Whatever you do for a living, chances are great you have at least a little bit of an inferiority complex about brain surgeons and rocket scientists. 

Thanks to the popularity of disparaging idioms like "it isn't rocket science" and "he's not exactly a brain surgeon," we've all picked up the message that these professions are among the very top in terms of intelligence. (Theoretical physicists, put your hands down. We know you're smart too.) But is these fields' reputation for huge brains actually accurate? 

A team of British scientists with time on their hands recently compared scores on standard tests of cognitive performance from 73 neurosurgeons and 329 aerospace engineers with results from 18,000 members of the general public to find out. The results, ​​published in the festive edition of The BMJ and highlighted by The Guardian, are out, and I am happy to report that us average folks are really not all that different from brain surgeons and rocket scientists after all. 

The world's brainiest professionals didn't blow Joe and Jane Public out of the water when it came to raw intelligence, but the researchers did detect small differences between the average person and the average rocket scientist (or brain surgeon), differences which might just help the rest of us find our way to professions that make the most our own mental abilities

Shock! Rocket scientists are good at designing rockets

In short, the results showed neuroscientists did a little bit better on parts of the tests that measure speed of decision making. The rocket scientists, on the other hand, were generally a little better at mental manipulation, or rotating images around in your head. 

You probably don't need to lift your jaw off the floor after hearing that. Neurosurgery requires surgeons to make high-stakes decisions under intense time pressure, and it's probably helpful when designing rockets to be able to spin the designs around in your mind and view them from multiple angles. But are these profession-specific skills developed on the job or is that those with these innate abilities are drawn to these professions? The researchers aren't sure. 

"The difference in problem-solving speed exhibited by neurosurgeons might arise from the fast-paced nature of neurosurgery, which attracts those with a pre-existing flair for rapid processing, or it could be, albeit less likely, a product of training for rapid decision-making in time-critical situations," they commented. 

Whether choice of profession is the cause or result of specialized abilities remains an open question, but whichever way the arrow of causation is ultimately shown to point, the takeaway lesson from this fun study for the rest of us is likely the same. 

Fit matters more than all around IQ

Many of us obsess about whether we have the intelligence to succeed in a particular job (take it from me, who sees how many people click on any headline with "I.Q." in it). But what this study shows is that success in even the most elite professions has less to do with some global, non-specific intellectual potential and much more with matching opportunities to the specific strengths of your individual brain. 

That means when thinking about the right career path, you should probably spend less energy worrying about your IQ overall and more assessing what gifts you bring to the table. There are many different types of intelligence, and the right job for you is the one that leverages the specific kinds of intelligence in which you excel (or could excel with the right training). 

As Jeff Bezos, Reese Witherspoon, and other academic researchers have all already found out, success is generally far less about being some massive all-around genius and more about being brutally clear-eyed about your strengths and weaknesses. 

Or as Aswin Chari, one of the authors of the new study, puts it: "Everyone has a range of skills, some people are better at some things and other people are better at other things, and it is very difficult to be better in everything across the board." 

At the risk of reducing traffic to my own intelligence-related articles, I offer this simple takeaway: Stop fretting about your IQ on the internet. Find what you're good at, and run with it. That's what brain surgeons and rocket scientists do.