Intelligence

10 Behaviors of Smart People

10 Behaviors of Smart People
Image credit: Philippe Halsman | WikiCommons | Enchanced by Entrepreneur
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Author of Real Leaders Don't Follow
5 min read
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“Stupid is as stupid does.” The great irony of Forrest Gump was how insightful his simplistic sayings really were. Sort of the opposite of Peter Seller’s character in the classic movie, Being There. Everyone thought Chance the Gardener was brilliant but he really was a dolt, albeit (spoiler alert) a dolt who could walk on water.

In case you don’t know, Gump’s line means you are what you do. In other words, it doesn’t matter how intelligent you think you are or are supposed to be, if you consistently do dumb things, you’re still dumb.

I’m sure this offends the politically correct crowd. Want to know what I say to that? Stupid is as stupid does. If you can’t discuss something as fundamental as human intelligence for fear of offending people, I don’t care how smart you think you are, you’re just dumbing yourself down.

Smarts are ridiculously important and I’ll tell you why. Smart people make smart decisions and that’s the most important factor in how things turn out for you.

One of the smartest choices you’ll ever make is to seek out smart people in your work relationships. Just to be clear, I don’t mean those who think they’re smart but do dumb things. I mean the real deal. Since we don’t have smart meters built into our foreheads, here’s how to tell if someone’s smart, starting with the obvious:

 

10 Behaviors of Smart People

They make smart decisions.

They make smart decisions.

Smart people know their actions have consequences. They also know that they have to earn business results one decision at a time. In other words, a few smart calls won’t make you omnipotent. Consistently making good decisions takes discipline and focus.

Related: Think You're Special? You Just Might Be.

10 Behaviors of Smart People

They learn from their mistakes

They learn from their mistakes

From our first steps to our last, we learn everything in life by trial and error. We all make mistakes because that’s how we learn. Smart people learn from theirs. After all, if you don’t face reality and judge yourself honestly, you’ll never do better next time. 

10 Behaviors of Smart People

They don’t have all the answers

They don’t have all the answers

There’s an old saying, “Those of you who think you know everything are annoying to those of us who do.” It’s a funny line but if you say it in earnest, that’s pretty annoying. Smart people don’t need to constantly reinforce the fact by acting like know-it-alls. They’re smart enough to know how much they don’t know.

10 Behaviors of Smart People

They surround themselves with smart people

They surround themselves with smart people

No man is an island. Individuals may be smart but small teams do the best work. Steve Jobs may have been a control freak, but he made sure the eight or nine people on his leadership team were the most talented he could find and taught them to do the same with their teams. That’s smart.

10 Behaviors of Smart People

They are resourceful

They are resourceful

Since human intelligence is an evolutionary advantage -- we didn’t evolve an enormous neocortex for no reason – intelligent people are generally more adaptable and creative in the way they make use of their surroundings to achieve results. 

Related: How Adversity Leads to Success

10 Behaviors of Smart People

They can reason

They can reason

I will never get this as long as I live: Even when presented with irrefutable evidence that they’re wrong, many people will consistently hold their ground as if their life depended on it. Without critical thinking, logical reasoning, causality, and the scientific method, we’d still be living in the dark ages.

10 Behaviors of Smart People

They don’t follow fads

They don’t follow fads

We live in the golden age of fads and pseudoscience. Frankly, nothing speaks louder to the dumbing down of society that was portrayed so accurately in Mike Judge’s futuristic spoof Idiocracy. Urban Dictionary calls it a "movie that was originally a comedy, but became a documentary.” Truth.

10 Behaviors of Smart People

They don’t live beyond their means

They don’t live beyond their means

Don’t get me wrong, we all stretch ourselves somewhat when we’re young. But once you’ve achieved something you don’t want to lose, it’s not very bright to squander it needlessly by living beyond your means.  

10 Behaviors of Smart People

They’re often their own worst enemy

They’re often their own worst enemy

As developed as our frontal lobes are, everyone has at least one emotional blind spot that haunts them. Oftentimes that’s just the flipside of whatever it is that makes them smart to begin with. Like yin and yang, they need each other to coexist.

10 Behaviors of Smart People

As entrepreneurs, they’re not always successful

As entrepreneurs, they’re not always successful

In my opinion, when it comes to business success, intelligence is necessary but not sufficient. I’m not talking about shysters who sucker people or someone who made a fortune off a single smart trade. To found and run a successful business over the long haul, you’ve got to be smart. Period. 

Related: Want to Be Successful? Focus on One Business.

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  • 10 Behaviors of Smart People
  • 1. They make smart decisions.
  • 2. They learn from their mistakes
  • 3. They don’t have all the answers
  • 4. They surround themselves with smart people
  • 5. They are resourceful
  • 6. They can reason
  • 7. They don’t follow fads
  • 8. They don’t live beyond their means
  • 9. They’re often their own worst enemy
  • 10. As entrepreneurs, they’re not always successful
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