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There are primarily three traits we admire in people:
physical beauty, physical prowess (such as an athlete, musician, or someone
with a specific skill set), and intelligence. Of the three, intelligence is
perhaps the most awe-inspiring and perhaps the easiest to fraudulently
emulate. I think I can count on one hand the number of true geniuses I've met
in my walk through life, but aside from this I have met some truly intelligent
people whom I greatly respect. Interestingly, not all possess a formal
education, yet they exhibit signs of intelligence I admire and rely on for
Some people believe a person's vocabulary is a
distinguishable characteristic of intelligence. It may be an indicator, but it
is certainly not proof of intelligence. I have met far too many people who
have a verbosity of bullshit cloaking other shortcomings in their personality.
They may be able to speak well, but so can a parrot if trained properly.
There are those who believe intelligence is distinguished
by a person's ability to absorb and recite facts. I have trouble with this
notion as well. To my way of thinking, the person has nothing more than a good
memory which any tape recorder or computer can duplicate.
To me, intelligence is the ability to apply logic towards
solving a problem. Knowing facts and possessing an articulate vocabulary is
nice, but knowing how to put it all together to solve a problem or achieve a
goal is the real measure of intelligence. From this perspective, I have met a
lot of people with basic street smarts who are far more intelligent than a lot
of college professors or savants I know. In other words, I have more respect
for a person who can think clearly for himself, than a person who can do
nothing more than parrot facts and figures.
Sometimes we confuse intelligence with experience. Under
this scenario, a person who has lived through many experiences, and learned
from them, can pass this knowledge on to others who may perceive the person as
brilliant. Probably the only thing "smart" here was that the person learned
from the experience.
IQ scores don't necessarily impress me either. I remember a
classmate in high school who allegedly had a high IQ score. I found it rather
amusing that he failed the written portion of his driver's test on more than
one occasion (I think he was looking for the meaning of life in a stop sign).
I've also found a lot of people like this who simply want to be paid because
they are smart, but don't know how to work productively. In other words, they
may know a lot, but have trouble applying it. Those who are perceived as
"witty" tend to fall into this category. Most are entertainers who have an
aversion to real work.
To me, the real distinguishing characteristic of an
intelligent person is someone who knows what they are doing, does it well, and
can be counted on to deliver solutions and solve problems over and over again
(reliability). I have also found they exhibit an insatiable curiosity about
the world around them, not just a single area. As the Japanese like to say,
such people think in terms of "360 degrees." In other words, they are always
looking at the bigger picture.
"Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence.
Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent.
Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not;
the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone
are omnipotent. The slogan 'Press On' has solved and always will solve the
problems of the human race."
- Calvin Coolidge
Keep the Faith!
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Copyright © 2010 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Tim Bryce is the Managing Director of
M. Bryce & Associates
(MBA) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the
management consulting field. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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Article Published/Sorted/Amended on Scopulus 2010-01-28 16:22:25 in Personal Articles