Intelligence is often seen as a key factor in achieving success in life. We are often told that if we perform well academically, we will have no trouble securing a high-paying job and subsequently live a successful life. However, the reality is that intelligence is not the only factor that determines success. In fact, highly intelligent individuals may not always excel in all areas of life.


The False Assumption

The notion that highly intelligent people are successful in all areas of life is a common misconception. For instance, many people believe that high IQ scores are a guarantee for success, assuming that intelligent individuals are brighter and more capable than their peers and, therefore, can excel in all areas of their lives. This assumption is not true.

While high intelligence is beneficial in many aspects of life, individuals with high IQ scores or exceptional talents do not always succeed. In fact, many highly intelligent individuals struggle in areas such as social skills, emotional intelligence, and practical daily life skills.

According to a study by David Lubinski, highly intelligent people do not necessarily possess the personality traits that lead to success. While intellectually gifted individuals may perform better in school and academia, they may not always have the practical skills to apply their knowledge and expertise in real-life situations.

Moreover, high levels of intelligence may also lead to overthinking, which can lead to procrastination, anxiety, and indecisiveness. These personality traits are not beneficial for success in many areas of life, such as entrepreneurship, where quick decision making and risk-taking can be significant factors for success.

The Reality of Success

Success is not just determined by intelligence. Rather, it is influenced by multiple factors, such as hard work, creativity, emotional stability, and adaptability. Some of the world’s most successful people do not necessarily score high in intelligence tests; instead, they have developed practical skills in areas such as communication, leadership, and creativity.

Additionally, success often requires collaboration and teamwork. Great team players are often not the smartest individuals but are instead those who possess excellent social skills, communication, and empathy, which can enable them to work with others towards a common goal.

The Advantages of Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence, or the ability to identify, understand, and manage one’s own and others’ emotions, is an essential predictor of success. People who possess high emotional intelligence are more likely to be successful in their personal and professional lives.

Individuals with high levels of emotional intelligence can empathize with others, understand their perspectives, and use this knowledge to build stronger relationships. As a result, they possess the skills to negotiate, communicate effectively, and lead others towards success.


In conclusion, the idea that highly intelligent people automatically succeed in all areas of life is a false assumption. Intelligence is just one factor that contributes to success, and it is not always the most important. Emotional intelligence, practical daily life skills, creativity, hard work, and adaptability are equally important in achieving success.


– Lubinski, D. (2010). Exceptional cognitive ability: The phenotype. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 5(2), 202-223.
– Goleman, D. (1996). Emotional Intelligence. New York: Bantam.

Further reading

By Peter

5 thoughts on “The Misconception that Highly Intelligent People are Successful in all Areas of Life”
  1. I completely agree with your statement. Intelligence alone can only take you so far, as success also requires a combination of several other factors such as emotional intelligence, practical skills, creativity, hard work, and adaptability. It’s important to recognize and cultivate these attributes in ourselves to achieve our goals and lead fulfilling lives.

  2. “I always thought being intelligent means being successful in everything. Now I find out that it’s just another excuse for my terrible social skills and procrastination habits. Can emotional intelligence be learned or do I have to fake it until I make it?”

    1. Intelligence can manifest in different forms, and success does not necessarily equate to intelligence. Emotional intelligence is a vital aspect of overall intelligence as it deals with social and emotional skills, including self-awareness, social awareness, self-regulation, and relationship management.
      Fortunately, emotional intelligence can be learned and developed over time through practice and training. Developing emotional intelligence requires self-awareness, self-reflection, and active listening to others. With determination and effort, anyone can improve their emotional intelligence.
      One useful webpage for learning more about emotional intelligence and strategies for developing it is the website of the Emotional Intelligence Institute,

  3. “Gjswdkjdnf, this article is so wrong. Everyone knows that being smart is all you need to succeed. I mean, look at all the successful scientists, doctors, and engineers out there. They are all super intelligent and have everything figured out. But, I do agree that emotional intelligence is also important. People need to learn how to manage their own emotions in order to make good decisions. So, in conclusion, being smart is still the most important thing for success, but emotional intelligence is important too.”

    1. Thank you for your comment. We appreciate your perspective on the importance of intelligence and emotional intelligence in achieving success. At the same time, we encourage individuals to consider other factors that contribute to success and to recognize that success can take on different forms based on individual goals and values.

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