Going through school, we're told that good grades and stellar test scores are important. Those at the top of the class are thought to be the smartest, the ones most primed for success in the real world. That thinking, however, is flawed. Although intelligence is often a factor in success, it's not necessarily the most important factor.

If you want to succeed in today's world, you've got to have more going for you than just a high IQ score. Here are four surprising things that are often more important:

1. Emotional intelligence

According to Psychology Today, emotional intelligence includes "emotional awareness; the ability to harness emotions and apply them to tasks like thinking and problem solving; and the ability to manage emotions."

The ability to understand and be aware of what's going on with the people around you is something that will serve you well in your career, particularly when it comes to motivating your employees and inspiring your coworkers to achieve more.

It's time to stop stressing about being the smartest person in the room and work on developing your understanding and awareness of the other people in the room. That's what makes the best leaders, innovators, and thinkers.

2. The ability to see differences as opportunities

Having a difference of opinion or belief isn't the end of the world. Although it can be the source of tension in a working relationship, it doesn't have to be. Learn how to see differences as opportunities rather than obstacles. This will position you as someone who is a leader of the future.

3. Knowing when to say "no"

People with high IQs aren't immune to burning out, just like they're not guaranteed to find jobs that fulfill them. If you want to have a happy, healthy, and fulfilling career, you're going to have to learn how to say the most important word in your vocabulary: "no."

By saying "no" and turning down work that either doesn't suit you or isn't supposed to be on your plate in the first place, you'll be positioning yourself for success. You'll also spend less time stressing out, worrying about the future, and losing sleep over the state of your life. Bonus: It'll also help you gain respect at work.

4. Asking for what you want

Once you know what you don't want to do (and, as I pointed out above, know when to say you're not doing that), it's time to focus on asking for what you want.

When you can articulate what makes you happy, what challenges you (in a good way), and what sets you apart from other people, you'll be able to take ownership of your job and career. Once you start putting yourself in the way of those things, you'll find that you're happier, more successful, and have a better sense of balance in other areas of your life.

These are just a few of the many things that are more important than a high IQ score. The most important thing you can do is identify your strengths and focus on those. Give more power to them than your perceived shortcomings. You'll find you're more capable than you could've imagined.

Published on: Jul 10, 2017