Alright. the question is how smart are you, and does it even matter? Does IQ matter? We live in a world dominated by tests, absolute measure or attempts at absolutely taking a measurement of who you are – how smart you are.
Does it matter? Do you need IQ to be rich, all right? These are the type of questions that I'm sure at some point have rolled through your brain. You grew up. You're put in classrooms; You're put with other kids – It was competitive. You got a report card; You needed grades to get into university, so there is a lot of belief around IQ.
Today's book of the day is "Successful Intelligence"by a very famous guy, [Robert Sternberg].(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Sternberg) Really, he goes into this from a perspective that I hadn't heard before, and you may not have heard before. He basically says, if you look at the world that we're in now for various reasons, you could call it a conspiracy theory. You could say it's just plain logical to do it this way, but we live in a world dominated by tests.
The way you see yourself right now, whether it comes to business or social life, who you think you deserve to marry, the amount of money you think you deserve to make, I guarantee you at some point, you've tried to gauge yourself socially in the hierarchy. Back home on the farm, I remember a chicken can tell the difference between about 150 other chickens. When we used to raise chickens, you go in there and they basically all look the same, but chickens have developed, and you've heard the word, Pecking order. They can tell who's the top chicken – all the way down, and lots of animals can do that. Herd animals can do this. Sheep, cows, all of these get it. What looks the same to us is completely hierarchical to that animal, to that species, and for us and for you as a human, I guarantee you, even people that say they don't do this, you can't get away from it. You do, do it. You gauge yourself in a hierarchy.
Whether that's in school, whether that's where you work now for your career, the people you're dating romantically, the friends you have, generally, the first thing to understand is, for the most part, similar levels attract each other. That's both romantically and socially. There's a lot of science to this. I don't want to go deeply into that, but I always recommend people go back to Dr. David Buss's book on evolutionary psychology, the textbook. Dr. David Buss is I think in the top five most important books that you can ever read in your life. You'll see he has a chapter on self-esteem and what its purpose is. Some people in the modern world, you hear, I'm sure you heard people say you should love yourself for who you are. I'm not going to argue. I'm not going to agree or disagree with that.
I'm going to say it's probably naïve. It's probably not realistic because there's two parts of your brain. We'd like to think that we're one unified person, right, but like Freud says, "The mind is like an iceberg." 90% of it is below the water, so you really have like an iceberg, two parts. You have the conscious brain, which is above the water and the subconscious below.
Lots of people are writing about this now, but as it pertains to you and intelligence, you may go, "Well, intelligence isn't important to me," so your conscious brain might be like, "Don't worry about it. Just love yourself for who you are," but your subconscious will be like those chickens, those sheep, those cows where you're constantly assessing who you are. The reason I'm setting this up like this is because if you have any misconceptions about IQ, smarts, brain power and how you relate and how you fit in, it's a dangerous thing to get wrong.
One of the most important things that this book goes into, that Sternberg goes into is this idea that one, we have this idea that IQ is pretty static, right? IQ tests, We have this idea: Okay, you get a high IQ. Therefore, you're destined for greatness; Oh, you get a low IQ, boom – you're destined to being average and mediocre. What he says is that the science is not lining up with that at all. He talks about how Charles Darwin's cousin, Sir Francis Galton, was the first person to come up with this type of test on intelligence and how he got it wrong. He used something. He said that intelligent people had high levels of energy and high levels of sensitivity. That was initial; we're talking 1800s –he conceptions of your intelligence.
They would have sat you down. They used to do tests with noises; make you listen to noises. They perceived that sensitivity, or their conjecture was that your sensitivity levels and the level of energy you had were directly correlated to your intelligence, but some smart people started saying, "That's not possible to be true because think about Helen Keller." Helen Keller was blind and deaf yet she had tremendous levels of intelligence. That way of understanding intelligence has faded away, and different tests came. One of the big ones was a guy named Alfred Binet. If you've ever taken the IQ test, there's something called Stanford-Binet. He came up with these three ways of measuring your intelligence, right?
