Why is it that the smartest person you know and the most successful person you know are not always the same person? Given the emphasis placed on IQ by society today one would assume that the smartest people in society would naturally be the most successful or the most powerful, but this is not always the case.

Albert Einstein had an IQ of 160. John F. Kennedy was 119, while Ronald Reagan boasted an IQ around 105. Hollywood celebrity James Woods has an IQ of 180. Howard Stern, 99. All incredibly successful people, with IQ scores ranging from modestly intelligent to super genius.

How do people of normal or less than normal intelligence manage to achieve so much, and in many cases beat out much smarter individuals? There are a number of factors that contribute to this outcome but the most important is confidence.

In the Classroom, Confidence Is King

In a study conducted at Goldsmiths University in London, psychologist Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic led a team of researchers in discovering that children with high intellectual confidence tended to receive the best marks in school, regardless of the differences in their individual intelligence or environmental circumstances.

These findings demonstrate a direct correlation between the confidence one has in oneself and the ability to perform at a high level, and, most importantly, that this ability to perform at a high level exists independent of one's intelligence or environment. That's huge. It means that believing in oneself is as important (or possibly more) as intelligence in terms of high-level performance.

"There has been a very, very big lobby within educational psychology against the notion of IQ," notes Chamorro-Premuzic. "And part of this lobby has been based on the idea that self-perceptions matter more than actual ability."

Everyone has those brilliant friends who never did anything with their lives, who know the answer to every question you ask, can solve any riddle or puzzle you put in front of them, yet can't hold down a job. Conversely, there are those other friends who don't have the answer to anything yet seem to succeed in everything they do, no matter how ill prepared they are to do it. It's not luck, it's not coincidence. The secret ingredient is confidence.

Confidence Enables Intelligence to Work

There is more than one kind of intelligence, and the importance of the different types is starting to come into focus among the scientific community. Aside from an IQ (Intelligence Quotient), you have many other types of intelligence, such as an EQ (Emotional Quotient), a MQ (Moral Quotient), and a BQ (Body Quotient), that all play a part in your ability to function as a whole.

Each quotient measures an individual's ability to process certain kinds of information and ultimately act on it. To assume that in a given workday the only skill set a person will have tested is their ability to solve Rubik's cubes or properly navigate word association puzzles is naive. The ability to read body language, to project and detect empathy or disappointment, and to know the difference between right and wrong are all vitally important to a person's success.

Problems and obstacles are part your everyday life as a working person. Even more so if you're the one in charge. Most of the time, there will be more than one answer to the challenge in front of you, and you will have to evaluate the pros and cons of each potential solution.

Is the fastest, most efficient way always the best way? Is the most profitable solution the right one if it damages relationships?

In work and life, you will have to make choices like this all the time, and the strictly rational, intelligence-based solution will not always be the right one. Often, you'll have to listen to your gut or allow your conscience to guide you, which may produce vastly different results than if you had gone the route of hard rationality. Having confidence in yourself and your instincts is crucial in growing as a person and a professional. Confidence is strength, and it will allow you to make the tough or unpopular call when necessary.

Confidence Is Not Arrogance

There is a big difference between someone who believes in herself and someone who is arrogant. Arrogance is a strongly held belief that you've already got everything you need. Real confidence is knowing your strengths and believing in your abilities, but also acknowledging your weaknesses. Confidence is an eagerness to learn and accept help when you need it because you know that it will only make you stronger. As an employer, this is what I look for in an employee.

People who work hard and are determined to solve problems, who are not afraid to ask for help, and who want to constantly improve are the kind of individuals who can write their own ticket. They will never have trouble holding a job or finding new opportunities. Employers are constantly searching for this type of individual and when we find them, we snatch them up as quickly as possible and do whatever we can to keep them.

Confidence is believing in yourself. Always having the right answer isn't as important as committing to finishing something. Knowing how to do everything isn't as valuable as a willingness to learn and a belief that you can. Confidence is a big part of why people of modest intelligence can achieve just as much as brilliant people. A ridiculously high IQ might help you visualize complex math problems in 11 dimensions, but it's not an indicator that you're going to buckle down and make things happen when the going gets tough.

People's ability to be successful is more reliant on their work ethic and their belief in themselves than their intelligence. People who believe that they can achieve a result, regardless of how difficult it will be, because they understand the value of hard work and commitment are virtually unstoppable.

These are the types of people who succeed at everything they do, and you shouldn't be surprised when you eventually see them occupying the big chair.

Published on: Apr 30, 2016