Outliers have a tendency to give the masses the wrong ideas.
When we hear stories about a seven-year-old who can speak 14 different languages, or see a video of someone with a photographic memory repeating back every single person’s name in a fifty person auditorium, we sit back in awe.
“How can they do that?” we say, our jaws on the ground.
We begin to think that high levels of intelligence are more the result of nature, rather than nurture.
But that’s just not the case.
The truth is, we are all blank slates when we arrive here on earth. Sure, we inherit a few things from our predecessors, but ultimately our futures depend on our work ethic. There are plenty of brilliant people in the world who never amount to much, solely because they lacked the desire to refine their inherent talents and intelligence.
And, on the other side of the spectrum, there are plenty of people who had the odds stacked against them and went on to do brilliant things.
People aren’t born smart.
People learn how to work with what they’ve got, and become smart as a result.
1. Smart people read (a lot).
Sure, it’s discouraging when you come across someone who can practically download books into their brain and remember every single piece of information. But that’s far from the common standard.
For most people, reading has to be a practice and a habit.
Reading is a skill just like any other, and we forget that. Go too long without reading and stretching your brain, and you’ll find the task to be incredibly difficult — especially when it comes time to recall what you’ve read.
Smart people practice reading often. And just like anything else, with practice they get better and better over time.
2. Smart people hang around other smart people.
Most people hang around other people just like them.