Direction, which is knowing what has to be done; your ability to walk into a situation and assess it properly like there's a car crash, and you are the person that goes, "Okay. We need to get that person immediately to the hospital. We need to cut that person's seatbelt out." I'm here to take control. That was one measure that Binet said.
The second was adaption. That's customizing, right? So having the ability to not be set, and not say, "Okay. Well, no matter what happens, I'm the doorman. I always open the door when somebody walks up to the door, right?” Doorman opens door anytime when someone comes within five feet. You're going to get fired, obviously, because they want you to have adaption. The ability to go, "Okay. This person looks suspicious. This person looks like they don't belong here. Maybe they're going to steal. Maybe they're here at off hours doing something sketchy." You keep the door closed and okay. You look at this person. "I know they're staying here at the hotel." We let them in. That's your ability.
Then, criticism, which is an interesting measure because your ability to self-critique, you see, Binet's hypothesis was that your intelligence is directly related to your ability to look at your ideas and go, "Hey, you're probably wrong." In light of new evidence, self-assess and go adapt, adapt, adapt. I'll tell you, it's interesting. Most people can't do that, or most people don't do that very well. Interesting, Binet came up with this new understanding of intelligence. Now, there's a lot of ways I can go with this, but I want to read to you what he says that I think is more important. Binet, by the way, is much more ... Freud's cousin has somewhat been discredited, but Binet is pretty widely in use. In fact, a lot of the tests that you've taken in life have come from that.
Now, this is the takeaway for you to understand. Research has shown right now, this is a direct quote, "That IQ is only weakly able to predict later outcomes in your life." If that's true, if research is now showing that IQ doesn't predict, that leaves you in an interesting place because then, the whole question is, "Is it even valid to care about IQ?" Well, this guy actually talks about how he did so poorly in school because, for example, some people are very sensitive to the test-taking environment, so it skews it. They're not good at taking tests, but they're still very intelligent. I want you to know that even if you have not done well, traditionally, I want you to understand a handful of principles that this book says, all right?
He says you and I need to use a new measure of intelligence he calls successful intelligence, which of course, if you follow any of the stuff I do, it's all about the good life – how to be successful. He says, "Successfully intelligent people defy negative expectations even when these expectations arise from low scores on IQ. They don't let other people's assessments stop them." They talked about it in that book, Po Bronson's book, Top Dog, you must have ability to be competitive. One thing that successful people do is when they're told that their IQ is low or that they're not conventionally intelligent, they use that to spur them forward. You see that at almost every level. You see that in sports.
Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team. He was never as good at a young age. When they were young, his brother was better at basketball. His mom and dad didn't see the potential. He used every one of those negative outcomes or negative evaluations to drive forward his outcome. That's something you have to do.
I will tell you, no matter how intelligent you may be conventionally or unconventionally, you will run into nay-sayers. You will run into obstacles, both from other people and from your competition that are going to try to drive you down. He says, and I've seen that, and if you do the math and you do the studies, successful people consistently were those people told they're not going to pull it off. Then, they pull it off. They get pleasures. They even get pleasure in pulling it off. There's a tremendous power there. He says, "Successfully intelligent people," in his research, "are self-efficacious. They have a can-do attitude. They realize that the limits to what they can accomplish are often not what they tell themselves they cannot do. Rather, they are what they tell themselves they can't do."
There's a tremendous ... I mean there's a balance here. I think sometimes, people take it overboard. No matter how much I tell myself I could jump over a skyscraper, I can't do it. There are limits to human ability, but certainly, if you step outside of the bounds of the rules, "I could jump over a skyscraper. I could get in a helicopter and fly over it." Oftentimes, even though you will find limitations on what you are trying to do. Let's say you're somebody just not entrepreneurial enough in the classic sense to pull off taking a business from scratch and growing it to a multimillion-dollar business – becoming a millionaire, let's say. If you use this helicopter analogy, what if you partnered with somebody? If you look at Charlie Munger, Warren Buffett is more famous, but Charlie Munger attached himself as a business partner and was able to become a billionaire. Buffett might be worth 60 billion, but Charlie Munger is worth one or two billion, which is not too shabby.
