You Don't Have to be Smart to be Successful

I'm a voracious reader. Three books give those of us who never made straight A's in school a little thing called hope. I don't know about you, but if I got two A's, three B's and a C, my parents didn't applaud my A's, they cajoled me about the C. 

In this country and maybe the world, there's a cultural belief that high IQ means that you'll be successful. Not true says the data. IQ does predict how well you will do in school. It does not predict how well you will do in life. 

Daniel Goleman, in Emotional Intelligence, says that the research indicates that IQ only accounts for 4% of success. You read that correctly: 4%! 

Malcolm Gladwell, in Outliers, found much the same thing. For professional athletes, you need to be born in January through March so that you'll be selected and coached for your physical size and ability over kids like me born in December. 

Gladwell also found that the thing that separates the winners from the losers, like Geoff Colvin in Talent is Overrated, is practice. Gladwell says you need 10,000 hours of practice. Top music students practice more than others. Top athletes practice more than others. Lesson: You don't need to be smart, just more persistent in your practice. 

Colvin says: "the research tells us that intelligence as we usually think of it--a high IQ--is not a prerequisite to extraordinary achievement. 

Here's My Point
I hear lots of people say: "I can't because I'm not smart enough" or some similar phrase ("I'm not good at math, science, people, etc."). If you catch yourself, your coworkers, your spouse, your kids or anyone else saying this baloney, you've bought into the cultural hallucination: 

IQ = Success 

Not true. The research says that if you're willing to put in the time and effort to master an area of expertise that you love, if you're willing to learn and practice and improve, you'll become successful over time

Most people already have 10,000 hours of practice in some area of expertise. How do I know? People come to them for that expertise. When someone has put in the time to become excellent at something, they often belittle their ability. "Oh that silly thing? I'm not smart enough to make a living from that." Nonsense! Why don't you apply it? The world is waiting.

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