Have you ever heard that us human beings only use 10% of our brains? Well that statement is actually untrue…it’s an urban myth, and the very existence of the myth points to out our collective mental laziness. Until a few weeks ago I actually believed the statement was true which might tell you something (yes I have a degree in psychology). Ok, so now that we know that us humans have the capacity to use much more of our brains then most people believe, why don’t we?
Great question, however maybe I should be speaking for myself when pointing to underutilization of the brain since this is a confession. So…
I confess…I’m not the smartest.
I am consciously aware that I often shy away from entering great depths of critical thinking since it requires an excruciating amount of energy, when in a discussion with a ridiculously smart person, I often find myself a point or two behind, and you don’t even want to hear about my SAT scores (down with standardized tests!!).
Even after acknowledging the limits of my mental abilities, I will tell you that it does not limit me in my all-around performance. There are methods and principles that can help people maximize their performance without being cognitively gifted. Just like the 5’10 former star quarterback Doug Flutie did (average height for a QB is the NFL is 6’3), we can create leverage to make our shortcomings advantages.
Here are a few ways I have overcome an intelligence deficient:
I have found awareness to be far more important that intelligence in almost all circumstances. Awareness to me is the balance between head and heart. It means growing yourself beyond the knowledge you obtain, and cultivating a strong spiritual core. It requires one to live with a healthy dose of skepticism while maintaining love and empathy.
The benefits of being an “aware” human being are infinite. The primary benefit however is that aware people live a higher quality of life than others. They have a better understanding of self and therefore are more happy and effective. They have a better ability to connect authentically with people and situations.
Grow your awareness by slowing down, meditating, testing assumptions you have about life, and by spending time with incredible individuals.
Aware people are magnetic, they attract the people and situations to produce the best results.
Heuristics and Hacks
You don’t have to be exceptionally smart to create leverage, you simply have to be clever (or follow the practices of someone clever). Creating systematic shortcuts when it comes to personal development, skill learning or work can help you maximize results while positioning yourself for sustainable input.
Personally, I use simple hacks to help myself make more quality decisions faster, and keep myself accountable. For example, I have developed a list of core values that govern my thoughts (I wish all of them), actions, and long term goals. Qualifying opportunities is turnkey when you have developed a strong set of governing values. Anything that does not fall in-line with my values either gets dismissed or is not prioritized.
Another great practice is to create routine in areas you typically would not structure. For example, when it came to diet, I generally would get hungry, acknowledge my hunger, think about what type of food I feel like and what’s convenient at the moment, and after some intrapersonal deliberation I would go to a restaurant to eat (9 times out of 10 Mexican food). Now, thanks to my wonderful girlfriend, it’s a much different story. Our meals are prepared at the beginning of week, with a daily schedule posted. This has led to: less mental strain allowing me to save decision making for more important issues, less time waited, and most importantly, an extremely healthy diet.
For more clever and practical methods for developing a personal operating system, take a look at this Tim Ferriss interview where he discusses some interesting hacks for producing results.
Humble Leadership (soft skills)
I have a firm belief that leadership is the foundation that your effectiveness depends on. Your ability to hold yourself accountable to your own results while empowering others to do the same lays the ground work for being effective.
The great thing about leadership is that it’s not reserved for the brilliant; anybody can be a leader at any given moment. Once again, it starts with developing a set of core values and having your actions align with those values. This is integrity, not just doing what you say, but also doing what you believe in. Leaders need to have the highest level of integrity.
Why does leadership make a person effective, and often more effective than one dimensional intellectuals? Because good leaders move people. They lead with passion and intent which drives people to do the same. Intelligence often lives in a vacuum while leadership is scalable.
From the very beginning of our lives, we are conditional to believe that intelligence is the end all be all. That belief is as shallow as intelligence often is. Human beings, consume a level depth that no other living being that we know of do. To be the best people we can be, we must dive as deep into ourselves as possible and make all the “goodness” rise to the top.
Never adopt the fallacious notion that you are not good enough, as that could not be further than the truth.
As Einstein once stated: “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing it is stupid.”