The Attributes Of Intelligent People

Teaching is genuinely a gratifying profession. Ask any teacher who teaches for the love of it. For years, I have taught truly gifted students as also those now categorised as development students… the ones who most has sort of give up on, the ones often told they need more remedial classes before they’re even allowed to face the challenges of true academia.

My rich experience has taught me to recognise the real difference between intelligence and ignorance. Not all of it is based on simple IQ or cognitive ability. Intelligence has a lot to do with one’s mindset. Children with learning disabilities often bloom into the smartest individuals in the room when left to pursue their passions.

Intelligence is built up. The more you live, the more you learn. Intelligence can be developed over time. Truly intelligent people know this and regardless of where they come from, or what they know, they respect this. There’s a number of things the truly intelligent acknowledge and learn over time…

They Learn By Imitation: We all benefit from a little guidance. We are guided through life across all stages – be it learning to cycle, play football, a new language or a new skill. Intelligent people observe and learn from the pros. They reverse engineer the process of success by studying what works, and then try that.

They Try To Figure Things Out On Their Own: Intelligent folk love to experiment and problem-solve. They develop mental muscles by doing this repeatedly and consistently. Their first move is not to ask for help or step-by-step instructions. They don’t mind fumbling around and struggling a little at first. They aim for self-sufficiency and independence more than the rest. They manage things themselves mostly.

Always Seeking Knowledge: The truly intelligent have immense curiosity – they focus on ‘what they want to know, than what they already know’. They find new things to learn and ways to learn them. Education, for them, is a lifelong quest. They don’t brag about things they know and don’t need to impress others. They learn new ways to apply their knowledge at every opportunity they get.

Looking For Connections: They look for commonalities between dissimilar things and read across fields and disciplines, connecting the dots. An intelligent person finds patterns in ordinary stuff and scales them up. They observe the small tiny parts of life that most of us overlook. They nurture a healthy curiousity and always want to know how and why things work, function and just plain exist. 

They Gravitate Towards Puzzles And Paradoxes: An intelligent person will set you on a course of questioning and seeking – things that defy explanation intrigue them. They love wrapping their minds around things that need unravelling. Understanding the cause and effect of things gives them pleasure.

Adaptation To Cognitive Dissonance: The world is in a state of constant contradictions. Intelligent people understand this use it to their benefit. They can hold on to two conflicting ideas simultaneously, while being able to admire each one on their its own strengths and merits.

Intelligence Cannot Be Rushed: Seeking knowledge is a slow process. Intelligent people can ponder patiently while the rest are in a frenzy. Don’t mistake their inaction for laziness or ineptitude – they’re applying themselves to a problem before doing or committing to anything. And when they do say or do something, it’s usually a masterstroke of brilliance which changes things wonderfully.

They Make Others Smarter: Spending time with intelligent people rubs off on you – like the subconscious ability to pick up languages when surrounded by natives. Their uncanny ability to explain things that are complex in a simple way helps people grasp what they’re saying. Intelligence rubs on you making you smarter, quicker and a lot keener. 

Intelligent People Are Empathetic: Intelligence also entails caring – about the world around you and how you fit into it. Intelligence isn’t just about objectivity; it’s about taking everyone’s views and feelings into account before making a decision or forming an impression. Instead of jumping into arguments and debates, they make space for others’ voices too. They know that you get smart by listening, learning and observing.

So, to develop true intelligence is to work on yourself. The smartest people in any room are not the ones who make a big deal of it or make the most noise. They are the ones who don’t care much about whether they are perceived as smart by others. Intelligence is not something you can buy or show off – it’s how you think and how you do things. 

Veera Shroff Sanjana
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