The intelligence factor: How much intelligence is necessary for Success?


"It has yet to be proven that intelligence has any survival value." – Arthur C. Clarke

Hardwork "I am not smart enough; I am not good enough; I am not intelligent enough to get to the top." How often  have we heard these phrases, or worse still, how may times have we said them ourselves? Chances are, we may not have said it out loud, but have probably 'thought about them' at some point in our lives.

Intelligence is defined in the dictionary as 'The capacity to acquire and apply knowledge'. Thoughts of not being intelligent enough to be successful on a given task are some of the single most paralyzing mental blocks any individual can experience in their adult life. Is it possible to win against yourself, to fly when you clip your own wings, to excel when you give yourself a mark of failure?

The truth is, we are all smart enough to achieve anything we set our minds to. Intelligence or the lack of it, is just another unconscious excuse we tend to make. A very common, very humane error we make is to underestimate our own brain power while overestimating that of others. Feeling intimidated by the task at hand or by the accomplishments of others easily leads us down the path of these self limiting thoughts.

Yes, you are capable of starting your own company; yes, you're smart enough to be 'teacher of the year'; yes, you have enough intelligence to speak up against discimination; yes, you have what it takes to build a worldwide network of like-minded individuals; yes, you deserve to be at the top. Here are some reasons why I believe 'intelligence' is not a necessary success ingredient: 

1. What matters is not how high your IQ is, but how you use what brainpower you do have. A person who goes on to become successful, you will notice believed from the beginning that he was going to find ways succeed. One's school grades, or the number of times we may have been written off as 'slow' should never be a deterrent. Don't focus on how smart you ought to sound, rather be determined to develop your skill and sharpen your mind for success. "Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will spend its whole life thinking its stupid." – Einstein

2. The thinking that guides your intelligence is more important than how much intelligence you have. Positive, progressive thinking that is centered around our interests, dreams and plans has the power to take us places. We excel in the things we are most interested in, spend the most time on and have passion for. Permit me to give you a practical example: Many years ago, I earned a bachelor's degree in Biochemistry.  I was very capable intellectually of proceeding into medical or pharmacy school and graduating in record time … if I had wanted to. The truth is, that was never what I was interested in. I am sure I would not have made a very happy, fulfilled doctor. Being an entrepreneur is what I love and I chose to focus my energy into; and that is the life I live today. This goes to show that interest is a much stronger force than intelligence because it channels our life energies towards a focused path, thus helping us excel.

3. Thought power is more important than brain power. The power to create success by contributing towards a meaningful venture far outweighs the brain power of an endless reservoir of knowledge that is of little or no use. Very intelligent folks are more than capable of reasoning themselves out of opportunities – good or bad. Take a business idea in Network Marketing for example to a genius. I can guarantee you that he will furnish you with a notepad full of highly analyzed reasons why it won't work, backed by statistics. The truth is, it does work. The most ordinary of us tend to go with instinct. "The ability to focus attention on important things is a defining characteristic of intelligence." – Robert J. Shiller.

4. The right attitude is always more important than your IQ level. Imagine that you are looking to fill an executive position in your company; a company you love, have worked hard to build. Two people sit in front of you. One has graduated from a highly acclaimed college with honors but is negative and seems to be not so excited about life or the opportunity. The other is adequately educated, has a great personality, likes and understands people and is excited at the prospect of working with you. Who would you choose?

5. Ability to find answers over ability to memorize facts. Do you use your mind to store facts, statistics and other data, or do you use it as a solution finding machine? If your mind is filled up with facts, it only makes sense that it will have no room to think up ideas. I read that Einstein, the great scientist was once asked "how many feet are in a mile" and his answer was, "Why should I fill my brain with facts I can find in two minutes in any standard reference book?" These days it is even faster to find such statistics on the internet. And so, it is better to be called ignorant because you don't recognize a quote or a verse, than to be a powerless walking encyclopedia. 

In conclusion, I would say sticking it out till the end is the antidote to 'I am not intelligent enough'. Anyone with guts is capable of making it to the finish line and so you do not have to be very intelligent to be successful. Millions of geniuses around the world, we find stuck in cubicles working jobs they hate just like everyone else. Look around, you will notice that most millionaires never earned a college degree. Don't let 'Intelligence' or 'the thought of the lack of it' be the barrier between you and your dreams. Street smart is the answer and that simply means finding ways to overcome challenges.  

Cheers to your success.


  1. in my point of view intelligence depends on genes & the environment.all of us possess genes for optimum intelligence but when we start growing, the surroundings, environment and even the people with whom we come in contact make a lot of difference.that is called learning we can grow to be an extremely intelligent if we are effective learners inspite of having optimum genes for intelligence

  2. Wow! Your writing only gets better. 🙂 I like point #3 – “geniuses” truly miss out on opportunities because they tend to critically analyse every detail.
    Point #5 made me laugh out loud – “Why should I fill my brain with facts I can find in two minutes in a standard reference book?”
    Above all, thanks for linking Zuzeeko’s Blog – OnTheRoadToSuccess.

  3. Hey Soniya, I totally agree with you. And whatever our ‘intelligence’ or IQ levels become, we all have it in us to fulfill our destinies. Great hearing from you, looking forward to more inputs 🙂

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