Why Even Smart People Fail

In real life , what really matters is not how smart you are but how far you’ve stretched your limits to make your life better and significant.

Do intelligent people eventually become achievers?

Robert Sternberg an American psychologist and professor whose works have contributed much on the subject of intelligence has this to say:

“….As I have studied IQ and analytical intelligence, I’ve seen people who have high IQs, they have test scores and degrees, but put them in a job or a relationship and they make a mess of it.”

Researches in this field concur Prof. Sternberg’s statement. They reveal that not all who have high IQ did well in life and that many achievers are not exceptionally intelligent. So, what makes the difference? Evidences point to one thing — the drive to achieve.

Achievement drive is one of the competencies of emotional Intelligence (EI). It is the capacity of a person to set for themselves high personal and professional standards of excellence. It drives a person to reach for lofty goals and to make significant accomplishments. One may be exceptionally intelligent but if they lack this competency they will just be limping their way through life, satisfied with achieving short-term goals without a vision to accomplish big dreams. Studies on people who are achievers further prove that achievements in life are not products of brilliant thinking so much as they are results of cultivating a right mind set through the avenue of the emotional intelligence. So, in this context, why do “smart” people fail? Let’s take a look at the following salient attitudes of people who are underachievers:

– They tend to avoid firm, fixed standards of performance, whether actively and overtly or passively and covertly.
– They work without regard to expectations and do not push themselves to do better.
– They often settle for the minimum to get by.
– They don’t take goals seriously.
– They usually choose tasks on the opposite extremes. The easy ones to avoid failures or the highly difficult ones to have a good excuse for their expected failure or to avoid embarrassment.
– They’d rather maintain the status quo than “rock the boat.”
– They do what’s required of them and no more.
– They can achieve goals that are set for them but do not get a work done according to their own standards of excellence.

Daniel Goleman, author of the best-selling book “Emotional Intelligence” said on EQ and progress: “If you’re abilities aren’t in hand, if you don’t have self-awareness, if you are not able to manage your distressing emotions, if you can’t have empathy and have effective relationships, then no matter how smart you ARE, YOU ARE NOT GOING TO GET VERY FAR.”

Achievers think and operate differently. Henry Murray, psychologist at Harvard University and proponent of “personology theory” used the term “Need for Achievement (N-Ach)” to refer to an individual’s drive to accomplish, to set high standards and to be in control. The following clearly differentiate people with this competence from those who lack it:

– They are results-oriented, with a high drive to meet their objectives and standards.
– They set challenging yet reachable goals.
– They take moderate, calculated risks.
– They strive to be more informed to reduce uncertainty and to find better ways to do the task.
– They take extra effort to perform better.

Studies have determined that what enables people to achieve higher goals has little to do with their innate intellect and talents. It has something to do with having the right mindset which is undermined by one’s emotional intelligence (EQ). And the good news is that EQ can be cultivated to adopt key characteristics of high achievers.

Have you resigned yourself to being a ‘failure’? For a moment, why not distance yourself from that mindset and then from a positive perspective, consider the following developmental tips as your first steps to being an achiever:

-Set goals and standards of excellence.
-Be self-aware. Get in touch with the emotions behind what you want to achieve and why: What do you gain by going the extra mile? What do you lose by not taking action or going for more?
-Establish moderate rewards for achieving your goals.
-Make your goals specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timed (SMART). Work with a GANTT chart or other means of measuring progress.
-Keep a record of your achievements. This will inspire you as you remember what you have accomplished.
-Take at least one step each day toward your goals.

You’re not ahead of life, life is ahead of you! There are still a lot of things to achieve in your life. They’re just waiting for you to reach them. Need extra help in this area? We can help you. Contact us today.