This is the other thing I find fascinating. His research says, "Successfully intelligent people actively seek out role models. Throughout their lives, they may have several such models, and their own success represents a unification of the best attributes at the various models. In the other words, they do not slavishly follow any one model but rather form their own distinctive identity. They also observe people who fail and know why they fail, and then make sure they do things differently."
Einstein had a mentor that he met for dinner every Thursday. Oprah Winfrey had two mentors she says were critical in making her who she became. Denzel Washington had a mentor. Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, you go down the list. The Dalai Lama, Mahatma Gandhi, Mother Teresa, so the humility.
Everybody wants the good life, but not everybody gets the good life because most people aren't humble enough to do what he says successfully intelligent people want. You know, what I want you to take away from this is at the end, you go from being a not-on-paper intelligent or even very on-paper intelligent, okay?
I know a tremendous amount of people that have high IQ where I would not want to have their life; they are not successful in the measure that we've talked about. The good life: health, wealth, love and happiness, so the humility, sometimes being too on-paper intelligent will preclude you from going out and hinder you from going out and seeking role models. If you can go out, accumulate or connect with several mentors...learn from all of them, certainly, you unify them. That's something you have to do.
I think that at the end of the day, it's a little bit like the Serenity Prayer: "God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can and wisdom to know the difference." People in school and no matter what age you are, start evaluating yourself this way. Not on paper but whether you have high levels, high dosages, of successful intelligence, which necessarily means you're like that Serenity Prayer.
Remember, mentors, you won't always be able to get all of them in person. Some of them will be dead like Munger says, "Make friends with the eminent dead," like Seneca says In The Shortness of Life, he talks about how you can make the great people of all time of history, both living and dead – they're always available to you. There's books here; Now you have YouTube videos. These people are always available to you throughout time as long as we have printing presses or Kindles or whatever it is that you use to get this knowledge.
A lot of people, we find solace by staying in a helpless state, by just going, "See? I wasn't born with much IQ. See, see," but by this new measure, now, the onus is on us. It's on you, right? It's a changeable factor. He says here, just to repeat, "They define negative expectations." You have to defy what people thought about you. You can do that by simply being competitive like the book Top Dog, Po Bronson talks about. That works better, by the way, if you're an introvert. If you take the Myers–Briggs test, if you're like an INFP or INFJ, this is the way, but no matter how you see it, I want you to go deeply into your brain. Try to rip some old bad ideas out. Warren Buffett says every year, you should throw out one of your best ideas. Well, take and start with those best ideas you've had about, "best," I say, about your intelligence. Defy expectations.
The takeaway I want you to think about is right now, just answer two questions for me.
Number one: What is a self-defeating attitude that you had towards your IQ, towards your intelligence?
Number two: What is a native expectation people have put on you that you want to defy?
For some of you, it's financial. For some of you, it's with your body. For some of you, it's just your overall ability to be smart socially when you're out. You might have gotten that negative overtly. Someone might have said you're stupid, or somebody might have just sarcastically made a remark, but like the book, Inheritance, by Dr. Sharon Moalem talks about that I like so much. He says, "Genes are altered by traumas when you're young," so you may have had some of these where the whole structure of how your body relates to stress, he says, it can be elevated by these traumas.
One thing I like, cognitive therapy, I, of course, am not a psychologist. I'm not a psychoanalyst but one of the things in Happiness Hypothesis, Jonathan Haidt talks about is that as you just bring up thoughts you've had and think them through, that, in and of itself, is often the therapy that fixes the problem. What is a negative expectation? How are you going to defy it? That's been the book of the day.