Subtle Signs of High Intelligence You Should Look For in Yourself

6 min read

Education & Career Trends: November 4, 2022

Curated by the Knowledge Team of  ICS Career GPS

Being able to adjust and adapt according to the room is a sign of high intelligence.

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You want to be intelligent. And you take several actions in that direction. You read books. You watch TED talks. You spend more time with intelligent people around you. But are your efforts paying off?

Intelligence can be defined as the ability to solve complex problems or make decisions with outcomes benefiting the actor, and has evolved in lifeforms to adapt to diverse environments for their survival and reproduction.

Here are some signs of high intelligence you should look out for:

1: You are quick on your feet.

One of my seniors called me when I was working.

I (the author) didn’t pick up, because I knew that he would have some work for me to do. He called again. And I still didn’t pick up. I thought I would return his call after a few hours.

I later found out that he was with my roommate when he made the call. And when I did not pick up the call, he asked him to call me — thinking I was purposefully dodging his call.

But my roommate had my back. So he just pretended to make the call, stuck his phone to his ear, and after a while said, “He isn’t picking up.” When in fact, he never made the call.

He was quick on his feet. And that is a sure sign of intelligence.

2: You have surpassed functional fixedness.

My friend needed a door closer to fit on his door. But he could not afford one. So he went the creative way. He took a filled water bottle and tied it to a meter-long rope. He then tied the rope to the ceiling of the doorway and put the rope over the door on the other side.

So whenever someone opened the door, the door closed by itself as due to the positioning of the rope, the gravity of the filled water bottle acted in the direction to close the door.

This is the opposite of functional fixedness. Functional fixedness is the psychological bias that restricts you to use a thing only in the way it is meant to be. For instance, I would use a water bottle only to drink water.

But he realised that a filled bottle has gravity as well — and he could use that gravity to create a makeshift door closer!

If you’ve done something like this too, it’s a sign of high intelligence.

3: You think in unexpected ways.

In one talk show, Stephen Colbert asked Keanu Reeves, “What happens after we die, Keanu Reeves?”

Now, this question could have two common expected answers — the religious kind and the atheist kind.

  • Religious: You go to heaven or hell.
  • Atheist: You just die. Nothing happens.

But Keanu Reeves chose neither of these. He paused for a while and said, “I know that the ones who love us will miss us.

His answer was not unobvious, but it was unexpected. And that made all the difference.

4: You don’t give unsolicited advice.

I went to some of my seniors to ask for advice on studying better to top our post-med school entrance exam for residency. And I specifically went to seniors who I know for a fact are not that great at studying.

I was not going to listen to them. I just wanted to know what they’d say.

And each one of them started giving me advice. And they went on and on. But not once did anyone say, “You know what, I’m not that great at studying. I’m not the right person you should seek advice from.

And I think that is a sign of lack of intelligence — when you cannot even realise and accept that you’re not good at something.

But if you can accept it — and you don’t give advice on things you are not great at — that is a sign of high self-awareness and high intelligence.

5: You seek unconventional methods.

Here is a simple rule in life: If you do things the same way as everyone else, you are going to get the same result as everyone else.

For instance, the common method for studying is post-testing. This is when you solve questions after studying. However, after reading several books on better learning, I came across a concept called Pretesting.

In Pretesting, you solve questions before even studying the topic. It seems funny, but it is actually wonderful because it tells you the kind of questions asked in the exam. And then when you actually sit down to study, your cognitive attention is reallocated according to the importance of a given topic.

A sure sign of intelligence is asking yourself, “Is there a better way to do it than how the majority does it?” When you do that, you find unconventional methods that lead to better and faster results.

6: You observe and deduce, and not just look.

Sherlock: You see, but you do not observe. The distinction is clear. For example, you have frequently seen the steps which lead up from the hall to this room?

Dr. Watson: Frequently.

Sherlock: How often?

Dr. Watson: Well, some hundreds of times.

Sherlock: Then how many are there?

Dr. Watson: How many?! I don’t know.

Sherlock: Quite so. You have not observed. And yet you have seen. That is just my point. Now, I know that there are seventeen steps because I have both seen and observed.

And that’s just it. Most people just look at the world. But some people truly observe it mindfully. And make deductions.

7: You can keep up and adapt to any social environment.

I have a friend who is able to make friends everywhere. He connects with people wherever he goes — no matter how unique the social situation might be.

I thought that this was a sign of social intelligence specifically. But it is not. It is a sign of intelligence overall. Here are two reasons why:

  • To connect with different people, you need to have a knowledge of a wide variety of subjects. That’s what allows you to find common ground with so many people.
  • And even when you have knowledge of a variety of subjects, you have to be able to adapt according to the room.

Most people often feel out of place. But my friend never feels out of place — no matter what kind of room he finds himself in. This is because being able to adjust and adapt according to the room is a sign of high intelligence.

Have you checked out yesterday’s blog yet?

The Real Reason You Have Impostor Syndrome

(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in the article mentioned above are those of the author(s). They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of ICS Career GPS or its staff.)

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