Challenging the Narrow View of Intelligence


Intelligence is a way of acting. if you act intelligently you are smart, regardless of your IQ – Brian Tracy

One of the life transforming perspective I have adopted is that intelligence is not limited to IQ or being book smart but generally acting in a smart way. It is a way of life not mere intellectual attainment.

It’s why the most educated men are not necessarily the most successful or wisest.

Since I have chosen to broaden my view of intelligence, my views include but not limited to the following definitions.

As I grow older, I will continue to add to or refine the list but let’s start with these:

  • Intelligence is the ability to process and make intelligent deduction from information both simple and complex.
  • Intelligence is to be a student not a crusader. Learn and gather insights but don’t impose your opinion on others.
  • Intelligence is the willingness to pursue education beyond the class room.
  • Intelligence is the willingness to act in ways that are in alignment with your core values even when it’s not convenient. 
  • Intelligence is the willingness to let go of relationships, institutions or situations that doesn’t promote the attainment of your highest and best self
  • Intelligence is the open-mindedness to realize that we don’t know it all and there is something to learn from everyone. In short, Intelligence is intellectual humility.
  • Intelligence is the ability to expand our focus on things/situations we can control and to patiently endure the things we can’t change/control without feeling overwhelmed/frustrated about them.
  • Intelligence is the willingness to appreciate difference even though uncomfortable and to focus on the one common ground you have with the other person instead of the 99 ways we differ.
  • Intelligence is self awareness – clarity on your strength and weaknesses – to deploy your strength effectively and to manage your weakness before it overshadows your strength.
  • Intelligence is the ability to focus on only one competition – yourself and to realize you are both your best friend and your own worst enemy, not your colleague, your boss or your country.
  • Intelligence is the realization that the things you own are not the substance of your life but the quality of your character and the maturity of your soul.
  • Intelligence is the willingness to pick up yourself from failure and to realize it is never a person but an event if you choose to see it that way and then to begin again more intelligently.
  • Intelligence is the realization that we will never attain true happiness until there is congruence in our lives – alignment between what we think, say and do.
  • Intelligence is the willingness to listen to criticism – where constructive to listen and act on it and where destructive to not let it paralyze our initiative
  • Intelligence is the ability to let not praise puff us up and to not let criticism demoralize us.
  • Intelligence is the courage to be alone rather than be in the wrong company.
  • Intelligence is the flexibility to change our opinion in the face of a superior argument without resenting the source.
  • Intelligence is the ability to keep a sense of humour even when it seems all gloom and doom, knowing that every adversity or failure carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit
  • Intelligence is the realization that it is wise to let our lights shine instead of diminishing ourselves and in doing so discover that we are giving others permission to do the same.
  • Intelligence is the realization that the easiest way to success is a dedication to mastery for its own sake not its perks.
  • Intelligence is to understand that passion is not mere giddy feeling. It is a product of discipline which births confidence and then passion. You can’t be truly passionate about something you are not very good at and being good at something involves effort and consistency.
  •  Intelligence is to prioritize touching people’s heart before asking for their hands.
  • Intelligence is to be clear about how vain and silly it is to want to be liked by everybody. You can’t be all things to all men. Find your crowd instead of wanting to adjust to everybody. Make peace with those who don’t accept you. It’s life.
  • Intelligence is to embrace responsibility for every outcome of your life.
  • Intelligence is to realize that you will never be happy as long as you keep settling for less than you are capable of becoming.
  • Intelligence is to focus more effort on becoming the right person than finding the right person, while not expecting to have your ideal partner dropped on your laps on a platter of gold.
  • Intelligence is patience, to hustle while you wait.
  • Intelligence is to understand that no amount of thinking, planning and motivation can replace action. Like a friend told me once, we learn what we are taught by doing.
  • Intelligence is to realize time spent monitoring people’s lives on social media is time away from your own grind that will make you someone worth paying attention to in the future. 
  • Intelligence values quality of work over hours of work. Using the phrase of Colin Powell, Intelligent people are not “busy bastards”.
  • Intelligence makes choices based on what is important in the long term rather than what looks good in the moment.
  • Intelligence is not to mistake an appearance of the hustle for the real hustle. When the hustle is real, there is no time to capture it on the gram, the results speak for you.

For me the greatest realization of all is that wisdom is a combination of intelligence and right living.

Please feel free to add your definition of intelligence in the comment section below.

Image Source: Pixabay



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