Maybe there really is such a thing as being too smart for your own good. Sometimes the smartest ones among us get lost in overthinking and overdoing and lose track of the basic truths that are helpful in leadership and life.

For those who easily forget some inconvenient truths, here are 12 simple reminders.

1. Never confuse education with intelligence.
Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and Frank Lloyd Wright were all college dropouts. You can have all the education in the world and do nothing with it--or you can teach yourself from scratch and, with passion and dedication, become massively successful. Use your intelligence to take you where you want to go, by whatever route is best for you.

2. Pain can be positive.
Pain is a necessary part of growth and learning; it can teach us many things about ourselves. Today's pain leads to tomorrow's strength, and every challenge you encounter carries with it the opportunity for growth.

3. You're the boss of your life.
Even if you work for someone else, even if you're at the bottom of the org chart, you are the CEO--and the CFO and COO--of your life. You are investing in yourself every day with your actions and the things you learn, and you are selling yourself every day with the face you show the world.

4. Failure is a stepping stone for success.
Many smart people are terrified of ever making a mistake, but never risking enough to fail is like slow poison. Failure teaches some of the most valuable lessons you'll ever learn, and having the courage to continue leads you to wisdom.

5. Low expectations are good protection.
If you set the bar low, you will never be disappointed. Learn to let go and accept rather than expect. Life may just surprise us.

6. Problems can start from within.
We all run into a difficult person now and then. But when you routinely have problems with your partner, colleagues, clients, or spouse, you may need to ask yourself what the real problem is. Maybe we have to look within.

7. High standards are worth keeping.
There's always somebody ready to tell you that cutting corners and fudging a little is the only way to get ahead. They're wrong, and someday that wrong thinking will catch up with them. Earn the right to hold others to high standards by meeting them yourself.

8. Potential counts for nothing until it's realized.
No one lacks potential, but many lack the will or the skill to convert it to achievement. The main reason people fail to reach their full potential? They're unwilling to take a risk.

9. Negativity poisons the soul.
Negativity is like a tsunami: It takes over quickly and destroys everything in its path. When you learn to stay positive, you shut off the drama that is negativity's lifeblood, and you open yourself up for amazing things to happen.

10. Success is not the key to happiness.
Instead of aiming to become successful, we should work to become a person of value--that is where the path to happiness lies.

11. If you wait until you are ready, you will be waiting for the rest of your life.
It's always tempting to wait: for the right time, for the right project, for the right opportunity, for everything to be perfect. If you want to do anything, plan, prepare--and then take the leap.

12. You owe something to the world, not the other way around.
Instead of asking ourselves what we can acquire from the world, we should be asking what we can give. When you do, it changes your perspective. It changes everything.

Be smart, but remember: Smart is good...but knowing the truth is best.

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Published on: Dec 7, 2015
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.