Tapping Intelligence

Question asked on Quora today:  How can you immediately notice whether somebody is intelligent or not?

Reply from Gus Griffin:  A common misunderstanding about intelligence is that it is a general capability like health or physical strength. It is not. We are actually intelligent at some things and not at others.

I have been coaching high-performing individuals for over 30 years and I have never met anyone who was intelligent at everything they did. In fact, I have often been amazed at how stupid at some things otherwise highly-capable people can be.

So – intelligence is relative to aptitude. Intelligence is an indicator of high aptitude (talent). When a person appears intelligent to you, they are concentered on utilizing their strengths: their highest aptitudes. (‘Concentered’ is an old word which means bringing your powers to bear on the problem or situation.)

And when a person appears unintelligent or stupid to you it is because the situation they are in is not calling on their strengths but making them rely on weak areas instead. The people who appear most intelligent in life are the ones who have figured out how to put their best foot forward; who have arranged things so that they avoid situations where they are called upon to do what they aren’t good at and mainly stick with activities they are good at.

The more you concentrate on doing what you are good at, the more people will want you to keep on doing that, instead of wanting you to do what you are not good at. That’s the real secret to success in life – because you also learn fastest where your aptitude is high, and have the greatest difficulty learning and changing where your aptitude is low.

The easiest way to improve your personal performance is by continuing to develop your strengths: that is your high road to excellence.


These are important and practical things to know about utilizing intelligence, but they don’t fully answer your question of how to recognize it. For this, I refer you to Abraham Maslow, one of the most influential psychologists of the 20th Century. He labelled the most psychologically healthy human beings as self-actualising individuals.

Such people may not always score the highest on IQ tests, but definitely they are most intelligently going about living their life—which is, of course, much more important. Here is Maslow’s list of the traits of such people—based on decades of research by one of our greatest researchers into the human mind:

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Posted August 13, 2019 at 12:36 pm by Gus Griffin · Permalink
In: Misc