opinion essays published. This was audacious because no one on the eight-person team had the luxury of focusing exclusively on editing and pitching opinion essays to publications around the world. We would need to focus on pitching in between the rest of our work.

        We hit this goal within the first eight months of the year. Remarkably, in total, we ended up getting 40 opinion essays published that year, which was an indication that our original goal was too low. We upped the goal to 41 the next year, and amazingly, we hit 42 published opinion essays or guest columns.

        From this experience, we not only learned what was feasible, we also learned the power of focus.

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        When we focused as a team on getting the commentary on our issues out in the public domain, we were successful. The key in all of this is that there was a ton of discussion around which goal we’d pursue and why.

        Equally important, as a manager, I didn’t set the goals alone; the team members and I established the goals collaboratively. This ensured buy-in from each individual.

        4. Use the S.M.A.R.T. Goal Model to Set Realistic Goals

        S.M.A.R.T.

        is a synonym for specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-bound. For the sake of this article, the realistic portion of the acronym is most important.

        While you want to set audacious goals, you want to ensure that they are realistic as well. No one is served by setting a goal that is impossible to accomplish.

        Failing to meet goals can be demoralizing for teams, so it’s important to be sober-eyed about what is possible. Additionally, the purpose of setting goals is to advance and grow, not depress morale.

        For instance, my team would have been discouraged had I begun the year asking it to pitch and place 40 opinion essays if we didn’t already have a track record of placing close to two dozen essays.

        By using the S.M.A.R.T. formula, we were able to achieve all that we set out to do.

        5. Break the Goal up into Small Digestible Parts

        I am a recovering perfectionist. As a writer, being a perfectionist can be counterproductive because I can fail to start if I don’t see a clear pathway to victory.

        The same is true with goal-setting. That’s why I join Lifehack’s fellow contributor Deb Knobelman, Ph.D., in noting that it is critically important to break goals into bite-sized chunks.

        When I had a goal of doing daylong media meetings in New York City, I had to think through all the barriers to achieving that goal and all the steps required to meet the goal.

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        One step was identifying which reporters, producers and hosts to engage. Another step was writing a pitch or meeting invitation that would capture their attention. Another step was thinking through the program areas I wanted to highlight and the new angles I could offer to different reporters.

        Since reporters want to cover stories that no one else has written, I needed to come up with fresh angles for each of the reporters I was engaging. An additional step was thinking through who from my team I’d take with me to the various meetings.

        I was clear that, as a talking head, as public relations reps are sometimes called, I needed the right spokesperson in order to land repeated meetings with different outlets.

        A final step was thinking through what I needed to bring to each meeting and which reports, videos and testimonials would buttress our claims and be of interest to media figures.

        As I walked through what was needed to bring my goal of doing daylong meetings to reality, I realized that not only was the idea within reach, but I was excited to tackle the challenge.

        From that point until now, I have learned to break down goals into smaller parts and tackle the smaller parts on the path to knocking the goal out of the park.

        The Bottom Line

        These are my recommendations for setting stretch goals, and there are a ton of other resources to support you in the workplace and in your community.

        For instance, LinkedIn’s Lynda.com platform has a wonderful suite of leadership development videos, including ones on establishing stretch goals. This is a paid resource but may be worth the investment if you lead a team or want to invest in tools for your own growth and development.

        Featured photo credit: Avatar of user Isaac Smith Isaac Smith @isaacmsmith Isaac Smith via unsplash.com

        Reference

        [1] Harvard Business Review: The Stretch Goal Paradox

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