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The Limits of Intelligence

December 3, 2020

There’s a correlation of intelligence with success and happiness but up to a point. People with very high IQs often struggle in ways that prevent them from becoming wildly successful. In fact, we find that there are many leaders, entrepreneurs, and game-changers who didn’t necessarily have very high IQs.

What’s the relationship between intelligence and success? That’s a complicated question but if I had to posit a guess, I would have to say that it has to do with empathy.

Empathy is the ability to understand another person’s perspective, deep enough to the emotional level. It is empathy that allows us to understand the other. It is empathy that glues society together.

Intelligence is a measure of our ability to understand and manipulate abstract concepts. We’re talking about language, math, science, philosophy, etc. But you would think that someone else’s perspective is an abstract concept that would be better understood with higher intelligence.

When was the last time you felt understood? How did that other person get you there? How did it feel? When was the last time you made someone else feel the same way? Was it because someone was smarter than you? Or was it because they took the time to listen, made you feel understood?

All success is founded on teamwork. Sure, there are exceptions. But there’s a limit to what you can do on your own.

People with high IQs but with very little empathy will not be able to connect with others as much as someone else with an average IQ but a lot of empathy. The person with more meaningful connections in life is more likely to be presented with more opportunities, have access to more resources, and have more support for everyday struggles. How can you not succeed with such an advantage!?

So how do you gain more empathy? The full answer is worth discussing another day. For now, there are 2 main components.

First, you need to listen. This is harder than it sounds. I mean really listen. How do you know you’re listening? If you’re able to sit still for 10 minutes without interrupting someone else, and after 10 minutes, you’re able to summarize what the person says and the person responds, “That’s right!” you’ve done it correctly.

Second, you need to love. This is easier than it sounds. Religion does a very good job on showing us what love looks like. Probably worth a discussion for another day.

Check out my video on the relationship between Intelligence and Salvation:
Click here

Dr. Eric

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