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Secrets to becoming more intelligent and successful in life.

Discover different types of intelligence and how to succeed in influencing people, get them to like you and help you succeed.

Human intelligence and its relevance to success is one thing that many people misunderstand a lot. Truly intelligent people maintain a student mentality throughout their life, as they know that there is something that they can learn from everyone. You'll miss a lot of lessons and opportunities if you go through the years thinking that you're more intelligent than everyone else, and therefore you don't have to listen to them.

There's a great excerpt from 'How to Win Friends and Influence People' that is related to this topic. In the book, it shows how Benjamin Franklin was tactless in his youth, yet he became so diplomatic, so adroit at handling people as an adult. And that was the secret of his success. "I will speak ill of no man." he said, " and speak all the good I know of everybody."

A related concept is the Ben Franklin effect. This is where we tend to like those who ask us for favors. Again, it's about being humble when it comes to your own intelligence. It's impossible to see a problem from everybody's perspective so the best way to learn is often just to listen to those who are different from us.

This concept is explained more in the book "Influence" by Robert Cialdini. Ben Franklin would make someone do him a favor, often one he didn't need, which would then in turn make them like him more. Since we don't like the idea of doing favors for people we don't like.

This is a perfect example of how there can be so many different kinds of intelligence. Usually in society we attribute intelligence to academic ability. This is important but is only valued so highly because the people who have established society's norms (like IQ tests or school curriculum) were those who excelled in this academic intelligence.

Other kinds of intelligence could be Emotional Intelligence, the ability to understand other's feelings and emotions and Spatial ability to move your body efficiently and gracefully (athleticism). These other abilities could actually be more important than logical and problem solving ability alone.

Being humble and asking questions from other people is a great way win friends and influence people. Asking questions you don't know the answer to, and acting like the interested person who wants to learn, actually displays far better social intelligence than trying to proudly show how right you are all the time. A wise man always said, "One thing I know, I know nothing."

Empathy, the ability to entertain ideas without accepting them, is another form of intelligence that will help one be successful dealing with other people and influencing and learning from them. Empathy does not equate to agreement. It's ok to put yourself in someone else's shoes and see things from their viewpoint. It won't make you agree with them, only perhaps understand them a little better.

You get to learn a lot by having your ideas challenged. It also allows you another viewpoint through which to see an idea. It's usually one so obviously different from how you viewed things, that you'd never bother thinking it otherwise, and therefore can be very enlightening.

For example if you like books on supernatural creatures, it may be frustrating when trying to describe some of your favorite book series to people because they just can't suspend disbelief long enough to just go with the premise and enjoy the story. Yes, it's perfectly true that supernatural creatures don't exist (to our knowledge). But that doesn't mean that you are a juvenile or dumb for liking fantasy or sci-fi.

To be successful in life, try using the concept of Shoshin. This is a concept in Zen Buddhism meaning "beginner's mind". It refers to having an attitude of openness, eagerness, and lack of preconceptions when studying a subject, even when studying at an advanced level, just as a beginner in that subject would. The term is especially used in the study of Zen Buddhism and Japanese martial arts. In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, in the expert's mind there are few.

One of the great philosophies of the most successful CEOs is that they all have the same mentality. They hire the best people and I let them do their job. All they really do is manage a massive pool of talent and make sure they are coordinated correctly. This lets everyone do the best in their field and utilizes all the knowledge of this big talented group and results in huge successes.

If you want to succeed in appearing smart around smart people, Here's what to do:

Act curious and open minded. Smart people are information sponges, and they're always looking for something to expand their viewpoint. They love ideas and alternate perspectives.

Acknowledge the hidden complexity in everything, because the more you learn, the more you become aware that everything is way more complicated than it looks. In the words of Bertrand Russell, "The trouble is that in the modern world the stupid are cocksure while the intelligent are full of doubt." Smart people speak in shades of uncertainty approach things skeptically because they understand that the rabbit hole goes really, really damn deep.

Try to understand irony. Letting jokes sail over your head constantly makes you look not so bright.

Be simple. Don't try to make straightforward ideas sound complicated, or use big words unnecessarily. Smart people try to make complicated ideas sound simple, not the other way around.

It takes great intelligence, understanding, insight, and talent to present a complex concept in such a way that it is easily understandable to others. But because it is easily understandable, it often does not occur to the audience that meaningful communication requires that kind of expertise. To be an effective communicator you not only have to understand what you're communicating but who you're communicating it to. you have to know how their mind works. And that kind of intellectual empathy is hard to find. The value is in the telling, not in what is told. And that fact is completely lost on most people.

Don't repeat concepts that you don't understand. It's better to keep your mouth shut and ask questions instead. I knew a guy who liked to use the term "exponentially bigger" to mean "way bigger." Well, "exponentially" means something very specific, as in, "the population will grow exponentially." The way he kept repeating it made it clear that he didn't understand the concept of exponential growth at all and it was just a term he latched onto to sound smart, so it backfired dramatically.

Don't ever Lie. Smart people can see right through it and they resent it. I find the most intelligent people never lie and are always honest with what they do and don't know, partly because they assume everyone else hates lies as much as they do, and partly because they're confident enough to admit they don't know everything.


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