Official blog for the book "Just Behind the Door"

Posts tagged ‘Work ethic’

There’s More to Success than IQ!

We have all known people who are exceptionally intelligent and successful. They seem to succeed at whatever they put their mind to and relish in the hard work it takes to achieve. They have learned about different management strategies such as Six Sigma, JIT (just in time), TRIZ, the list goes on and on. Each year people trained in the newest management or leadership approaches are hired by organizations who are convinced they have finally found the Holy Grail and now their organization will soar. They think they have found people who can make decisions at the speed of electrons. Often they are told by the trainers of these new approaches to hire the best and often what that means are those folks who have graduated from an highly elite institution, maintained high grades and received the best scores on tests such as the SAT OR ACT. Ahhh if it were only that easy. One famous longitudinal study entitled the Terman study followed a group of highly intelligent people – with IQ’s of 135 or above – expecting them to win illustrious awards such as a Pulitzer, MacArthur or similar award in their fields. Most often they did not. As you may have guessed by now …there is more to the story than the latest leadership fad and IQ.

What they discovered over time was that once a person crosses the IQ threshold of 120 there is little relationship between higher intelligence and better performance. (you may want to read that last sentence again since it is so contrary to what we have heard all of our lives!) More recently than the Terman study, Macolm Gladwell who wrote ‘Outliers’ among many other outstanding books found those who won Nobel prizes in Chemistry or Medicine did NOT often go to the top of the rock type of schools. Rather they went to good schools and worked very hard.

The take away for us is that intelligence is a piece of the puzzle but certain character traits and dispositions make even more of the difference for success. Honesty, rigorous thinking about a problem before making a decision, fair-mindedness, discipline, imagination, sensitivity and the ability to see nuances – avoid black or white thinking – and of course, above all, a strong work ethic really fill out the puzzle and create a beautiful landscape of future success for those willing to work for it.

Regardless of how we score on an IQ test these character traits make us successful or not at whatever we pursue in life. The great news is that we can work to develop them on a daily basis!

Have a great few days!

Ordinary or Extraordinary?

Making a living is important. My parents worked hard from the 30’s through the 60’s raising a family, buying a house, cars, furniture and were grateful to be able to afford a one week camping vacation each year at the same Michigan state park the third week of June. Dad would go fishing while Mom would cook and try to dry out the blankets on a makeshift line during the day. That was before air mattresses and other camping gear was either available or affordable. Yet, that was how they lived year after year and they were grateful that they could pay their bills and take that one week vacation. How times have changed!

Working and taking care of our families enhances our self esteem. My parents taught me the difference between ordinary and extraordinary is just that little bit more that you are willing to do without being asked. Dad used to say, ‘give your employer $1.50 back in effort for every $1.00 you make and you will never be out of a job. It was good advice that I followed.

The opportunities are endless when it comes to making a difference. Some may be able to discover new scientific methods and answers that will benefit the world. We are all recipients of medical and engineering breakthroughs. Steve Jobs said he wanted to make a dent in the Universe and he consequently changed they way the world communicates. More often than not, these breakthroughs only happened when the person did more than was expected.

We all have the opportunity to make a difference in our own unique way if we choose to do so. The question is will we rise to the occasion or take the easier path. Something to think about when we are wishing, hoping and longing for an easier road in life.

Anthony Bourdain, the world traveler who discovers exotic foods and author of Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly wrote, “No one understands and appreciates the American Dream of hard work leading to material rewards better than a non-American.”

My favorite, George Bernard Shaw said, ” My life belongs to the whole community and as long as I live, it is a privilege to do for it whatsoever I can. I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work, the more I live. I rejoice in life for its own sake. Life is no ‘brief candle’ to me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for the moment; and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.”

Something to think about! Have a good few days!