photo credit: Justyn Warner

The Intelligence Threshold: How Smart Do You Need to Be to Succeed?

Melissa Chu
Jumpstart Your Dream Life


What does it take to be successful?

Is it a matter of being the “best and the brightest”?

We hear this term thrown around so often today that it seems as though intelligence is the gatekeeper to opportunities.

This idea that inborn smarts and talent are the great divider causes us to hold certain beliefs about our world.

If we see someone performing better than ourselves, we’re quick to assume that the person must be smarter or naturally more talented. And when this happens, it creates an excuse for us to give up on our goals.

For example, have you ever thought to yourself…

  • “Wow, it’s amazing what that person accomplished. I could never do that.” [I’m not smart enough.]
  • “I really want to do that, but…” [I’m not talented enough.]
  • “How does that person stay in such good shape?” [I’m just not built like that.]

Notice how there’s the self-limiting belief at the end of each of these examples?

We might not consciously think those words — after all, it would be painful to admit these things — but it’s there, hidden underneath what we tell ourselves. This negative train of thought then justifies our inaction.

Now, we can agree that people aren’t born on equal footing. Some of us are probably have a better ability to grasp certain skills naturally. But do you need to be a genius to be successful in a field?

Creativity and Its Role in Success

Having an open attitude and putting yourself in environments that encourage growth are part of finding good opportunities. Why?

Because having those two things help us come up with new ideas. And, just as importantly, they encourage us to implement those ideas.

But before we get into that, let’s talk about the perception that good ideas only come to the lucky few who are born gifted. Do you have to be smartest person around to achieve great works?

Well, the answer might surprise you.



Melissa Chu
Jumpstart Your Dream Life

I write about living better, creating great work, and making an impact. Get your guide to achieving your goals at